‘Little point’ of owners going to some fixtures says syndicate manager

A syndicate manager has expressed his frustration at the current experience for owners on some racecourses.

Peter Kerr, who runs Kim Bailey's racing partnerships for the yard in the Cotswolds, said he was disappointed with his recent visits to National Hunt venues.

Owners have been able to attend fixtures since the start of July, but their movements are restricted under Covid-19 guidelines.

They are in a separate zone to trainers and jockeys – and are unable to enter the parade ring.

Kerr said he was unimpressed with the viewing facilities at Stratford and Uttoxeter, with the latter track letting owners use a platform for disabled racegoers and watch via a small TV at the end of it.

"We are delighted that racing is taking place and all credit must go to the racing authorities for getting horse racing to be one of the first sports to return to action," said Kerr.

"However, the plight of the racehorse owner is not a good one at present and I feel the BHA (British Horseracing Authority ) and the ROA (Racehorse Owners Association) should be justly criticised.

"It is understandable in the present climate that normal service cannot be resumed but surely the people who spend a fortune on having horses to run for the benefit of everyone else should be taken more into consideration and looked after better."

Writing about recent racedays for Bailey's blog, he said it was 'strange' he could take a syndicate of owners to the pub but not into the parade ring, which is 'not totally uncontrolled like a beach.'

"I have been to three different racecourses recently and frankly there currently seems little point in an owner attending, it isn’t a pleasurable experience even if you have a winner," he said.

"Being in the parade ring is an essential part of racehorse ownership and the longer this insistence of owners not being allowed to enter will have a long term effect on retaining owners added to the fact you cannot get into the winners enclosure or the unsaddling area, or conveniently talk to your trainer and jockey, all of which are outdoors."

The BHA said separating owners from raceday workers was a key factor in them being able to return to the racecourse quickly in risk-managed way.

It has previously been stated the reintroduction of owners increases the likelihood of people attending racecourses from wider geographical areas.

The use of dedicated zones safely manages the increased numbers, while continuing to apply social distancing measures.

Public health authorities have made it clear to the BHA that they will consider a 14-day quarantine period for those in the same zone as someone who tests positive for Covid-19.

"We know that the strict protocols present additional challenges, and we are grateful for the way participants and officials have adapted quickly to the new processes over the past two months," said a BHA spokesperson.

"However, with government and public health concerns about a rise in cases and a potential ‘second wave’, it is vital that racing continues to follow the protocols so that we can resume progress towards re-introducing spectators at the earliest available opportunity through the re-scheduling of pilot events."

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Ed Vaughan and Gay Kelleway are among the trainers who have criticised the current situation for owners.

The Horserace Betting Levy Board has just agreed to fund £1.46m of one-off costs incurred by racecourses to meet regulatory standards and guidance for hosting fixtures in the current environment.

Chief executive of the Racehorse Owners Association, Charlie Liverton, said he is aware of the challenges.

“We have always been clear that the situation on many racecourses needs to improve for owners," he added.

"New guidance we worked on allows for that and though many racecourses – Goodwood for example – have put their best foot forward, others have to step up.

"Racing is required to operate within government guidelines."

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