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Letter: Owners need to take drastic action now.

Byline: Patrick Gilligan

NIC COWARD, BHA chief executive, describes the bookmakers' claim for a 60 per cent reduction in funding as "frustrating". Hmm, well that's told the bookmakers then.

Owners are racing, full stop. Trainers need to stand up for their owners, and that includes you guys at the top. At what stage will these big owners decide the joke has gone too far - will you expect them to be happy for you to enter their 250,000gns purchase for a maiden worth perhaps pounds 700 to the winner?

This is the direction British racing is headed in - fast.

Owners require prize-money, staff need good pensions, and trainers need to have a better chance of making a living. The enthusiasm of owners is being cynically exploited by both the bookmakers and the racecourses, and the BHA has done nothing about it.

Trainers, owners, stable staff - you are British racing. Coward, Rob Hughes, and Chris Bell - their lives won't be ruined if British racing collapses.

Nobody wants to contemplate it, but perhaps it really is time to halt all runners until this mess is sorted out once and for all.

I have been in racing for 25 years, and the prize-money issue has been rumbling on throughout that time.

Run your horses in France or Ireland, or just take a well-deserved break (I can recommend it). But unless you (that is trainers, owners, stable staff) take radical action now, you will almost certainly find yourselves racing for less and less money each year.

Get together, state what you are prepared to race for (including expenses for all runners), then walk away and let the bookmakers and racecourses fight over how your demands are to be financed. It may be wishful thinking, but that, to me, is how it should be.

Let's be clear - the big bookmakers and racecourse groups are profit-maximising companies, driven only by commercial considerations. They are not - let me repeat - they are not going to feel sorry for us and relent. They are just going to want to take more each year.

Patrick Gilligan, trainer Newmarket
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 4, 2007
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