Ralph Beckett, who will take over as the president of the National Trainers’ Federation on 1 January, said here on Friday that he believes 10% of the country’s 500 trainers could go out of business if racing cannot urgently agree a plan for the sport’s funding, following the news that spectators will remain barred from Britain’s tracks for at least the next six months.
Plunging temperatures and a gale-force wind added to the autumnal bleakness of the Rowley Mile on Friday afternoon, and Beckett’s view of one possible future for racing was equally stark.
“I think it’s going to be tough for trainers,” he said in an interview with ITV Racing. “There are 500 members of the NTF and I can see us losing 10% of those members. I hope that doesn’t happen, obviously, and the NTF will be working hard to ensure that it doesn’t, but it’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure.”
Beckett has long been highly active in the cut-and-thrust of racing politics, and is understood to have been involved in recent informal discussions between the sport’s Horsemen’s Group – representing owners, trainers and jockeys and stable staff – and senior figures from Britain’s racecourses on potential reforms to the Levy system.
While these discussions initially seemed to have taken place behind the back of the British Horseracing Authority, Beckett said on Friday that “there is no truth that the BHA is not party to anything”, and that the authority will need to be on board for the sport to move forward, ideally before the end of the year.
“I’d like to see the triumvirate, ie the Horsemen, the racecourses and the BHA, go to government with a plan when it comes to Levy reform,” Beckett said. “It’s got to be sustainable and for the long term. I think something needs to be done by Christmas, because once January comes around, they’ll all be on Brexit and everything else again, and so it needs to be done in the next two months in my view.”
Chris Cook’s Saturday racing tips
Market Rasen12.35 Aggy With It 1.05 Hiconic 1.35 Do You Know What 2.10 Dead Right (nb) 2.45 Red Force One 3.20 Hypnos 3.55 Say Nothing 4.25 Dorking Rogue
Haydock 12.55 Lady Hayes 1.30 Military Mission 2.05 Mustarrid 2.40 Count D’orsay 3.10 Music Society 3.45 Goshen 4.15 Doubling Dice
Newmarket 1.15 Conservatoire 1.50 New Mandate 2.25 Miss Amulet 3.00 Method 3.35 Walhaan (nap) 4.10 Mystery Angel 4.40 Ghalyoon
Ripon 2.20 Hey Mr 2.55 Surprise Picture 3.30 Afandem 4.05 Abel Handy 4.35 Strawberry Rock 5.10 Jacinta De Vega 5.40 Vintage Polly
Chelmsford 4.45 Mrs Benson 5.15 Mans Not Trot 5.45 Fair Man 6.15 Solid Stone 6.45 Shine So Bright 7.15 Pleasure Garden 7.45 Daysan 8.15 Swell Song
Beckett left Newmarket with a winner on Friday after Antonia De Vega stayed on well to beat Alpinista in the Muhaarar Stakes, while Kameko, the 2,000 Guineas winner here in June, finally got his head back in front in the Group Two Joel Stakes. Andrew Balding’s colt is now 5-1 second-favourite for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot next month, behind the odds-on market leader, Palace Pier.