Regional training: biomechanics, handicapping, simulator and work rider training in October

Trainers in the north have been keen to take advantage of the regional training put on by the Northern Racing College in association with leading experts in their field. These training days are continuing through October and November; they will be of interest to everyone involved in the training of racehorses. Contact Sam Trainor to book a place, mob 07711782272, email

  • Wednesday 12 October: Aspects of Biomechanics. 6.45 to 9pm, Middleham Key Centre
  • Thursday 13 October: Phil Smith, Head of Handicapping, 7pm, Jack Berry House, Malton

Simulator training:

  • Wednesday 19 October: Stockton Hall Farm, Malpas
  • Thursday 20 October: Manor House Farm, Malpas
  • Monday 24 October: Basford Grange, Leek
  • Wednesday 26 October: Bell House, Beyton, Presteigne
  • Thursday 27 October: Butterton Racing Stables, Newcastle under Lyme

Work rider training

  • Tuesday 15 November: With Yogi Breisner in Malton


Reminder – Travel Award for Assistant Trainers

Don’t forget to encourage your assistant trainer, or another you know that would benefit, to apply for the Alex Scott Assistant Trainer Travel Scholarship, which closes at the end of this month.

£3000 is up for grabs in this annual award, which gives assistants the chance to gain experience and knowledge from working abroad. To find out more about the scholarship and how to apply, go to the dedicated Alex Scott page on the NTF website.

Your role in shaping staff recruitment and retention strategy

The NTF is central to the work being done to address the shortage of skilled stable staff. We are working with the BHA and training providers on projects aimed at achieving the required numbers for the long term. We are supported in this by a £1m investment by the Racing Foundation and understandably, its trustees want to be in a position to measure the success or otherwise of the projects.

To do this, a baseline survey is about to be launched. Data from this survey will be used for comparisons with data collected in the future to show how much the projects have improved the staffing situation for you, the employers. Trainers and stable staff will be invited to participate in a survey that will run throughout September and October. The survey will take no more than 10 minutes and will be conducted over the phone with trainers, and by post with stable staff.

Independent research organisation Public Perspectives Ltd has been commissioned by the Racing Foundation to carry out the survey. They need a good response rate to show how industry stakeholders are working together to pro-actively address recruitment, skills and retention issues. We would be very grateful if you would set aside the time to speak to Public Perspectives when their people call you. Your help with this will protect the substantial funding that the Racing Foundation has pledged and could build upon in the future to ensure you have enough skilled staff to ride and care for your horses.

Revised pay rates take effect from 1st October

An updated version of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) is now available setting out the revised pay rates agreed between the NTF and NASS taking effect from 1st October. We will send a copy of the new MoA to all our members with the September October Newsletter. In the meantime, you can download a copy from the NTF website under Information/Employment here.

Newmarket trainers should note clause 6.4 which is a new clause included to reflect the different payment arrangements used by some Newmarket trainers when their employees are taking runners to Newmarket racecourses. It also helps to meet the HMRC requirements that the tax free allowances are only paid when expenses are genuinely incurred.  To this end, the agreement acknowledges that Newmarket trainers sending staff with horses to Newmarket races may pay a set racing payment but that this payment must be at least as good as the hourly rate under the MoA and it further provides that the £10 tax free allowance may not apply and therefore does not have to be paid. This may also apply to Epsom staff taking horses racing to Epsom but is unlikely to apply outside of these two areas.

Avoiding unrecoverable pension contributions to the Friends Life Scheme

Large, medium and small scale trainers are now having to comply with the legal requirement to provide an Auto Enrolment pension scheme for their employees.

Once you have begun making payments to your new scheme, the requirement to contribute to the NTF Friends Life (“industry”) scheme falls away.  Page 5 of the NTF’s Auto Enrolment Pensions Guide explains how to ensure you do not pay twice – once to your auto enrolment scheme and also to the Friends Life scheme.

On the Stable Employee Register trainers should flag their employees as having “Other Arrangements” in order for no further contributions to be deducted from their Weatherbys account for the Friends Life scheme. There is no facility to do this flag on the online admin system and trainers will need to either ring or email Weatherbys.  At the present time the contact at Weatherbys is Megan Sutton ( The NTF will not be able to keep track of contributions wrongly made to the Friends Life scheme after a trainer has auto enrolled.   You should check any quarterly pension information received from Weatherbys to ensure that no contributions are being collected. If they are, contact Weatherbys immediately since once any contributions have been forwarded to Friends Life for processing they cannot be recovered.

You must follow the advice above to ensure you do not make unrecoverable payments.

Equine Anti-Doping requirements for imported horses

The Equine Anti-Doping (EAD) rules, which came into effect in March 2015, took British racing to new standard on the international stage; it is not surprising that those affected will take some time to get used to the protocols. From a different perspective, the requirements to notify the “whereabouts” are not too far removed from the tracability requirements for some farm livestock.

Depending on the circumstances, trainers will be Responsible Persons under the terms of the rules and should therefore be familiar with following certain procedures. When any horse arrives in your yard for the first time, as well as the usual checks you do (e.g. markings, vaccinations) you should ask the following questions:

  1. Has the horse been imported from a non-exempt country, or has it spent less than 12 months in an exempt* country?
  2. If yes to point 1, has the horse had a permanent import test?
  3. If yes to point 1, did the horse sell through a public auction in a non-exempt country? For example, horses sold at Keeneland in USA may have had ‘BHA Badged’ permanent import test collected at point of sale. Subject to terms (please check Keeneland Conditions of Sale) this counts as its import test for Britain and therefore it doesn’t require testing on arrival in Britain.
  4. Has the export certificate been lodged with the General Stud Book (note this applies to all imported horses, not just those from non-exempt countries)?
  5. If unsure if a horse has been/requires testing contact, providing as much detail as you are aware of.

It is important to follow these procedures because if you don’t, the horse will be prevented from running and it may result in a “filing failure” or “missed test”, which has further consequences under the rules.

*Exempt countries: these are currently France, Ireland, Germany, Hong Kong, Sweden & Norway.

Guides to the EAD Rules can be found in the Veterinary information section on the NTF website and the Resource Centre on the BHA website.

Nominate best racecourses for maintaining the track

The Pitchcare Groundstaff Awards recognise the work done by racecourses’ Groundstaff teams to prepare and maintain the racing surface and other important elements of the racecourse infrastructure.

The awards are judged in October and the RCA is inviting trainers to nominate racecourse Groundstaff for meritorious achievements. You can print off a form by clicking on the link here


or just email us your nominated racecourses.

Please make your decisions according to the criteria on the form and return it to George Noad at the NTF office by fax to 01488 73005 or email to