BREEDERS countrywide have expressed concern that the National Horseracing Authority (NHA) who are the regulatory body for the sector and the keeper of the stud book, have put plans in place to remove their board representation.
In a recent letter addressed to breeders, BSA Chairlady Susan Rowett points out that a Special General Meeting of the NHA scheduled for Wednesday 20 January could have serious consequences for the breeding community.
Mrs Rowett writes:
The existing constitution ensures that various sections of members of the NHA are all represented on the board of directors – thus there is a director from amongst the breeder members and there are directors from each of the racing districts (Gauteng, KZN, Eastern Cape, Western Cape).
The proposed changes safeguards some measure of regional representation by racing district – albeit slightly reduced in that the racing regions are now defined by operator instead of geographically (so Gauteng and Eastern Cape are now joined), but does away with any representative of the breeder section of its membership.
This means that if the proposed changes are adopted at the SGM, the breeding industry will have no voice on the board of the entity that not only is the regulator the racing industry on which breeders depend, but is also the Keeper of the Stud Book.
This is the very situation that Australian breeders have found themselves in and this was brought up by the Australian TBA at the recent meeting of the International Thoroughbred Breeders Federation.
As a result of various mergers in Australia, the TBA there now have no representation on the newly-formed Racing Australia – the regulator of racing and the keeper of the stud book. The ITBF unanimously supported the motion that breeders should seek to retain representation on the Stud Book and Racing authorities of their countries.
From the Explanatory Memorandum circulated with the papers, it is clear that these proposed changes are as a result of engagements with operators following funding conflicts.
The Memorandum explains that “the funding of the NHA has become a cause of increasing tension” and that “conflicts of interest have proved difficult to manage” with the result that “the conflicts are compromising the ability of the board of the NHA to conduct its affairs”.
It also states that “the election process relevant to the election of Board members is functioning unsatisfactorily”. The Memorandum goes on to conclude that “following engagements with the Racing Operators, it has been agreed to propose amendments to the Constitution which, in summary
– Do away with the entitlement of the Racing Operators, Racing Association and the TBA to nominate members to the Board;
– Establishes a nominations committee which will, henceforth, nominate members to the Board.”
As much as breeders want to support these efforts to achieve a well run NHA, with its board freed of conflict of interests by operators, it is simply not in our best interests to surrender our representation at board level.
We, the breeders, are a section of the membership of the NHA and we have as much right to representation as the other sections of members.
Just as the proposed constitution preserves the right of representation by members in each racing region, so it should for breeder members. In this way the specific interests of all members are covered at Board level.
All that would be needed would be for the proposed Nominations Committee to be required to appoint one director who is a breeder to represent breeders interests.
The TBA Council, on behalf of breeders whose interests it represents, have clearly stated to the NHA Board that the breeders want their interests as breeders to be respected with continued representation on the Board of the NHA. Clearly the NHA board ruled against this and the proposed constitution excludes the breeders.
However it is for the members to decide on the constitution (regardless of the operators who are not members), and so the proposal has to be brought before a SGM of members and so we can have our say by casting our votes.
Regrettably the agenda for the SGM and the proxy forms are drafted in such as way as precludes the members from deciding themselves on how the board should be made up – ie the requirements on how the nominations select their appointments to the board.
Accordingly, we need to vote NO to the whole proposal and push for a re-drafted proposal, which would include representation by all sections of members, to be re-submitted to the members at a reconvened SGM as soon as possible.
Please give this matter your urgent and utmost consideration.
If you cannot attend the SGM on Wednesday 20th January, please send in your proxy before the deadline of 14.30 on Monday 18th January.
In assigning your proxy, please be mindful of the restriction that no member can hold more than 20 proxies.