YARMOUTH RACECOURSE HOPES BOYCOTT HAS NO LASTING IMPACT
David Carr reports for the Racing Post Wednesday March 26th 2008
NORTHERN RACING group managing director Tony Kelly hopes the controversy surrounding the boycott of a race at Yarmouth will cause no lasting damage to the course's relationship with trainers.
Kelly was reluctant to stir things up further before talks with trainers and the Horsemen'sGroup, planned in light of the protest against the group's poor prize-money contributions at the track.
The trainers' action led to just one horse being declared for a maiden on the Easter Monday card. But asked whether he felt the affair could have along-term effect on support for Yarmouth, a popular venue for Newmarket trainers, Kelly said: “I don't think so, that is not what they have said in their statement. I hope when I get to meet them that will be the outcome.
“In my last statement we said we would contact the protagonists during the course of this week, which is what we are going to do. We will sit down, we will talk to them and hopefully we can understand each other's positions a bit better. But I am not going to add fuel to the fire that is already raging. I'm not going to conduct this debate in public.”
Monday's meeting was abandoned due to snow and no decision has yet been made on whether the £18,600 prize-money up for grabs that afternoon will be added to race values at the course's next fixture on April 28. “We haven't talked about that internally yet,” Kelly said. “We will be talking about that this week.”
National Trainers' Federation president Chris Wall, who was involved in the boycott, hopes Kelly will listen to the trainers' views and said: “It never was an NTF issue, but by all means if he wishes to speak to trainers then we will certainly talk to him.
“We have aired our views in public, but we had already aired our views to Northern Racing over a number of years and not really been listened to – perhaps now they might listen.”
As for possible long-term damage to relationships with the course, he said: “The reason for doing this was that Newmarket trainers were frustrated that Yarmouth had fallen so far down the prize-money league, and we very much look forward to continuing strong relationships with Yarmouth.”
Trainers who took part in the boycott are not set to attract disciplinary action by the BHA, which said it did not believe they were in breach of rule 220(iii), which outlaws action “prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing in Britain”.
BHA media relations manager Paul Struthers said on Tuesday: “We will not be looking at charging anyone. We simply don't believe that anything that has happened falls under 220(iii).
“We have had boycotts and strikes before and never done anything under it, although we did look into allegations of bullying and found that it hadn't taken place with regard to the jockeys' mobile phone strike back in 2003.
“If trainers don't want to run at a particular track and owners don't want to run at a particular track because of the prize-money situation that is a matter entirely for them. We can't and wouldn't force owners to run anywhere.”