HRI chief Brian Kavanagh to head review of IFHA structure

Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh is to head a steering committee that will review the structure and constitution of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities for the first time since its formation in 1994.

Kavanagh was on Tuesday re-elected to serve a further three-year term as one of three IFHA vice-chairmen, alongside Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges and Jim Gagliano, chief executives of the Hong Kong and US Jockey Clubs respectively. Louis Romanet, chairman of the IFHA since its inception, was also re-elected until October 2021.

Romanet, whose father Jean wrote the body’s founding statutes, said: “We want to review the global strategy and governance of the IFHA. We have to adapt our governance to what is happening around the world, to be more professional and have people who can spend the time and have the resources to implement our strategic plan for the next three years and beyond.

“We will be looking at how we should do it, who should do what, whether we have the right technical committees and how we can be most efficient.”

Romanet added: “If we are to address specific issues, such as approaching the US over medication, we have to organise ourselves as closely as possible to sports federations. While we cannot impose rules, because we do not organise competitive events, we can recommend best practice and verify compliance of the basic principles.”

Time is of the essence, Romanet said, with a view to Kavanagh’s steering committee getting down to serious work by the end of the year. Special IFHA executive council meetings have been planned for March during the Dubai World Cup fixture and May on the eve of the full reopening of facilities at the Curragh, so that proposals can be outlined at the 2019 conference.

At Monday’s executive council meeting the appointment of Phil Smith, recently retired BHA head of handicapping, as adviser to the IFHA’s race-planning committee was approved. He replaces Ireland Ciaran Kennelly, who has stood down on health grounds.

The meeting also accepted an application for full IFHA membership from the Equestrian Federation of Iran, where horseracing with “tolerated betting” has made great strides in the last six years, conference delegates were told on Monday.

Romanet said: “The approval of Iran as a new member is a great example of the fact that the IFHA is not a political organisation, because everybody on the executive council approved, including our American friends. It shows that whatever the conflict around the world, we try to do the best for racing.”