THE British and Irish racing and bloodstock industries have adopted a new Code of Practice for bloodstock sales which promises to prevent “serious malpractice” in the sales ring.
Among the practices now explicitly banned by the new code is the payment of “luck money” by a vendor to the purchaser. The Code states “Participants should be clear that there can generally be no legitimate reason for an agent or purchaser to be rewarded in any way by the vendor.”
It is also forbidden for a person to act for both buyer and vendor “without prior informed consent” or for parties to collude in “bidding up” the price of a horse, save for when the vendor has instructed a third party to bid a horse to its reserve price.
Both Goffs and Tattersalls have undertaken to investigate any alleged breach of the Code and potentially exclude a person from their sales if found to have breached the Code.
The British Horseracing Authority has “adopted” the Code and will also investigate alleged breaches. Any person found in breach may be warned off by the BHA. The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board “supports” the Code and “will have due regard to a breach of the Code when exercising their powers over individuals licensed by them or who seek to be licensed by them.”
The new Code will be formally incorporated into the rules of British racing on August 16th and replaces the previous Bloodstock Industry Code of Practice which has been in place since in 2009 and the ITBA Sales Code of Practice, operational since 2010.
Tattersalls’ director Jimmy George, who chairs the Bloodstock Industry Forum, said: “It has been a long process, but in response to the BHA Review of the Buying and Selling of Racehorses and Bloodstock in Britain, the Bloodstock Industry Forum is delighted to have finalised a new, robust Bloodstock Industry Code of Practice which has been approved by all of the key British and Irish industry bodies as well as the British Horseracing Authority and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.
“The new Code of Practice will be formally incorporated into the rules of British racing and appear in all Tattersalls and Goffs sales catalogues, starting with the forthcoming Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale.
“It will also be widely disseminated and available through all BIF member organisations as well as being subject to regular review. Importantly the new Code of Practice has introduced a complaints procedure independent of the industry bodies and individuals found to be in breach of the Code, either in criminal or civil proceedings or having been sanctioned by the BHA for breach of the code, will also be subject to exclusion from participating at Tattersalls and Goffs sales in Britain and Ireland.
Goffs’ CEO Henry Beeby added: “I am pleased that the British and Irish racing and bloodstock industries have come together to deliver one gold standard to enhance the buying and selling of bloodstock on these shores.
“From an auction house perspective we certainly insist on the same transparency and high standards of integrity at every sale we conduct regardless of location, and feel this new Code addresses all the issues raised in the BHA report.”
Horse Racing Ireland CEO Brian Kavanagh said: “Horse Racing Ireland and the IHRB welcome the new Code of Practice. We acknowledge the work and collaboration by the Bloodstock Industry Forum in drafting this document, and look forward to continuing our work with all stakeholders.”
Oliver St Lawrence, on behalf of the Federation of Bloodstock Agents (FBA), confirmed more rigorous procedures for membership of the association, saying: "Just like the other members of BIF, the FBA have embraced the principles of the BHA Bloodstock Review and have been heartened by the collaboration and willingness to address comprehensively the issues it highlighted.
“Together with a raft of other new measures, this upgraded Code should protect principals with a significant tightening up of the definition of acceptable ethical behaviour by all participants in the buying and selling of bloodstock and fully clarifies the law in the UK and Ireland.
“We at the FBA have tightened our membership requirements, which includes all members undertaking the new Bloodstock Education course, and are pleased to be endorsed by the BHA, and other BIF members, as an association which represents the highest standards of integrity and the recommended trade body that principals should look to use."
MORE ON THIS STORY IN THE IRISH FIELD NEXT WEEKEND