Media Centre

Bloodstock industry code of practice tweaked

A REVISED bloodstock industry code of practice is to be released shortly, following a year-long review by the main racing andbreeding associations as well as Britain's two largest sales companies, Doncaster Bloodstock Sales and Tattersalls.

The changes are likely to include a clearer definition of the terms ‘luck money' and ‘secret profit'. Luck money is defined in the current code of practice, which was published in 2004, as "any financial payment or payment in kind made by or on behalf of a vendor or purchaser or his agent, after the sale of a horse has been concluded".

The major change, according to people involved in the discussions, is to the enforcement clause. The present code directs complaints to the sport's ruling body, which since 2004 has changed from the Jockey Club to the Horseracing Regulatory Authority to the British Horseracing Authority, and has the power to ban a person who is deemed to have breached the code from British racecourses and other licensed premises.

It is expected the revised guidelines will enable people with a complaint to speak to any of the industry bodies involved in drawing up the code, including the National Trainers Federation, the Racehorse Owners' Association and the two sales companies. ROA council member Dena Arstall believes this process will give people with doubts about the integrity of a sale more confidence to question it.

"I think it empowers people," she said. "Before [going to the BHA] they might ask, ‘do I really want to make a complaint, is it that serious, do I want to escalate this?' I think they will have more confidence being advised by people they're related to. And if you need mediation, you would get that between the trade body and the sales company. So in a sense you're having the industry self-regulate and be intelligent about this. The BHA is the last resort - I think that is the key difference."

The original document was drawn up in the wake of a handful of widely reported court cases in the US and Britain, and around the same time as codes of practice for bloodstock sales in the US and Australia were being hammered out. The review, originally chaired by the late Chris Deuters, was always in the books, said Henry Beeby, managing director ofDBS.

"I think the purpose of the review was that any new document should be reviewed on an ongoing basis," he said. "The original code was very effective and easy to follow, but I for one was very concerned the industry was not seen to be complacent. I think the alterations are fairly minimal. We went down various avenues and always kept coming back to same place, which is that we always had a very effective document."

On the subject of enforcement, he said: "I think what the code was originally intended for, and what it still is, is a point of reference. Everybody relies on the law of the land. I believe it had the teeth it needed to have - the ultimate sanction was there. I don't think it needed to be beefed up."

He added: "As far as I'm aware, only been one official complaint was made under the code, and no evidence was found of wrongdoing. That fact is quite revealing, and should be quite reassuring to everyone in the industry."




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