Racecourse Fixtures

The below note, sent directly to racecourses, addresses certain points in relation to racecourse fixtures raised by Julian Muscat in his article published in the Racing Post on Wednesday 25 January 2017.

The documentation referred to is included in the Members only section of the RCA website.

Racecourse fixtures – Racing Post Article 25 January 2017

Dear Racecourse Chairmen and Managers

You may well have seen the article in the Racing Post on Wednesday 25 January which referred to the ownership of racecourse fixtures. Whilst we do not propose to respond directly to this article, so as to avoid an unnecessary public debate, I did want to write to you to reassure you about the strong legal position of racecourses with regards to racecourse fixtures.

I should start by pointing out that there is no dispute between the RCA and BHA regarding the status of racecourse fixtures, in large part due to the agreements referred to below. The status of racecourse fixtures is in the RCA’s view beyond dispute.

This is a matter in which the RCA has considerable experience and knowledge, indeed I was directly involved in the drafting of the documents referred to below, as your Chief Executive since July 2000, and as the Finance Director of the British Horseracing Board (BHB) between 1995 and 1999.

Racecourses have been able to transfer or otherwise trade racecourse fixtures for many years. This right was  expressly acknowledged in the Fixture Transfer Arrangements approved by BHB in 1998, since when there have been a significant number of fixture transfers/trades with the knowledge and approval of the Governing Authority (ie first BHB and since 2007 BHA). This explains why, when the Fixture List has subsequently expanded, the BHA (and before it BHB) has created separate classes of fixture over which they have a greater control.

The rights attached to racecourse fixtures were additionally reinforced in 2007 in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Governance and Race Planning Issues. The MOU was agreed as part of the creation of the BHA and forms part of the BHA’s constitution. The MOU can only be amended or withdrawn with the consent of the RCA and BHA’s other members.

Most recently, the status of the MOU was acknowledged within the Members’ Agreement agreed between BHA, the RCA and the Horsemen’s Group in November 2015. The BHA, RCA and Horsemen’s Group are reviewing the MOU to ensure it remains up to date. However unless changes to the MOU are agreed by all parties it remains as is, and any breach of the MOU would, in our view, constitute a breach of the Members Agreement.

I hope that you find this information helpful and copies of the documentation referred to above, some of which have been sent to you previously, will now be archived in the members’ section of the RCA website.

I would recommend that, where in the future you contemplate any transfer or trade of racecourse fixtures, you contact either the Chairman or myself, where we can advise on the effect of the above agreements and documentation. We will of course maintain the information in strict confidence and will assist where we can with the transaction, as you so wish.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Stephen Atkin