5th January 2018
Happy New Year.
I had a quick look through old Bletherings (it didn’t take long) to see if I had commented when the BHA introduced its new threshold for percentage of non runners. I didn’t and I should have. I did make comment in my November Kingsley Klarion column and you can read that on this website if you wish.
I am, of course, totally against the ruling. If these non-runners are unfit to run, through disease, injury, or anything else affecting their wellbeing, then it most certainly is not in the interests of the sport, or anyone else for that matter, to put pressure on owners and trainers to run. If, as the BHA clearly suspects, a significant number of non-runners are actually fit to run, then the BHA should be asking themselves why an owner or trainer doesn’t want to run a perfectly fit horse when it is costing them so much to train it and running is surely its raison d’etre.
Today the Racing Post published the table of trainers who are falling outside the BHA’s threshold and Middleham handler, Ben Haslam, is in the unfortunate position of heading this particular trainers’ table. He rightly points out that nine months of the data is the same as that published when the ruling was introduced on 30th September and, with only 18 declarations in that period, he has had very little opportunity to get his percentage down and, unfortunately, he has had four non-runners from the 18. However, three of the four non-runners were withdrawn on veterinary advice and veterinary certificates were submitted for them. Furthermore, two of those three have not been fit to run since. Does anyone really think they should have run? Is the BHA questioning the validity of the veterinary certificates? I hope not.
Of the twenty trainers exceeding the threshold, now only one is a jump trainers. That, surely, shows us, as clear as day, that the increase in non-runners on the flat is entirely down to 48 hour declarations. Yet, just yesterday, Bruce Millington, editor of the Racing Post, was extolling the virtues of 48-hour declarations in his Racing Post column and calling for that system to be extended to Irish flat racing and British jump racing. It won’t happen, of course, because the BHA have learned their lesson from flat racing. They saw a 50% increase in non-runners immediately on the introduction of 48-hour declarations and they know that the increase would almost certainly be far greater for jumping.