These are tough times for racehorse trainers. We employ 48 people, and have managed to keep them all on; none have been furloughed. Perhaps those who criticise racing’s approach to resumption might think otherwise if they had to employ a work force, and rely on owners who pay monthly in arrears.
There are a great many flat trainers struggling because of the lockdown, and I dread to think what will happen to some of them if we don’t resume in May. The only certainty in that scenario is that there will be April training invoices left unpaid, and a number of trainers who will go to the wall if they are not bailed out.
As far as the horses here are concerned, we are training them as normal, whilst we haven’t done much (or any) fast work. It has dried up very quickly, but that isn’t a bad thing, and the horses generally are thriving in this weather.
I am spending plenty of time on NTF business, whilst the man I feel most sorry for here is our gallopman, Taras. His heart must sink every time I approach him, with yet another project or task. At this rate it’s going to be Christmas before he gets through the list I keep adding to.
Predictably there have been a lot of ideas expressed on resumption of racing. Many of them have been perfectly sensible, some of them less so – my personal favourite was the idea that racing could resume at Newmarket, but with only Newmarket trained horses. Not even in either World War, with petrol rationing and a limited number of trains, was such an unfortunate idea put forward.
I understand those who don’t want to resume because of the negative PR it might induce. But racing has always had it’s critics, and had the same issues in both World Wars. They overcame the problem then (all five Classics were run every year), and we will do now.
Racing has a fantastic opportunity this summer to gain popularity, and we need to be decisive in our approach to that; there will be no Tour de France, no Olympics, no European Championships, no Wimbledon, no Open golf, and no cricket before June. Racing will resume when lockdown eases, we plan on being ready.