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Horse Racing: Racecourses give approval to setting up of BHA.

Byline: Howard Wright

FORMAL creation of the British Horseracing Authority, the new body responsible for racing's governance and regulation, came a step closer yesterday when members of the Racecourse Association endorsed the new body at their annual meeting in London, writes Howard Wright.

The new authority, which will bring together the BHB and HRA under the chairmanship of Paul Roy, cannot come into being until the four existing BHB shareholders - the Industry Committee, Jockey Club, Racehorse Owners' Association and RCA - have given their full approval.

The Industry Committee, which will disappear under the new regime, was first off the mark, and the RCA's example will be followed within a week by the ROA and Jockey Club.

Legal niceties, particularly relating to pension issues, have still to be completed, but Nic Coward, who is carrying out the chief executive's role for both the BHB and HRA before taking up his appointed position with the BHA, last week forecast that the new body would be in place within about a month.

RCA chairman David Thorpe said yesterday: "It has been a long journey to get to this point, and the RCA has been at the forefront of the design to modernise the sport.

"We can get on with establishing a new, cost-effective and efficient structure to benefit the whole of British racing, and turn our attention to the more pressing challenges of regaining lost market share in the off-course betting market and reigniting growth in attendances."

Thorpe updated members, as far as he could without breaking a government-imposed nondisclosure agreement, on the racing consortium's ongoing bid to buy the Tote.

Taking extreme care to keep within the confidentiality undertakings, he told his closed audience: "It is hoped that the government will respond shortly with a further period of exclusivity, and that recent changes in the government will not hold up the process.

"Importantly, we need an immediate relaxation of the nondisclosure agreement, so that members who are keen to do so can evaluate the investment opportunity."

Both the modernisation of racing's administration and process for the sale of the Tote have gone on under the watchful eye of former sports minister Richard Caborn, whose achievements were recognised by the racecourses' decision to award lifetime badges to him and his wife.

RCA chief executive Stephen Atkin said: "The push for modernisation would not have succeeded without the wholehearted support and encouragement of Richard Caborn, and awarding him the badges is a mark of our appreciation."

Thorpe, who completed his three-year term of office as chairman yesterday, has accepted an invitation from the RCA board to continue for at least another year. Whether he carries on beyond July 2008 will be reviewed early next year.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 4, 2007
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