Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards launched

Nominations are officially opened on Monday 2 September 2019, for the 2020 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards.

The awards, now in their 16th year, recognise and reward the outstanding skills, commitment and contribution of over 10,000 stud and stable staff in England, Scotland and Wales.

Sponsored by Godolphin and run by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in association with the Racing Post and Racing TV, the awards provide total prize money of £128,000 with up to £40,000 available to a single yard or stud.

Nominations will close on Tuesday 12 November and can be made by anyone on behalf of anyone working in a yard or stud online at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards website, studandstablestaffawards.co.uk

Video submissions will again be accepted in advance of the 2020 awards, ensuring that the nominations procedure is as fair as possible for all those involved, irrespective of their level of written communication and language skills. The categories are Leadership Award, Dedication Award, Rider/Groom Award, Stud Staff, Rory MacDonald Community Award and David Nicholson Newcomer Award (n.b. the David Nicholson Newcomer Award is for people who entered racing within the last three years).

A new version of the Training Agreement is now available

With the new BHA Rules coming into force, the NTF and ROA have updated the Training Agreement to reflect the new chapters numbers for ownership categories and the rule number where there is reference to leased horses in clause 12 (Authority to Act).

You should use this new training agreement with effect from 1st September 2019 including any training arrangements that are being updated.   There is no immediate necessity to update all existing training agreements provided you are comfortable that the agreement you have has been correctly signed by the owner in their ownership capacity or, where it has been signed by someone else, that they were properly authorised to do so (although it would be good practice to update where possible.)     

We are currently in discussions with the BHA about strengthening the protection for trainers where owners do not pay and with the ROA as to the position of syndicates particularly where a syndicate manager is not acting correctly and there may be a further revision of the Training Agreement as a result of these discussions. 

Using CCTV for security? – data protection compliance

If you are using CCTV in your business for crime prevention purposes then you need to be aware of the implications under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) – importantly you need register and pay a fee to the Information Commissioner’s Office. 

New guidance about these regulations have been uploaded to the Members Area on the NTF website. They are in the Business Section – click on the General Data Protection Regs link on the right had side of the page. You will find:

  • Guidance on the GDPR requirements if operating CCTV
  • A template CCTV policy
  • A template Subject Access Request policy

As usual, if you have any questions, call Dawn Bacchus at the NTF office.

Future Trainers – apply for Scholarship to gain experience abroad

It has become a feature of successful young trainers to travel abroad, working for a trainer in another country to add to the array of knowledge needed and to acquire new insights to further their career. For those without the necessary funds, these opportunities may seem beyond reach. One reason for setting up the Alex Scott Future Trainers Travel Scholarship was to provide that opportunity for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go abroad.

The Scholarship is funded by the Tim Dunlop Memorial Travelling Scholarship (TDMS). TDMS is a charity that was set up by friends of Tim, in his memory, after he was tragically killed in a car accident in France at the age of 21 in 1987. The charity sponsors young people who wish to travel abroad to expand their experience in the thoroughbred industry initially as a prize for the best overall student on the main National Stud course, it now also sponsors a participant on this course as well.

The NTF is responsible for promoting and managing the Alex Scott Scholarship. The winner will receive a grant of £3000 towards their travel costs and living expenses. The NTF will assist the winner to plan their trip and if necessary will facilitate introductions to a trainer abroad.

James Given and Charlie Longsdon are among previous winners; to get an idea of the hugely valuable experiences these and others have gained, reports from recent winners can be viewed on the Awards page on our website. They include last year’s winner Emma Sayer, whose work placement was with Graham Motion in the USA, and Charlie Duckworth, who is now Racing Manager for Chris Waller, trainer of the great Winx in Sydney.

Applications, which must be received by 30th September, can be made by downloading the form from the same page here www.racehorsetrainers.org/industry/alexscottaward.asp

We hope you will bring this opportunity to the attention of your assistant in recognition of the huge part winning the award could play in helping his or her career.

Recommendation for £10m Public Liability cover

The BHA currently mandates that all trainers carry a minimum limit of indemnity for Public Liability of £5million, but as the costs involved in defending any claim rise, together with the increasing size of the awards given after the claim has been settled, the current limit is now considered inadequate. 

Public liability insurance covers your legal liability for accidental injury or property damage claims made against you or your business, so deciding on the appropriate limit of indemnity your business might need depends on the amount of public contact or exposure your work entails.  Horseracing falls into the “high-risk” bracket which is supported by the historically high claims experience as a result of the general public’s exposure to training stables and centres across the country and of course at the racecourse.

Personal injury claims involving horses has to be viewed differently because the Animals Act applies ‘Strict Liability’, so negligence does not need to be proven.  Following an injury, the court will assess the cost of ongoing care, incurred and future medical costs, loss of earnings to the individual, potential rehabilitation costs, legal fees and of course compensation awards.  When the courts reach their verdicts and awards are then discussed, an inflationary system called the Ogden Discount Rate is used to determine costs and compensation where there have been life-changing injuries.

In conclusion, because these claim costs continue to rise, we recommend that all trainers should now buy Public Liability coverage with a limit of £10million, commensurate with the Employers’ Liability limit. This is likely to be a subject for discussion between the NTF and the BHA in relation to future licensing requirements.

Confirmation of current flu vaccination requirements

Due to several enquiries to the NTF office, we thought it worth recapping on the current BHA requirements for Equine Flu vaccinations. It is important to emphasise that this is a temporary arrangement pending discussions between horseracing authorities in Britain, Ireland and France with the aim of harmonising the rules for all three countries.

From 1st May 2019, racehorses must be vaccinated for equine flu within NINE months of racing and/or entry to racecourse stables. This temporary change applies from until 31 December 2019 inclusive. The nine-month vaccination requirement consists of eight months, plus a grace period of one month, which will apply in 2019 only.

If a horse you train has not had a booster in the nine-month period before the day it is due to run, only a booster is required (plus the seven-day waiting period) to make it eligible to race – assuming it is less than 12 months since the horse’s last booster. Horses that are not running should be vaccinated according to the standard 12-month cycle.  

We are planning a one-page guide to the vaccination rules for trainers and their staff to refer to if needed. We have also asked the BHA to amend its online rules to make the requirements clearer and more accessible.

News from our business rates adviser

By Christopher Marriott

  • Communication from the Valuation Office
  • Advice on appeals

Many trainers will have recently received Notices from the Valuation Office Agency requiring information about their leases, and threatening a fine of £100 if they don’t reply in 56 days. The reason for this is that there is to be a rating revaluation on 1st April 2021 and the “Antecedent Valuation Date” for this is 1st April this year. Since rating assessments are based on rental values, this means that the 2021 RVs will reflect the evidence supplied in these Notices which are legal documents. Therefore, trainers should be extremely careful when completing these forms because incorrect information supplied to the VOA could have a prejudicial effect on their rate liability in the future. If anyone is in the slightest doubt about how to fill in the form, they should take advice from a qualified rating surveyor. I would be more than happy to advise if asked; and I do not charge for telephone calls!

Second, the current appeal system of “Check, Challenge and Appeal” is proving to be a nightmare. It is complicated to put in place; it is convoluted; the Valuation Office Agency refuses to divulge the evidence on which they base a rating assessment, so the onus of proof rests entirely with the ratepayer; it is taking an age (I have put in Challenges for several yards over a year ago and I still do not know the name of the Valuation Officer with whom I should be discussing them), and in the meantime the trainer is having to pay rates on an excessive valuation. If any trainer is concerned about the size of their rate bill, I would suggest contacting a qualified rating surveyor – who should have RICS, IRRV or RVA after their name – for advice as soon as possible I would also advise treating cold calling “rating experts” with the very greatest suspicion. If in any doubt, then please get in touch and I will be able to help.

Lastly, a word of warning. Normally a rating appeal is retrospective, either to the start date of that Rating List, or to the date of any change which leads to a new assessment. However, during the last Rating List a measure was brought in with little prior notice limiting the date from which any appeal could take effect: it meant that instead of going back to 2010, rebates would only go back to 1st April 2015. With a new revaluation in the offing there is a concern that this might happen again so, if in doubt, put in an appeal.

Please note my contact details have changed to

Christopher Marriott, Marriott Brown Ltd., Hull Farm, Stratford Road, Chipping Norton, Oxon OX7 5QF. Tel: 01608 698888,  Mobile: 07970 749658, Email: Christopher@marriottbrown.co.uk