When Paul Bittar took up post as Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority in January 2012 he swept into racing as a breath of fresh air. He quickly announced a thorough review of all things racing, and has already overseen many positive changes in the way the sport is run.
The latest aspect of racecourse operations to come under the spotlight is the process of judging, an activity that involves far more than determining the outcome of photo finishes, although it is this aspect of the role that might change. The BHA is considering whether determining the outcome of a race could happen at a central location away from the track, with the necessary images transmitted through. Presumably this could reduce the number of full time paid judges needed. I can just hear the announcement now. “And here is the result of the photo finish in the 4.20 at Perth, coming to you live from the BHA in High Holborn!”
The idea is under consideration because with less money from the Levy, the BHA has to try and streamline its operations to save costs. This latest suggestion, though, has stirred up some concern amongst those most affected. The Mail on Sunday reports one racing official claiming that judges were bounced into the review with no “explanation or consultation and they have not been given any details of the planned trials.”
Needless to say, that wasn’t the view of the BHA, but whilst it would certainly be a matter of poor management if they haven’t, that isn’t the important issue. Racing needs its senior officials to be transparent around all changes upon which they are consulting. On this one, the BHA has said no more than all options remain open, including making no changes at all.