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leader Rachel Hood calls for Levy to stop funding bad horses

Racehorse owners’


Last week Royal Ascot, this week reality; Rachel Hood, the new president of the Racehorse Owners Association, has called for a radical overhaul of the fixture list and the creation of three tiers within Flat racing in her inaugural speech to the ROA’s annual meeting in London.

Hood, wife of trainer John Gosden and part owner of several horses including last year’s St Leger winner Arctic Cosmos, made the call because of the massive drop in funding of prize money from the Levy which, since the Government specified a target of between £73 and £81 million in February, already looks like coming in at only £56 million.

“We must take matters into our own hands in dealing with the problems, which are getting worse by the day,” she said.

Pointing out that while the number of fixtures had risen 25 per cent in the past 10 years, the Levy’s budgeted contributions this year were now lower, she called for “an immediate and radical solution”.

“It demands a fixture list based on the best the sport has to offer,” she said. “The Levy must be spent almost entirely on sustaining these fixtures and those fixtures that cater for very moderate horses should be funded by the betting industry.”

Her vision is that the premier and middle tiers would comply with the prize money tariffs of the Horsemen’s Group and race planning stipulations. There would be a contractual agreement between courses, which would bid for the fixtures, and the Horsemen’s Group.

The third tier, put on at any day and time of the track’s choice, would have no restrictions on programming, race type or prize money.

“Such a system would not only protect the unique heritage of British racing, it would enhance it.”

So where does her radical idea go from here? Within the Horsemen’s Group there is a race-planning subgroup, which includes Tom Tate, Dale Gibson, Julian Richmond-Watson, Stephen Smith and Hood, among others, which is due to meet soon and put forward some radical solutions that will suit owners, trainers, jockeys and the horse population.

“I can’t guarantee everyone is going to sign up to it,” said Hood, “John [Gosden] wrote an article along these lines two years ago for the Owner & Breeder, but that was before the decline in the Levy was so monumental. We have to look at it in a new way.”

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