by Renee Israel
According to reports, Paul Bittar, the new Chief Executive Officer of the
British Racing Authority, has made an extremely positive impact on the
organisation, which bodes well for horse racing in the UK.
In the six short months that he has headed up the BHA, Bittar has more than
proved has leadership and resolution skills, notably when he resolved a
controversial issue involving strict whip rules which he inherited with the job.
More recently, Bittar was credited for brokering a successful 5-year-deal
signed with the leading UK betting exchange, Betfair, which will see millions of
pounds make their way into British Racing coffers over the next few years.
On Wednesday this week Bittar spoke to the general meeting of the Racehorse
Owner's Association, spelling out the BHA's vision on racing fixtures.
BHA is the Final Racing Arbiter
Speaking at the AGM, BHA CEO Paul Bittar said that that the BHA would
ensure that there will be no cutting of fixtures, promising to maintain the
fixture list at or near its current level, and that it would use the fixture
list to shape the commercial future of UK horse racing.
"The information we have clearly indicates that a reduction in fixtures would
result in a reduction in industry revenue, so the contention that less fixtures
would result in higher prize money is simply not supported by the date we have,"
he said. "And following consultation, it is clear that demand for fixtures for
both the betting industry and racecourses means at least on a par with that of
Bittar said that the BHA would not only limit itself to the regulation of the
sport, but that if necessary, would step in between disagreeing parties and
become a "final arbiter" in fixture cases.
Improving Horse Starts Per Season
Looking to the future, Bittar said that it was imperative that existing
horses race more frequently in order to maintain the current fixtures. He called
for more innovation about handicapping and policies so that more starts per
season per horse could be encouraged.
"If we could achieve one extra start per horse per season, which can only be
a good thing for the owner, we would deliver an additional 20,000 runners per
season, which would cure all our concerns about the size of the fixture list,"