The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced a trial that will provide owners with the chance to design their own bespoke racing silks.

From Monday 23rd January, owners are invited to submit designs for silks that they would like to register. While the silks will still need to be distinguishable and describable for the racing public they are not required to conform to all the usual restrictions placed on owners’ colours.

To help owners design their silks, the BHA has published guidelines along with a downloadable submission form.

Each submission received will be first considered by BHA judges and Weatherbys to ensure the colours do not clash with any other silks, with the views of racecourse commentators also being sought. Following this, the BHA will select two of the most striking designs and offer the right to register these sets of colours to the owners who designed them for a fee of £5,000 + VAT.

20% of all proceeds will be split between Racing Welfare and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), the official charities of the BHA, with the remainder of the income targeted at initiatives to improve racehorse ownership and to help recruit and retain racehorse owners. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 28th February.

The initiative is the second step in the BHA’s liberalisation of owners’ colours and follows an auction of never-before-seen silks in September 2016. In addition to generating interest both inside and outside of the sport, feedback from the auction clearly demonstrated that owners would welcome greater flexibility in designing racing colours. Not only could liberalisation improve the retention of existing owners, but it can also help introduce new owners, particularly businesses who might want to register their corporate colours, into the sport.

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the BHA, said: “For many owners, selecting racing colours is an exciting part of the ownership experience and we are committed to providing all owners with a greater range of designs to choose from. In addition, we believe an opportunity exists to use silks to attract new owners into the sport with, for example, businesses creating bespoke designs in their corporate colours.

“The trial will not only show the appetite that exists among owners for premium, bespoke silks, it will also give us an indication of the types of designs owners would like to use, and how many are likely to be distinguishable for the racing public. In addition, the BHA is committed to providing all owners with greater choice and feedback from this trial will help when expanding the standard range of patterns available to owners in the coming months.”

Once again feedback on this trial will help shape how liberalisation progresses, but it is anticipated that the BHA will introduce a new system where owners can, for a premium, design their own colours subject to approval. In addition, in the short term, the BHA is committed to establishing a wider selection of designs as part of the standard range. At present owners are restricted to only a handful of patterns and expanding this will give all owners greater choice when registering colours.

The work to further liberalise owners’ colours will continue alongside a number of other key ownership initiatives. These include the previously announced streamlining of ownership administration through the launch of the new Racing Administration site for owners, the alignment of re-registration fees and the consolidation of ownership types.

John Turner, racehorse owner who purchased distinctive “horseshoe” silks via the recent auction, and CEO of Regulatory Finance Solutions, said: “As an enthusiastic racehorse owner, I jumped at the chance to own the horseshoe silks when they were auctioned last year. From watching racing in the United States you are accustomed to seeing a variety of designs and colours that capture the imagination.

“Giving British owners more choice is a great idea and having the chance to create something bespoke and personal to you is a fantastic initiative. I fully expect there to be a strong response from owners to this trial and, in particular, from companies for whom this could be a massive opportunity to get their corporate colours and logo onto the racecourse.”

Sarah Elsley

Sarah Elsley is a freelance editor and proofreader who is the Junior News Editor for Eclipse magazine. She has a degree in English Literature and is a keen horse rider with an interest in fashion at the races and fiction writing.

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