ARO welcomes BHA attendance at Forum

The start of the 2018 season will feel closer for ARO participants following the annual Forum that was held this year at the Donnington Valley Hotel on Saturday 20th January. The event was well attended and some challenging and interesting questions were tabled by owners, trainers and jockeys who were given the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns with a panel that comprised members of the ARO board, the BHA (British Horseracing Authority) and also representation from ARC (Arena Racing Company).

After a welcome from Chairman Charles Gregson who set the ‘sustainability’ theme the Forum embarked on a solid discussion of matters that are set to drive forwards the future of Arabian Racing in the UK

Introductions to new ARO team members were made after its recent restructure; Victoria Pettis who has now control of office administration, Willie McFarland, Operations Manager & Alison Lidderdale, who has taken up the role of Sponsorship and commercial Manager.

The fixture List was reviewed with updates from Willie alongside ARO Director Genny Haynes, Roderick Duncan (ARC Clerk of the Course for Doncaster and Southwell) and Emma Marley (BHA Head of Racecourse Operations). Roderick was able to put across a very informative response to the ‘other side of the card’ in terms of cost implications and how he hoped ARO and the Bio Security issue might move forward.

The Race Planning Committee and the initiative behind its implementation in late 2017 were introduced to the forum by Committee Chairman, and ARO board member Rachael Gowland (Marketing Communications Manager at the EBF), the 2018 Race Programme was presented by Willie McFarland.

2018 Rule Changes were administered by Genny Haynes, the three main areas being that 3 year old horses will not be handicapped until 4 years, Hands and Heels races will not be restricted and the possibility that substitute races could be utilised if required numbers are not met at declaration stage. Other confirmations included updates to the BHA Medical criteria – BHA 5 page mandatory medical, the adoption by ARO of the BHA RIMANI Computerised Doctors System and the BHAGI 11.2 Medical Criteria at Racecourses – bringing ARO in line with the BHA structure for these important issues on jockey safety moving forwards.

Questions from the Floor were moderated by ARO Director Paul Simmons, who held affairs together well with the assistance of the paddock bell – upholding and embracing one of the more traditional tools left in our racing heritage

Bio Security was a hot topic and one that Emma Marley; BHA Racecourse Operations was able to speak about with great authority. BHA course inspectors, Richard Linley and Peter Hobbs were also valuable in putting across a clear understanding of the requirements that racecourses have to meet in order to deliver stand-alone fixtures with Roderick Duncan (ARC) highlighting the significant costs involved too.

It was made very clear to all just how important working together is to achieve the best outcomes for all moving forward and the general consensus on all topics was that whilst ARO remains an amateur sport professional integrity is something that should most certainly be upheld for its future success.

A full write up of the Forum is being collated and will be made available to view.

For further information, please contact Alison Lidderdale, Sponsorship and Commercial Manager, at the Arabian Racing Organisation, on 07785 785 375 or at