Resignation from the RSA

Craig McKenna

After much deliberation, we have decided that the right move for the Gold and Green Crowd is to leave the Racing Syndicate Association (RSA). The time we have been a part of the RSA has been beneficial and while we continue to admire their intentions and efforts, we believe not enough is being done to create a fair environment that attains a high standard of practice. 

Here, at The Gold and Green Crowd, our key values are transparency, value, and honesty. We don’t feel that these are values held by several RSA members, and as responsibility for regulation of the syndicates sits with the BHA, there is a disconnect. It would be unfair to suggest that there is zero action taken against syndicates who don’t observe the guidelines, but there are too many misrepresenting what they offer, and what the customer receives for their money.

The badge of the RSA Membership should be a stamp of quality for syndicates who deliver excellence and hold more gravitas, but unfortunately it has been tainted by a small number of syndicate managers who are simply flaunting the rules and continually pursue bad practices without being reprimanded. Most syndicates are working very hard to do things by the book and need to share our frustration that non-compliant syndicates can continue to thrive and make our lives tougher, and yet very little is done to resolve the situation. 

When syndicate misrepresents what they offer or set unrealistic aspirations and therefore don’t deliver on their promises, the whole sport suffers. Possible new owners are lost, trainers loose horses, and a bitter taste is left behind.  

The Gold and Green Crowd believe that the RSA should be taking a pro-active role to police these kinds of behaviours. An association, in theory, should represent a high standard and attain a benchmark that must be met to retain trust and credibility, but we believe the RSA lacks some of necessary presence or power to fulfil this function adequately enough. The motivations and intentions of the committee are all in the right place, as it comprised of quality people who all run superb syndicates but there is still an area that needs to be addressed. The RSA guidelines clearly state what is the right and the wrong thing to do but there is no monitoring to ensure these guidelines are being respected. 

Within the broader context of these challenges, we recognise there is a limit to how much the committee itself can influence the agenda and achieve due to responsibility sitting with the BHA. However, the RSA can affect their immediate sphere of influence, its members. The RSA can’t physically stop these syndicates from trading, but they could they suspend or expel them from the association to set an example. Additionally, they could introduce a new level of membership which encompasses a tight criterion to meet in order to join.

As a result of these issues addressed above, we have come to the decision that we no longer want to hold the same badge as others who do not uphold an acceptable standard of practice. Hopefully this is a short-term message as we feel a strong RSA is critical not just for syndicates, but for the growth of the sport.

Managing Director — Craig McKenna:

“The RSA have all the right intentions and all the right people running the organisation, but unfortunately the membership of this association is no longer a badge of credibility, nor a badge of standard”

“If the kind of change we hope for is made within the association in the future we would be delighted to re-apply as a member” `

“In the interim, we will be publishing what we believe should be the minimum standard of what a syndicate should achieve, and ensuring we surpass that. It is our hope that that this will be improved on by feedback from other syndicates and our clients, ultimately setting a benchmark that ensures this critical part of racehorse ownership can thrive.”

RSA chairman, Dan Abraham has been very professional, and helpful in trying to work with us on our concerns, and his response to the words above are as follows.

My thoughts are that RSA is run by volunteers and we don't have the resources to police our members, nor is it our role to do so. Policing is the role of the BHA who are the regulators of the sport. What we are doing is putting pressure on the BHA to tighten their regulations. All members of the RSA abide by the BHA's Code of Conduct. The RSA can't have different rules than the BHA. They are the sports rule makers. We recently help a Forum with the BHA regarding regulation and all RSA Members were invited to be part to put forward their thoughts and views directly to Harry Williams who is overseeing the regulatory changes in shared-ownership. The RSA provides an opportunity for the voice of our members to be heard, but ultimately we cannot regulate or police those involved in racing and running businesses to a greater degree than the rules of racing and the law allows.

About the author - Camilla Foster

Camilla Foster is a member of The Gold and Green writing team. A final year Journalism undergraduate at Cardiff University who's hoping to start a Broadcast Journalism Masters in September.

Currently, I write for a student current affairs blog called ‘R3trospect’ and a university arts and cultural magazine called ‘Quench’. In the future, I would love to work for somewhere like the BBC and be involved in making documentaries.

In my spare time, I love writing, travelling, and hiking. I am originally from Gloucestershire and enjoy going to Cheltenham Racecourse with my friends. I have a few family members in the racing world, so this job really interested me. The Gold and Green Crowd community is so inclusive and inspiring, so I am really excited to start writing some of your stories about your involvement in the racing world.

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