Improving the ownership experience in British racing

18 January 2024

As you may be aware, work is underway to develop an industry strategy for British horseracing to grow our sport and improve the experience for all involved. The strategy work is being coordinated by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), on behalf of and in collaboration with all those working in and involved with the racing industry.

As the largest investors in British racing, we are committed to ensuring you are better recognised and rewarded for your contribution to the sport.

Through the industry strategy we have already announced significant changes to the racing product which will be in place this year. This includes an additional £3.2m of prize money this year alone, with plans for further growth across all tiers of racing.

But we know that ownership is about more than just the return on your investment. We want to ensure you receive a consistently high-quality experience, both on and off the racecourse, and that everyone in the sport understands more about what owners want.

This is a long-term plan, but we wanted to update you on some of the immediate progress that has been made, particularly how we will use data and information more effectively in 2024 to enhance the owner experience. 

Owners’ feedback and engagement is essential to this work, and we will continue to work with all participants and representative bodies to develop further opportunities that recognise and reward owners directly for their ongoing investment.

We hope the following information is useful and informative, and thank you for your continued investment in and support for British racing.

Racecourse / Owner communication

The most consistent area of feedback from owners is the need to improve how the sport communicates with owners, prior to, during and after raceday. The BHA and Racecourse Association (RCA) have been working to improve owner communication and want to make further progress on this throughout 2024.

This includes providing a more accurate view of owner attendance in advance of raceday, so that racecourses can plan suitable hospitality and access arrangements, and contacting owners after racing with information about runner performance and the provision of trophies or mementos from the day.

To help achieve this, the BHA will soon start to share registered owner contact details with racecourses where owners have a horse entered to run. As a result, from this month, owners may be contacted directly by racecourses regarding their raceday requirements.

In the case of syndicates and racing clubs, communications from racecourses will be sent to Syndicators and Club Managers respectively, as details relating to their members will not be shared.

This contact will be facilitated through the PASS system. Courses not using PASS (namely Kelso and Hexham) will continue with their current raceday arrangements which proactively encourage owners to make contact with their respective teams ahead of raceday.

Rebecca Davies, Head of Racing Industry Partners for Arena Racing Company, says regarding the new data sharing agreement:

“The provision of additional owner data and contact details through PASS will be invaluable to racecourses.  For the first time, we will be able to communicate direct with owners about key information relating to entries, declarations and raceday arrangements including inspections and abandonments.  Until now, racecourses have been unable to do this and the ability to communicate up-to-date and immediate information direct to such an important stakeholder group is a huge step forward for owners and racecourses.”

This information sharing, which will always be undertaken in accordance with data protection law, will help provide a more accurate view of attendance in advance. It will allow the racecourse to offer greater flexibility where required and make best use of the Owners & Trainers/hospitality space available, which will enhance the owner’s experience.

If you have any questions about this data sharing, please contact [email protected].

If your query relates to a particular communication from a racecourse then please contact the racecourse concerned directly.

Owner data

We have also completed a detailed assessment of owner data to help better understand the individual levels of investment across the owner landscape. This is essential to providing a more tailored experience for all owners, including those involved in shared ownership, as opposed to the ‘one size fits all’ approach currently in operation.

As a result, a model is currently under construction which, when completed, will allow application of a more tailored ownership experience, alongside developing recognition, benefits and rewards. This work is expected to be concluded by the end of Q1 2024.

Owner Services

An area which has been agreed as a priority is for the development of a central “Owner Services” function. This customer-focused team would be responsible for the retention and recruitment of owners and for maintaining high levels of experience across all types of ownership, therefore providing a significantly increased customer service experience for owners. Plans are being developed to introduce this in a phased manner, with further information to follow in due course.

Racing Digital

Racing Digital is a joint venture between the BHA and Weatherbys. It is in the process of replacing the current racing administration systems with more user-friendly services. One of the end results of this is that we will be able to simplify processes like owner applications, sponsorship, colours, and VAT administration, to improve your experience of the administration side of ownership.

How this will improve the owner experience has been set out in two previous updates:

  • Part 1 which addresses changes to the fees structure
  • Part 2 which covers improvements to the administration and regulation and racing syndicates.

In 2024 the Racing Digital team will start to move owner data to a new platform, and owners will be contacted in the first few months of the year to help ensure a seamless and streamlined transition. 

Licensing for syndicates and club managers

To complement these improvements, the BHA will also be introducing a new licence for syndicators and club managers, aimed at bolstering the regulation of syndicates and racing clubs. A licence will be required by both new and existing syndicators and racing club managers, and more information will be communicated directly in early 2024 around when this will be launched and how to apply.

The Industry Strategy

The industry strategy is an opportunity to shape racing’s future and strengthen our position as a world-leader in thoroughbred racing and breeding.

The industry strategy covers a broader scope than just ownership. The areas of focus for the strategy include:

  • The Racing product: The structure of our fixture list and the quality of our racing
  • Owners: Improving the owner experience and growth in ownership
  • Horse welfare: Our collective lifetime responsibility to all horses bred for racing.
  • People: Recruiting and retaining a high-performing, diverse and inclusive workforce.
  • Integrity: World-class integrity and regulation, both on and off the racecourse.
  • Betting: Increasing the returns from betting and working with operators to support a thriving racing industry.
  • Product Presentation: How we present racing to the world and promote our major assets.
  • Fans: How we appeal to new and existing fans – understanding what our different customers want.
  • Investors: Promoting and securing more investment in British racing, both domestic and overseas.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: Enhancing racing’s positive impact and its role as force for good.

You may have seen plenty of discussion in recent months around the Racing Product element. This has included the announcement of significant innovation in the 2024 fixture list and race programme and the development of 170 high-value Premier Racedays which showcase the very best of our sport, alongside extensive plans to promote these days and improve the fan experience.

Due to the way in which the sport is structured it was agreed that it was essential that the main building blocks – the fixture list and racing product – needed to be prioritised in the delivery of the strategy.

Meanwhile, extensive work has been taking place in the other pillars of the strategy, including ownership.

The industry strategy – Ownership

The objective of the ownership workstream is to grow and reward investment in ownership, with a focus on improving the retention, recruitment and experience of all owners within racing, who contribute around £500m a year to the industry.

The ownership workstream is being led by the BHA and ROA, alongside contributions from across the industry. 

This has included interviews with a cross-section of owners of all types to understand exactly what owners want to see. Putting owners and their expectations at the centre of this work is the driving philosophy behind this work.

Three main areas of focus have been identified:

  • Data: Owner data was identified as a major enabler to creating an enhanced owner experience.
  • Understanding:  A more accurate view of our different types of owners is required to understand how we can provide a better service.
  • Ownership experience:  Using insights from this data and understanding, alongside engagement with owners, to provide an enhanced experience at all levels of ownership, both on and off the racecourse.

The data and understanding workstreams have been prioritised to date as developing a better understanding of our owners is essential for improving their experience.

We will update you with further developments as this work progresses through 2024.

Further information

If you would like any further information please contact:

Louise Norman
Head of Ownership Experience
Racehorse Owners Association
[email protected]

Kate Freeman
Owner Workstream Co-Lead
British Horseracing Authority
[email protected]

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