After weeks of campaigning, slandering and questionable ‘banter’, the UK general election has finally been done and dusted.
The Conservatives won with ease, and barring the Queen cracking Boris Johnson around the had with her sceptre when he visits Buckingham Palace today, the Tories will form a majority government to take us into 2020 and beyond.
Regardless of political affinity, there will be plenty within the horse racing industry that will be breathing a sigh of relief at Boris’ victory.
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats had pledged, either verbally or in writing in their manifestos, that they would be launching a full and frank investigation into the horse racing industry – specifically equine welfare – were they to be successful at the polls.
Now, while we’re not suggesting he doesn’t have an interest in the welfare of animals, Johnson made no such promises in his own campaigning efforts.
As such, the racing industry can continue doing what they do best without fear of governmental intervention in the near future.
The Tories have, by association and even perhaps by accident, already aided the sport indirectly. They introduced the £2 maximum stake law with regards to FOBT machines in betting shops, which the leading firms of bookies have declared has harmed their earnings significantly – and thus decreased the amount paid into the racing levy fund.
But Labour wanted legal reforms to go even further as far as the gambling industry is concerned, and that would have taken more money out of racing’s already minimalist coffers.
Ironically, the member of Parliament tasked with looking after animal welfare actually lost his seat.
The Conservative MP for Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith, was deposed and will now lose his position as the animal welfare minister with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
Brexit Countdown Has Racing on Tenterhooks
Another implication of the Conservatives’ win is that Boris Johnson now has his mandate to push through his Brexit deal.
There’s no way of tiptoeing around it: Brexit is not a good thing for horse racing.
When the freedom of people, goods and – yes – horses is halted because of new customs regulations, there are clearly going to be financial and time penalties for trainers and connection to overcome.
The sale of horses from Ireland, one of the richest sources of bloodstock animals, becomes at best a nuisance and at worst a nightmare, with the costs of importing horses from the EU member nation into the UK a burden for all but the biggest and most successful of yards.
Talk about equine welfare….there will be delays getting horses through customs too, so when UK based runners are travelling to meetings in Ireland, France or elsewhere, there will be other, no-financial, factors to consider.
The health of horses and their biosecurity has to be of huge concern to the industry, particularly with the best breeding thoroughbreds literally earning their money from travelling the world to do the deed.
An estimate from the BHA’s ‘Ready for Brexit’ arm revealed that 11% of all horse racing industry employees in Britain come from EEA countries.
The Conservatives’ election victory brings with it certainty and stability for horse racing as a whole, and the hope is that they can somehow lessen the unavoidable impact of Brexit on the sport too.