Non-paying owners face ban
Owners who leave trainers with unpaid bills are set to be barred from having any runners in Ireland, it was agreed at this week's Irish Racehorse Trainers' AGM.
Unanimous backing was given to all training fees being paid through Horse Racing Ireland, rather than directly to the trainer. Many have been looking for this to happen for years and attendees were informed that HRI was backing the initiative.
One trainer said: "I could be owed €4,000 in fees for a horse. The owner takes him home and later sends him to another trainer. I'm left out of pocket.
"What will now happen is that the owner can not only not run the horse after moving it to the new trainer, no horse that he owns can run under rules until the bill is sorted."
Since the start of the recession in particular, trainers across the country have been left unpaid for horses and training fees, with owners unable or unwilling to cough up.
Other matters which saw heated debate included over-watering during the summer. Some leading Flat personnel argued that course clerks, under pressure from racecourse managers, were watering tracks unnecessarily.
This, they insisted, not only accounted for extremely inaccurate going descriptions but also ground that resulted in horses losing their footing, particularly at bends, making it an extreme hazard for horse and rider.
It was agreed that trainers' CEO Michael Grassick would discuss this matter with Denis Egan, CEO of the Turf Club.
The Irish Stable Staff Association's (ISSA) appeals for the minimum wage being introduced was another hot topic.
The ISSA was strongly criticised, with trainers suggesting it did not represent stable staff adequately and was producing very little in the way of results considering the money given to it.
The ISSA is to continue talks with the trainers in its quest for improved conditions.
Meanwhile, British champion Jim Crowley has stressed that his chance of a repeat title victory did not end with the news that he will replace Paul Hanagan as Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's first jockey.
Gigginstown will be double-handed in the stanjames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle with Petit Mouchoir, the mount of Bryan Cooper, and the Jack Kennedy-ridden Apple's Jade.
Kennedy, 17, is deeply grateful to connections for giving him such a high-profile ride and says he feels in top shape after returning from injury. "She has a nice chance and she'll come on from the run the last day."
Carlingford Lough, winner of the Gold Cup at Punchestown last April, is out for the remainder of the year. The popular JP McManus-owned gelding has suffered "a minor setback," said Frank Berry, the owner's racing manager. "He'll be back after Christmas."
There is better news for Faugheen, which is back riding out after missing Sunday's Morgiana Hurdle due to a bruised foot.