NTF responds to new rules on non-runners


16 August 2017


Since the consultation began last autumn, the National Trainers Federation (NTF) has had extensive discussions with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) about its proposals to regulate on non-runners. While agreeing it is desirable to reduce the numbers of non-runners and appreciating the effect of non-runners on betting, we have stressed to the BHA that the factors that lead to non-runners are often beyond trainers’ control. The BHA refers to the protection of international revenues generated by 48-hour declarations but everyone agreed at the time they were introduced that 48-hour declarations would inevitably increase the rate of non-runners and data backs this up.

The NTF’s policy is that rules on non-runners should be proportionate and targeted. In the past we have supported an approach aimed at trainers with the highest non-runner rates. We believe this has played a part in causing a decline in the long term trend in non-runner rates since 2012 shown in the BHA’s published figures. Though the graph moved up in 2016, the figures are down again in 2017.

The outcome of our discussions with the BHA is a package aligned with our policy.  There are sound reasons for a two-day stand down following withdrawal with a vet’s certificate. Publishing trainers’ non-runner rates and the sanction for a high rate will have an impact on trainers’ decisions across all reasons for declaring a non-runner.

We will liaise with the ROA and PJA about late declaration of non-runners. The deadline of 9.00am, as well as creating an unwelcome third declaration deadline each morning,  presents logistical difficulties for trainers if going reports have not been updated and owners cannot be contacted within this timescale.

Rupert Arnold said, “Trainers want to have runners. They only withdraw horses if it is in the horse’s and the owner’s best interest. We support the 2-day stand down following a vet certificate and publishing each trainer’s percentage will encourage trainers to think hard about declaring non-runners. This and the other rule changes should have the desired effect of reducing the number of non-runners without risking horse welfare or unreasonably restricting trainers from acting in the owners’ interests.“

While going descriptions are still subjective, there being no objective measure of the state of the ground that carries universal confidence, it has been impossible to agree rules that restrict withdrawal related to going. Weather is volatile and unpredictable in this country and we understand the Horseracing Bettors Forum judges that a large number of going descriptions are inaccurate based on race times. We acknowledge Clerks of the Course have an unenviable job but before any restrictions are placed on trainers withdrawing for going related reasons, accountability for going reports and the timing of their publication is essential.


The National Trainers Federation represents the interests of British licensed racehorse trainers.

For more information, please contact Rupert Arnold, NTF Chief Executive, on 01488 71794 or 07899 797010. E-mail: r.arnold@racehorsetrainers.org



New Racing Admin system training events

Further to an email earlier this month from the BHA brandandlogotypealternative_rgbabout the introduction of the new Racing Admin system for owners on 30th August and the removal of the old racing admin site at the end of the year, a programme of events has been compiled to ensure trainers and their staff are confident using the new system.

While the events are staged across the country, in the instance that you are unable to attend any of the sessions, or you require further support, please do not hesitate to get in contact via racingadmin@britishhorseracing.com. In addition to arranging separate visits, online demonstrations can also be staged to ensure that all trainers have the chance to raise any queries before the original system is replaced.

Online Demo

On Tuesday 22nd August a 30 minute online demonstration will be staged for trainers and racing secretaries at 12:15pm to help explain the new ownership functions on the Racing Admin system. It will demonstrate how to make the most out of the new features and provide an opportunity to ask questions. To register for the demo simply click this link and follow the on screen instructions.

Following its conclusion, a video of the demo will be uploaded to the Racing Admin Help & Support site accessible here.


Throughout September and October the BHA and Weatherbys will be staging a series of training workshops for trainers and their staff across the country. The sessions, which will all start at 12:30pm and last just over an hour, will take place at:

11th September – British Racing School, Newmarket

19th September – Middleham Key Centre

9th October – The Queen’s Arms, Lambourn

The workshops will help guide you through the switch to the new site and if you are interested in attending please email racingadmin@britishhorseracing.com to reserve your place.

Racecourse visits

In addition to these workshops, there will also be the opportunity for owners and trainers to ask questions about the new Racing Admin system and the ownership reforms at drop in sessions hosted on racedays across the country at:

18th September – Carlisle

19th September – Newcastle

26th September – Warwick

12th October – Exeter

Members of BHA and Weatherbys staff will be present throughout each meeting and there is no need to reserve a place. Similar sessions will also be hosted throughout October at Tattersalls during the sales with members of the Weatherbys Ownership Team on hand to answer any questions.

It is also important for trainers to note that, to ensure the smooth introduction of the new owners’ system, it will be necessary to stop taking new ownership registrations at 3pm Friday 25th August. Registrations will re-open in the new Racing Admin system on the morning of Wednesday 30th. In the instance you have any concerns please do not hesitate to contact the Weatherbys Ownership Desk on 01933 304808 or email ownersupport@weatherbys.co.uk.

Last Conditional Jockeys Licence Course of 2017

The Conditional Jockey’s Licence Course coming up next month (4-15 September) at the BRS is the last of 2017 so the BHA wants to make sure trainers are aware that this is their last option for new Conditionals looking to attend the course and be licensed this year. There are still places available at the moment.

  • All new Conditionals (or those currently holding Category ‘A’ Amateur Permits who wish to become Conditional) are required to attend the full 2-week Course (plus Pre-Assessment beforehand);
  • Those holding Category ‘B’ Amateur Permits who wish to “advance” to Conditional status are required to attend the second week of this Licence Course (from 11th to 15th September).
  • Any questions should be directed to Licensing Team at the BHA on 0207 152 0145.

Advice to prevent contamination in stables

Today’s news headlines relating Dean Ivory’s unfortunate experience is a potent reminder of the necessity for stringent policies in your yard to manage not just equine but also human medication. At the NTF we know from this summer’s regional meetings how vulnerable trainers feel as a result of the strict liability rules.

In the May/June 2017 printed newsletter, we published a reminder of the advice available from the NTF about medication control and preventing contamination through various sources including feedstuffs and bedding. There is an information sheet entitled “Guidance on preventing contamination by prohibited substances” on our website under Information/Veterinary. It is divided into three main areas: contaminated feedstuffs including the BETA NOPS Code; cross contamination; and medication management. One extract reads:

“Advise staff not to urinate in stables at the yard or raceday stables – highlight the very real risk of cross contamination this poses.”

In the same area of our website you can also find a template poster about avoding the risks of contamination. We are working on the production of a laminated version of this to send to all our members in the near future.

If you would like more advice about the types of measures you can take to show you have taken all reasonable measures to prevent contamination, please speak to Dawn Bacchus at the NTF office.

Novice chase recommendations welcomed

Four current or recent members of the NTF’s National Hunt Committee were part of a working group that has made recommendations announced today on the Novice Chase system.

A detailed data analysis was carried out, supported by a questionnaire for Jump trainers and the exploration of a variety of proposals. Thanks to all trainers who responded to the questions. It is essential for the future health of the sport that the race programme provides incentives for trainers and owners to send horses of all abilities Chasing.

The recommendations, which were approved by the sport’s cross-industry Racing Group and the BHA Board and will be implemented from 1 October 2017, are as follows:

  • No handicap rating increase in weight-for-age Novices’ Chases of Class 2 and below other than for the winner. This will only apply to horses that have already run four times over obstacles (either hurdles or fences.)

    The working party felt that perception can be as important as reality and to encourage more horses to run in weight-for-age Novices’ Chases, trainers’ preconceptions of the handicappers’ reaction needs to be addressed. This has been shown to be effective in flat conditions races.

  • An increase in the number of weight-for-age Novices’ Chases, to be balanced by a decrease in number of Novices’ handicap Chases. A maximum increase of 25% on the current programme of 200 weight-for-age Chases was proposed
  • Programming of six ‘confined’ races during the autumn for horses which have not won more than one race over hurdles. This proposal is aimed at providing a pathway for the later-maturing type destined for Chasing.

Analysis of the horse population revealed a pool of 948 horses went chasing who       would have fulfilled these criteria in 2016/17

  • Rating band for the Listed Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival to be increased to 0-145 (from 0-140).

    This race has become a key seasonal target for many Novice Chasers, resulting in the cut off for elimination this year being 137. Increasing the banding to 0-145 was considered a more sensible cut off for the handicap and key to the success of the new system, with horses rated 146 and above capable of holding their own in Graded company.

  • Valuable Novices’ Handicap Chase Series Final to be programmed in the spring. Racecourses to be given the opportunity to apply to stage the £100,000 Final, which will be supported by the BHA Development Fund. Horses must run in at least two weight-for-age Novices’ or Beginners’ Chase during the season in order to enter the Final.

Trainers involved directly on the working group were Nick Alexander, Philip Hobbs, Emma Lavelle and Dan Skelton.

Staff accompanying horses to sales

With the sales season approaching, we have had enquiries from trainers about paying expenses to staff when they accompany horses to the sales.

Even where the sales are at racecourses, the subsidised raceday canteens are not likely to be open and staff may be paying full rates for meals and drinks.  Trainers should ensure that staff are reimbursed for out of pocket expenses at sales; the tax free element of the daily allowances authorised by HMRC only applies to “going racing” and so the best practice for sales days would be to pay expenses against receipts given to you by staff. Alternatively you could advance staff an allowance and ask them to provide receipts for any money spent and the balance returned.

NTF responds to BHA announcement on new stewarding model

Commenting on today’s British Horseracing Authority announcement of plans for a new model for stewarding in British racing, Rupert Arnold, NTF Chief Executive, said

“To date the NTF has not been asked to provide stakeholder input so we look forward to the consultation in which we will be able to examine in more detail the BHA’s proposals and justification for a different stewarding model. Our initial reaction is that replacing the volunteer stewards with salaried stewards will mean the loss of a valuable source of impartial opinion in stewards’ decisions. We believe the volunteer stewards’ more independent perspective leads to a balanced outcome in enquiries.”