The HBF meeting took place remotely via Zoom on the 15th July 2021.

Colin Hord was in the chair.

HBF Business

Minutes were agreed and the and matters arising were discussed as follows:

Charter Update – Ongoing in the light of the Gambling Act Review

Competitiveness Of National Hunt Racing – Completed though the BHA are working on a review for the top end of jumps racing.

Gambling Act Review – completed and tabled.

Use of the Whip – HBF response tabled.

Totepool – awaiting further details – ongoing.

Wider reach of the HBF – Simon Rowlands was thanked for his blog article raising awareness of the HBF. Racing media (especially the Racing Post) continue to give us good coverage.

SPRC SP Modernisation – HBF response tabled.

Race Distance Information – Being added to the BHA develops list with a view to adding a link on the BHA website to show where changes can be accessed in a CSV file and to include upcoming fixtures.

Chaiman’s Update:

Colin H reported positive coverage in the Racing Post on affordability checks, the Gambling review, and the HBF’s submission. It was noted the RP were producing a series of articles on the fixture list, while the HBF will input their views on Sunday racing in light of the three new Sunday fixtures in August with ITV coverage.

Guest – Julie Harrington, CEO, BHA

After a general discussion about her first seven months in the post and the pressures involved including affordability checks, Covid-19 and the Gambling Act Review, the following subjects were covered in detail:

Industry Forward Look – The tripartite structure was explained and discussed, and JH mentioned that the HBF could add valuable input to the project on the future racing project. Industry raw data was discussed next with the HBF emphasising a need for it to be available in an easy to download format It was explained that the Racing Digital project with transform racing data and the way it is gathered and managed. JH to obtain blank licencing data from RMG (or others) for examination. HBF concerns about leaked information pre published declarations were noted. JH confirming action is being taken.

Whip Consultation project – The timeline and view gathering process was explained and the HBF encouraged to submit opinions individually and as a group. David Jones (BHA Board member and chair of the project steering group) was suggested as a future HBF guest.

Government Engagement – regarding industry submissions on affordability and the Gambling Act review and the need to protect people from gambling harm while minimising the risk to our sport. JH also noted the levy return during lockdown and the improved position from retail bettors shifting to digital options.

Trial Of Sunday Meetings – JH welcomed as a trial but noting the balance needed between participant welfare and commercial activity.

Racing League – The HBF views were requested with the Chair suggesting it may open racing up to a new audience. Jeremy Wray (racing league) had been spoken to by Martin Hughes (HBF) regarding in-running options which appear to have been neglected as an innovation. ITV are supportive of the concept and are trying to make their presentation more data focussed. Simon Rowlands declared an interest in this item as a producer of data for ATR.

Guest – Lydia Hislop, Chair Flat Pattern Committee

Lydia kindly gave the HBF a detailed and informed analysis of the Flat Pattern Committee from origins to present day. Field sizes were discussed and their influence on betting turnover, with LH confirming that the Pattern Committee continues to look at strengthening and consolidating to provide opportunities and adapt to the needs of the horse population.

We then discussed:

Funding Structure – The need to maintain international competitiveness where owners are choosing to race overseas for better prize money.

Race scheduling – Confirmed that the Pattern committee have no say on where a race is placed on a card (race times).

Saturday fixtures – Super Saturday clashes were noted and it was felt more could be achieved for TV and sponsors and to ensure a better geographical spread of meetings and betting opportunities.

Sunday racing – Balance to be struck between participant health and welfare and commercial interests. The benefits of jockeys riding at one meeting per day was also noted.

Social media – It was agreed that more is needed to encourage people to the sport, particularly from diverse cultures. The HBF would like to find more ways to get bettors involved with our work (ongoing) with Lydia conforming that punters need to understand the HBF represents their interests as an industry forum. The opening up of racing data may well encourage more people in to the sport.

Handicap review – Although still a work in progress significant steps have been made, and data is now published on the BHA website. The HBF confirmed they will continue to engage with the BHA on the publication of racing data and data analysis.

Whip consultation – RTV coverage of various racing issues was discussed with the point made that broadcasters are likely to respond individually to the whip consultation.

Race Times review – LH has already carried out a review of race times and many recommendations have already been implemented.

Guests – Martin Cruddace and Sam Cone (ARC)

Martin explained his background in the industry and explained his own views on horseracing as a betting product including possible improvements. Problem gambling was also discussed and the necessity for racing to work with the betting industry to minimise harm. It was also noted that the government’s stance on gambling advertising and how any reduction could affect the sport’s finances.

We also discussed Gambling Act review Consultation, Affordability checks, Return of Racegoers, Sustainability of business model, Fixtures and number of races per card, On-course bookmakers , Drones/in-running betting.

HBF business (continued)

Annual Survey – 256 responses were a drop on the previous survey despite all the work it entailed. A shorter sharper survey was seen as the way forward as well as more publicity. TV responses included the popularity of overseas channels and it weas agreed to feed this back to the TV companies in the UK along win in-running betting comments. Too much racing was a theme but there was interest in more and better Sunday racing.

Whip Consultation – It was agreed that the HBF would not have a collective response but that the survey should be promoted on twitter to allow individual replies.

Bookmakers Terms and Conditions – One account per household restrictions were mentioned and will be looked in to.

SPRC SP Modernisation – No developments since the appointment of Nick Rust who will be invited to the next HBF meeting to discuss the inclusion of on-course bookmakers and the lack of value in the market.

On Course Bookmakers restriction to numbers – A watching brief is advised while the HBF continues to urge racecourses to ensure bookmakers are offering appropriate prices.

Drones – A lost opportunity for racecourses with better drones now flying in all weathers, which meant in-running putters either signed up to drones or stopped betting due to the in-built time disadvantage.

Gambling Act review – No further update at this time.

Going Group Update – HBF has reached out to Paul Johnson and Nicole Thompson at the BHA with the focus currently on the work of James Willoughby looking to quantify the going via a tripartite approach. This is work on going though it was suggested James would be invited to give a brief presentation at a future meeting.

HBF refresh – Succession planning is needed with Colin relinquishing the chair in a year or so and other members due to leave in the year ahead. All agreed to help with the transition and act in an advisory capacity. An annual refresh is seen as high priority.


Group Race Analysis – Steve Tilly kindly continues to provide excellent data analysis for the HBF to review.

Panorama – The forthcoming broadcast was noted but it was not considered something requiring HBF comment.

Date Of Next Meeting To be Agreed and to take place via Zoom as things stand


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