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Urgent call: owners put pressure on British racing to release full recovery plan

Owners watch the action at a behind-closed-doors meeting at Goodwood
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The two owners who issued a rallying cry for British racing to rethink ownership in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic are demanding the sport's key stakeholders formulate a full recovery plan as a matter of urgency.

In July, Ged Shields and Jon Hughes, who between them are involved with 39 horses, circulated a detailed blueprint containing 20 proposals for racing, with the retention and acquisition of owners the number one goal.

Since then many owners have felt the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, with big names such as Trevor Hemmings and John Dance scaling back their interests.

The BHA last week revealed its recovery plan for the sport, stating nine goals and who would have responsibility for their delivery, although the plan was short on specific detail.

Concerned with the progress made since they issued their recommendations, Shields and Hughes sent a two-page summary to more than 90 MPs requesting they hold racing's key stakeholders to account for the "quality and delivery" of the recovery plan.

"Our intention is to keep pressure on British racing to produce and implement a meaningful recovery plan," they said in a statement. 

"While we were encouraged when Nick Rust [BHA chief executive] made his announcement last week about the 'nine goals', there's clearly a huge amount of urgent, concerted and collaborative action required if the sport is to address the challenges ahead and mitigate the looming crisis of a major contraction in racing."

Nick Rust: set to release more details about plan to counteract coronavirus crisis

Rust stressed more details would emerge soon on racing's efforts to counteract the economic effects of the pandemic.

Shields and Hughes, along with Simon Double from Solario Racing, will meet with the All-Party Parliamentary Group next week to voice concerns the emerging recovery plan is lacking "urgency, unity and ambition".  

In their original blueprint, they predict the loss of 2,244 owners in the next five years, around 20 per cent of the 11,218 with a horse in training in 2019, and 3,531 horses, a decline of approximately 15 per cent. They suggest this would lead to an immediate financial loss of £124 million.

"We're running a 100-day campaign and have just passed the halfway point," the statement continued. "Unfortunately, at the moment, very few in the sport believe the recovery plan as announced will create the necessary traction this autumn to make a significant difference.

"The danger is clearly that a crisis turns into a catastrophe, with considerable damage to the sport, the business of racing and the livelihoods of thousands of staff."

Read more on this subject:

Call to arms for British racing to reimagine ownership in wake of Covid-19

Read how Ged Shields and Jon Hughes outline their proposals

'Frustrated' John Dance to significantly cut back number of horses in training

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There's clearly a huge amount of urgent, concerted and collaborative action required if the sport is to address the challenges ahead
E.W. Terms