All but one trainer have withdrawn their runners from the final horse jump race at Worcester on Wednesday to protest what they saw as unacceptable prize levels. The jumps trainers who joined the boycott include Nicky Henderson, Philip Hobbs, Jonjo O’Neill, Donald McCain, Alan King and David Pipe.
Punters will see betting odds thrown out as only the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Moulin De La Croix is listed for Wednesday, which is part of the protesters’ strategy. Last week, protest organizer Charlie Mann gave notice that the £3,000 Novices’ Hurdle was a potential target because it was £900 below a tariff set by the Horsemen’s Group.
“We have decided between the 12 of us that one horse will be nominated for a walkover,” he said. “It will cost Worcester £3,000 and that money will go either towards the trainers’ fines or to charity. It won’t be a case of one trainer breaking ranks. This could have been avoided by putting up £900. That was all we were asking for. There are three below-tariff races on the card. If we don’t do something it will just go on,” Mann told racingpost.com.
Mann also said that the boycott will be the first of many unless prize levels in horseracing improve.
Worcester is owned by the recently amalgamated Arena and Northern Racing Group. Philip Hobbs, the next president of the National Trainers’ Federation, told attheraces.com: “I’m a little uncomfortable and would rather not go to these lengths, but we needed to do something. Arena have recently had an enormous rise in their media rights income but prize money continues to fall. They can definitely do better. Worcester hoping to meet tariff next year just isn’t good enough.”