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By | June 20, 2001

      The future of horseracing consortium Go Racing is in serious doubt after the collapse of talks with the British Horseracing Board (BHB) over the supply of pre-race data.

      The Go Racing consortium, composed of Channel 4, BSkyB, and race course owner Arena Leisure, and 49 UK racecourses, have signed a ten year rights deal to bring televise British horseracing.

      Go Racing CEO Christopher Stoddart said, “The BHB has refused to give a price for the supply of pre-race data. The BHB has spoken to Go Racing direct, but has refused to supply a firm price. They have said that they will not ask more for data than the total value of the deal that we have negotiated with the racecourses for all rights. This is plainly ludicrous, as it sets the potential price far too high, and creates maximum uncertainty for Go Racing.

      “Go Racing cannot take the significant business risk of having important rights excluded. In particular, the right to exploit new technology platforms has not now been included, despite Go Racing’s GBP307 million guarantee.”

      Meanwhile the Office of Fair Trading has launched a competition inquiry into the BHB’s supply of pre-race data to Internet betting sites.

      The Competition Act inquiry follows a complaint from bookmaker William Hill that BHB is abusing a dominant position as the sole provider of race and runner data on UK horseracing. The bookmaker alleges that this has enabled BHB to set excessive and discriminatory pricing and restrictive licensing terms.

      The OFT found that after preliminary enquiries into the complaint it had reasonable grounds for suspecting that BHB had abused its dominant position, thereby infringing the 1998 Competition Act, and has launched a formal inquiry. The OFT has requested information from the BHB, its agent Weatherbys, bookmakers with internet betting sites and other users of pre-race data such as newspapers.

      A spokesman for the OFT declined to comment on the ongoing investigation, but said that if the investigation finds against BHB, the Director General of Fair Trading, John Vickers, could impose severe financial penalties and force the BHB to provide unconditional access to the pre-race data.

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