Monday, 30 April 2012



TODAY'S CARDS Ballinrobe (IRE)  (Jumps Turf ) Exeter (Jumps Turf) 
Kempton Park (Flat AW ) Lingfield Park ( Flat AW )
  Sedgefield (Jumps Turf)   Yarmouth (Flat Turf)  


JIMBO speaks out against an initiative that he believes has ramifications for the racing industry as a whole.
"Horsemen's Group bonuses were introduced on April 18th covering almost
100 races over Flat and Jumps.

"AS THERE is no rule in racing requiring any registered owner to be a member of one of its constituent bodies, ipso facto no discriminatory action pertaining to racing can take place against anyone on such a basis alone.

"Quite clearly, the Horsemen's Group's bonus scheme, which specifically  targets people (as opposed to horses) who are otherwise deemed 'fit and proper' under the rules of racing, runs
contrary to this and arguably, the laws of the land pertaining to discrimination. Had this instance concerned race, religion or gender, by now it may well have been a national issue and its perpetrators running for cover.

"The Horsemen's Group's wafer-thin justification on its right to flout the rules of racing, at the same time dragging umpteen others along with it, is laughable. It neither initiated the bonus scheme fund (circa £480,000) nor received the money from the Racecourse Association with such an expectation in mind.

"It also failed to carry out an agreed consultation with the RCA and the BHA as to how best the fund could be used to help racing per se. Out of the blue, this grubby scheme appeared. But, anyway, with the opening point very much in mind, all such arguments are redundant.

"Don't think these views have been inflicted  on you without my having attempted to put them before the relevant parties.

"In the case of the BHA, whose chairman assured me the scheme would be discussed at its monthly board meeting on April 17, there has been no response. Why?  If it's all kosher, it would have taken a few seconds for someone at the BHA to let me know how and why.

"Does it not realise this is a serious issue that potentially has wide-ranging ramifications for the whole industry concerning representation and regulation?

"So far as two of the constituent bodies are concerned, Rachel Hood and Rupert Arnold, on behalf of the Racecourse Owners' Association  and the National Trainers' Federation respectively,  issue polite fob-off emails to a letter I sent on April 4, stressing as this was a HG initiative Alan Morecombe, it's chief executive, would reply instead. At the same time, Rachel invited me to come and discuss my "concerns".

"Two weeks later, Morecombe finally responded, his letter more at pains to stress the HG's relevance and status within racing, as opposed to answering any of the specific points I raised with Hood and Arnold.

"But it is Hood and Arnold who should have concerns. They are party to a hostile action by a so-called legitimate group, whose representative sits on the authority that exists to govern racing fairly and in the interests of everyone!

"Interestingly, Morecombe's letter also assured me that non-members of the National Association of Stable Staff will not now be precluded from bonus payments. On the one hand, that's great news. Phew, at last kicking up a fuss apparently means some of racing's lowest-paid workers won't be subjected to the same cynical prejudice as others.

"However, with the other (hand) very much in mind, that's not what it says on the tin or the ROA website.

"In view of the BHA's recent zealous application of the rules of racing in other situations (Notably to Kirsty Milczarek  and Richard Hughes) it is scarcely believable this scheme ever saw the light of day. So when is its 'world-leading integrity' going to swing in to action?  Hundreds of owners, clearly  now without anyone to defend our interests,  need to know and soon.

"The whole absurd, shabby scenario  was put into context at Newbury a week last Friday, when the world's most famous owner, the Queen, patron of the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association but, understandably, not a member of any of racing's constituent bodies, was present on an occasion that has now become an annual mini-break for her. Low-key, clearly enjoying herself at the races, presumably with people she both likes and trusts. She is by far the highest profile of the 1,690 'active' owners against whom this Horsemen's Group bonus scheme blatantly discriminates.

 As such, it would be fascinating to know her thoughts. After all, a number beside her  in the paddock then, including some of those behind this, have been guests in her carriage and house parties at Royal Ascot .

"That trainers, via the NTF, are party to an obviously discriminatory scheme surely renders invalid mandatory BHA agreements (which authorise trainers to act as owner's agents, and which every owner has to sign) concerning non-ROA owners. With this in mind, how can, say, Sir Michael Stoute for the Queen, any more than Richard Fahey, Tim Easterby  or Mark Johnston for me, be said to be representing an owner's best interests?

"OF COURSE, the Queen (who neither involves herself in, nor comments upon, situations like this) relies on her bloodstock advisers to take care of racing matters. Some 450 years ago, they wouldn't have needed to worry on her behalf - very likely those responsible would have been found guilty of treason and dealt with accordingly.

"It is possible to have some sympathy for Paul Roy and his BHA board who,  encouraging and helping the Horsemen's Group (it has loaned the HG £500,000) , had this scheme bounced on them without warning. However, the BHA is racing's guardian  and, at the moment, by failing to stop this scheme it is in effect regulating against people who have done nothing to warrent such treatment.

"So what to do instead? Sue our trainers for failing to act in our best interests? Call for a vote of no confidence in the BHA? Seek a referral of the board of the Horsemen's Group to the Crown Prosecution Service for discrimination, misconduct and the misappropriation of funding?

"For sure there are options. But, as the above hopefully illustrates, either individually, or collectively, those affected, including some of the biggest owners in racing, as well as a few of its most generous sponsors, simply shouldn't have to. What a disgrace.

"The whole episode has made me vow never to rejoin any of racing's  constituent bodies. What fair-minded individual wants anything to do with one coming  under  the auspices of the Horsemen's Group. replete with  dubious leadership and politics, selfish, coercive activity  and general abuse of power? Not me, that's for sure."

"Horsemen's Group bonuses were introduced on April 18 covering almost 100 races over Flat and Jumps to the end of 2012. Underwritten by an HG development fund,  the scheme features a £5,000 bonus added to races held only at racecourses to have received HG partner status.

"The scheme applies only to winning connections who are members of their relevant Horsemen's Group member associations, whether the Racehorse Owners' Association , National Trainers' Federation, Professional Jockeys Association, Thoroughbred Breeders' Association  and National Association of Stable Staff."     ENDS


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