Chairman’s Message


May I take this opportunity to thank you all for the support, for a position I have never craved, as Chairman of this organisation.

At this time, I would like to acknowledge Mr Roy Sheedy, the outgoing Chairman, for his services to harness racing in Great Britain.

My ambition in my new role is to attempt to coordinate the promotion of the sport, hoping to nurture seeds of growth.
I do not want to see this great sport continually dragged through the law courts, whilst this happens the energy of the officials is drained and focus is lost on the main duties of steering the sport in the desired direction.

It is the BHRC’s responsibility to listen and work for its members, we must bring all the regions of Scotland, England and Wales together, and not be dismissive of those in Wales unaffiliated to our organisation.

Incidentally, I am a believer in one person one vote and understand the BHRC are looking to change the constitution.

We all share a passion for harness racing, that’s stating the obvious, I know, and we can all be proud of the achievements of Matticulous in the US, who now is joined in North America by his former stablemate Evenwood Sonofagun. I’m sure everyone in this country wish the connections of these pacers every success.
It is a shame we have lost these stars from our shores but we can take heart at the fact they graced our tracks – lets wave the flag!

If I owned a Magic Wand it would be waved to increase the purses for the pacers, it regularly happens in my dreams but then wake up!
You have probably heard this before, but I am keen to pursue a live streaming project, there are members of the betting industry who can work with us, however they do have concerns over our integrity.

Which brings me onto the Rule Book and Stewarding Model. It is my understanding a full review of the Rule Book is being undertaken, this is to be applauded.

With reference to stewarding, many owners, trainers and drivers feel a way forward is to employ a Stipendiary Steward, with every meeting assigned said official, this will hopefully bring professionalism and consistency to the policing of the sport.

There are retired BHA officials who have offered their services, either advisory or even filling the roles, of course it has to paid for, which may mean a levy to be paid on each entry. However, such an important issue should be put to the license holders of the country during the close season.

Along with a new Stewarding Model, I would be eager to instigate the recording of all enquiries, both in footage and audio, to protect all officials and participants, as I’m sure you will all agree there have been some unacceptable scenes at our tracks this season.

It is my wish to bolster our relationship with our neighbours in Ireland and France.
I am full of admiration for what the IHRA have achieved in recent years and feel they are an example to us on this side of the Irish sea.
Of course, their growth is heavily centred around links with France and the UET, and I for one, can see the benefits of such close ties with Le Trot.
Those benefits would include, improved purses, professional guidance on integrity, opportunities for our drivers to participate abroad and chances of employment on the continent.
When talking France we are not talking about disorganised road racing, we are speaking about an involvement with a country that languishes in a multimillion Euro environment.
In the near future, with your support, I would like to arrange a meeting between BHRC representatives and members of Trot Britain to discuss a restructuring program for our governing body, handing over the governance of trotting races to Trot Britain, by doing so we may be on track for increased recognition from France and the rest of Europe.

We must thank STAGBI for their continued work linked to the sport, and it is to be hoped a strong working relationship continues between them and the BHRC.

Any organisation needs a decent, well-oiled engine room, in our case the Head Office.
One criticism I regularly hear is about the office and how it is not easily accessible to license holders, and this website should be a focal point for the sport – at the moment it is failing. So much more can be made of this site.

The office ideally should be in a position to handle all entries, with cards published around four days prior to racing on the website and driver declarations made in advance of race day – currently there are far too many changes on the day of racing.
So, in other words a better structured system for entries, it might be a idea for all promoters to publish their proposed race programs on the website about 14 days in advance of race day?

Think about this, think about our shop window, we need to present our window professionally, displaying our sport in the best light, policed to the highest degree – not a lawless free for all where anything goes.
The shop window, of course, is the racetrack. Do we want more fans through the gate? Yes, we do!
So, lets think about how we present the sport, that’s why I have stepped forward, to try and help.

Back to the positives, we congratulate Richard Haythornthwaite on representing Great Britain recently in an International Drivers Race in Belgium and take pride at Steven Lees, who has been shortlisted for a young broadcasting talent competition on ITV Racing.
The latter is a feather in the cap for everyone who has promoted the kids’ Pony Race Series this year, a great initiative which hopefully will continue to grow.

They are my hopes and dreams for the sport, are they achievable? I would like to think so but the BHRC need to listen and work for you!

What I have said all along is that I am a Race Caller and broadcaster not an administrator, but I will try my best and will delegate to achieve goals.

At this point I would like to apologise to you all for the BHRC’S recent failings and update you on recent events.

You maybe aware the company secretary Kirsty Lee has handed in her resignation, in her absence office administrator Hollie Sutcliffe faces a monumental task and our thanks go to her for her efforts.

There was a roller coaster of an AGM recently, which saw the recruitment of a new Chairman and Vice chair.
It’s now time to be frank, my first few days in this position have not been pleasurable, I have headed to the door and reached for the handle several times, itching to make my escape from an organisation, that at the moment mirrors the Alamo.
We obviously don’t want the BHRC to suffer the same fate as that famous Mission in Texas but I have to be honest with you all, At the moment I do not have confidence in the BHRC Board working together for the betterment of the sport, I feel there is a big divide at the top table.
Unlike a prime minister I am unable to choose my own cabinet but would hope to be in a position to work with the members of the board.
I am Chairman, but sad to say, at present I have little confidence in the governing body, I hope this will change. I am so sorry, but honesty is the best policy.

Your views matter, remember the sport belongs to us all.

Thank you.

Darren Owen