Sales companies seek help over bad payers
LEADING sales companies have made a joint approach to the British Horseracing Authority and Horseracing Ireland to help tackle the issue of bad debts.
In particular, Goffs, Doncaster Bloodstock Sales, Tattersalls, and Tattersalls Ireland are frustrated that horses ''bought' - but not paid for - at their auctions are nonetheless being allowed to compete onthe racecourse.
Henry Beeby: Non-payment "happens more than you think"PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
The problem has arisen because an EU directive means that equine passports must be kept close to the horse at all times, due to disease control.
Previously, a sales company could withhold a horse's passport until they had been paid. "It was a good way of helping to encourage someone to pay up when they had taken longer than they perhaps should, " said Henry Beeby, chief executive of Goffs and managing director at DBS.
Buyers at public auction are habitually given extended deadlines to complete their purchases. But without the safety net of holding onto a horse's passport, sales companies "are left in the uncomfortable situation of watching horses run on the racetrack when we know they have not been paid for," Beeby said.
"It is undoubtedly a growing issue in more difficult times. We don't want to bleat about it, and we are very aware of the difficulties people have been facing but it is in everbody's interests that we try to find away around this, not least because of integrity concerns. It can't be good for theintegrity of the sport if horses are running that haven't been paid for."
Although they are in rival ownership, the four main sales companies have approach British and Irish racing authorities to seek a solution. According to Beeby, one proposal has been that sales companies take out an injunction to prevent horses they have not been paid from running, but he described such action as "prohibitive", costing up to £3,000 a time.
He added: "Sales companies have to pay out whether we receive the money or not - we are a high risk business. I am not sure if it is any worse in the current climate but it is undoubtedly an irritation. It probably happens more than you think."
Tattersalls marketing director Jimmy George confirmed that the sales companies "had been in dialogue with the BHA and indeed HRI. It is not a reflection of any higher incidence, there have always been instances of bad payment. Discussions areon-going to try and find a solution to prevent this from happening in the future."