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Top British Steeplechase Trainers Diss Foxhunting

nodh.klmPeter Scargill, writing for the Racing Post, reports that three Cheltenham Festival-winning trainers “launched a ferocious assault” on Nick Rust, CEO of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). In their letter, they rebuked Rust for a list of faults, among them Rust’s recent comparison of racing to a sport like foxhunting—a blood sport—and pronounced Rust unqualified for his leadership role. What?

We publish this report not to judge the merits or policies of the BHA either pro or con, but to express our regret that horsemen of any discipline—especially a discipline like racing which is also a target of animal rights activists, and even more especially a discipline so closely related to foxhunting—would leap to disavow foxhunting in a pathetic attempt to distance themselves and curry favor with those swayed by virulent animal rights activism.

Where did jump racing come from if not foxhunting? As jump racing ultimately comes under continued opposition in Britain, will these three trainers feel they are owed any support or loyalty by other equine sporting institutions…like the dressage federation…or the national horse show association? Or will they accept their role of political hot potato du jour, and stand willing to be abandoned by their brother horsemen just as they have abandoned foxhunting?

The trainers—Mick Channon, Charles Egerton, and Henrietta Knight—expressed other complaints such as the BHA’s hiring of too many Australians who lack an understanding of jump racing, and the BHA’s licensing of trainers with unsustainable businesses. (The latter complaint seems to smack of the old British saw, “I’m alright Jack.”)

British MP Laurence Robertson, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Racing and Bloodstock Industries Group, said such disharmony between the trainers and the BHA was deeply damaging to the sport. Robertson urged the sport’s professionals and regulator to engage in constructive talks to find solutions to problems and cultivate a more positive image of the industry for those outside racing.

He said: “There are so many disparate groups and it’s very unfortunate people feel the need to attack each other. It doesn’t help everything constantly spilling out into the open. Robertson acknowledged that legitimate criticisms of the BHA exist, but expressed his regard for Nick Rust.

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Posted March 26, 2019