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Horse Racing: BHA accepts invitation to join 'racing' bid for Tote.

Byline: By Howard Wright

THE new British Horseracing Authority, which has in effect started work although it has yet to be formally created, is standing by to join the consortium of racecourses and racehorse owners in its bid to secure the Tote for 'racing'.

BHA chief executive Nic Coward revealed yesterday he and chairman-designate Paul Roy, who succeeded BHB chairman Martin Broughton on Monday, had agreed to become involved following an approach by David Thorpe, chairman of the Racecourse Association, and Stephen Crown, president of the Racehorse Owners' Association.

Thorpe and Crown have been leading the racing consortium in its joint submission with Tote management.

They met a late-January offer deadline set by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, but since then the interested parties, who have been unable to discuss details because of stringent non-disclosure conditions, have run into a brick wall of silence and an apparent reluctance by the Treasury to sign off their proposal.

The situation may become clearer tomorrow, Coward said, after a meeting between sports minister Richard Caborn - and possibly his senior department colleague Tessa Jowell - and Stephen Timms, the chief secretary to the Treasury, the closest Westminster contact to Chancellor Gordon Brown.

At present, the opportunity for anyone, or any other body, to join the debate has not arisen. However, Coward said: "Now that Paul Roy and I are in position, there is someone to present the racing view, and having been asked to get involved to get racing to pull together, we'll do so.

"The starting point for us has to be getting in on the confidentiality side, so we're saying: 'change the rules'.

"We were appointed as part of bringing a fresh approach to the various issues.

"As far as the Tote is concerned, let's see where Thursday's meeting gets to, but the key is to see what we can do to get the best return for racing."

Coward echoed outgoing chairman Martin Broughton's frustration, expressed in the Racing Post yesterday, over the Tote sale situation, saying: "If I knew what racing's offer was, I'd have a better idea about a solution - to understand the numbers, the only way is to get involved."

Coward has also been frustrated by the delay in setting up the BHA, but he said that to all intents and purposes, the appointment of Roy as chairman of the BHB, and the fact that the boards of the BHB, HRA and BHA-designate had all met in succession on Monday, signalled the start of the new independent organization responsible for governance and regulation.

He added: "Function is there before form, but having the three board meetings was a way of getting it to happen, and the Shaftesbury Avenue office is already acting as one entity."

Formal creation of the BHA cannot happen until the thorny issue of pension rights of Jockey Club and BHB personnel who will transfer to the new body is resolved. Coward said a fresh approach to the complex issue had been adopted, and he hoped the BHA's creation would be formally sealed at the June 11 board meeting.


Nic Coward: frustrated
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 18, 2007
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