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Letter: Give stable staff a free meal.

Byline: MARK SUMNER Munich Germany

Mark Sumner argues that travelling grooms also work for the racecourse and should be treated accordingly I AM really enjoying David Ashforth's series on British and Irish racecourses - he must be smiling like a Cheshire cat landing that assignment!

As always, Mr Ashforth is not only hilarious but makes very salient points.

His remarks concerning the `meal deal' for stable staff at racecourses should inspire action.

I was surprised indeed to read that, while quality, choice and prices are generally acceptable, there is no system in place for issuing compli-mentary meals and drinks to stable staff.

Consider the following: n Staff can be on the road for up to 12 hours, with a further five to six hours on site.

They perform the role of tending their charges for the hours leading up to a race.

They lead up the horses in the parade ring.

They are involved in the health and safety of the horses and spectators on and off the track, e.g. when a horse runs loose it is invariably the groom doing the leg work.

Without their presence, the racecourse would have to employ more staff at considerably more cost than serving up a decent meal.

Stable staff are working not only for their owners and trainers, for which they are paid, but also for the racecourse executive. They deserve a free meal at the racetrack.

I would propose that each member of stable staff attending a racecourse be given a complimentary meal voucher and two refreshment vouchers by the racecourse executive. Additional food and drink can be paid for as before.

The equally excellent Clement Freud, in his Eighty +article, lamented on the irony of plying the winning owner with free champagne ``offering free drink to him who has just won the wherewithal to purchase his own''.

Well said Sir Clement - let us think of those not quite so fortunate.

P erhaps your candlesticks can go to the first racecourse to start a meal voucher system for travelling stable staff.

PS: I think the racecourses in Britain and Ireland are doing a grand job. I always enjoy coming over to see the horses that I am fortunate enough to be involved with run at the racetrack.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 12, 2005
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