17th March 2019

Nick Rust is, of course, quite right to say that British racing must keep control of its own sport. He is, however, missing the point that, if British racing was to lose control of the sport, it would be because of, rather than in spite of, the governing body’s current policies on welfare and its efforts to appease those that have no real knowledge of the sport. And, sadly, it would seem that it is not simply a case of the BHA lacking the strength to educate the politicians and the public at large: there is, as I have been saying for quite some time, a desperate lack of horsemanship amongst the executive and on the board of the BHA and they actually believe that their welfare policies will benefit the horses, the breed, and the sport in the long term. I think they are wrong.

A catalogue of recent blunders and poor decisions has shown the BHA to have more in common with, and to be more aligned with the views of, the ignorant majority who have no interest in horseracing than with the people who breed, care for, train and ride the horses which are at the centre of the sport. For me – and I accept that I am part of a minority of those that follow horseracing, never mind those who don’t – the horses and the thoroughbred breed are the raisons d’etre of horseracing. For most of those who govern, manage, and control the sport, horseracing is about entertainment, betting, and selling a social event to the public. Many of them – particularly those that run the racecourses and the betting industry – are very good at what they do but many of us, who actually participate in the sport, or manage those who do, are also good at what we do and we are clearly getting to a point where we have had just about enough of being told how to do it by those who know less.

In today’s Racing Post they have given a dozen or so examples of what they consider to be  ‘the best quotes from a thrilling Cheltenham Festival’. To my mind , they missed the best quote from Cheltenham and one of the best statements I have ever heard made about horseracing and its governance: “If you don’t like racing, go and watch Peppa Pig” – Irish trainer, Ted Walsh.

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