Statement on the dismissal of BHA appeal in Philip Hobbs case



23 November 2017 – For immediate release

National Trainers Federation statement on the dismissal of BHA appeal in Philip Hobbs case

 The National Trainers Federation (NTF) is very pleased with the Appeal Board’s decision in this landmark case. It’s effect is to confirm that the absence of a known source of a prohibited substance in a horse’s sample is not a bar to a Disciplinary Panel absolving a trainer of a personal penalty under the strict liability rules as long as the particular facts of the case demonstrate that the trainer has met the threshold required by the rules.

We note that in response to this decision, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will seek a rule change. We would strongly discourage them from this. Each case will still turn on the facts. Far from obstructing its ability to regulate the sport, the BHA should recognise that this ruling gives trainers an incentive to ensure they apply the very best management practices to prevent their horses from being administered with or contaminated by a prohibited substance whether in their home stables or at a racecourse. There is no such incentive if the trainer is penalised whatever the circumstances. It should not be forgotten that the result does not change the inevitable disqualification of the horse with serious consequences for the connections including the trainer. This in itself is sufficient deterrent.

We want to be clear that the NTF fully supports British racing’s rules on equine anti-doping and their objective to ensure that everyone competes on level terms on British racecourses. Our interest in the appeal was to ensure fair treatment of trainers under those rules.

Finally, we hope this result serves as a warning to the BHA to use its appeal powers in future with extreme caution.

Throughout the appeal process Philip Hobbs was provided with advice and legal representation for the hearing through the NTF’s Legal Assistance Scheme.


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:

For more information on the National Trainers Federation, please go to


Statement on the new requirement to declare wind surgery



22 November 2017

National Trainers Federation statement on the new requirement to declare wind surgery

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) sent an email to trainers yesterday informing them that they would have to notify the BHA of certain types of wind surgery carried out on any previously raced horse in their care before that horse’s next run after surgery.

The National Trainers Federation (NTF) is concerned about the new rule on several fronts. First, any rule change should have been prefaced by more research. The BHA has made it clear that its motive for implementing this rule is to provide information for bettors that might influence their betting behaviour. The NTF understands the desire to fulfil the needs of racing’s customers but in this data driven world, reliable data is essential.

In the consultation we proposed that the BHA’s first step should be to collect data from trainers about wind surgeries carried out over a two year period. That data would then be analysed to assess the extent to which different wind surgeries have a significant effect on the performance of a large enough cohort of horses to have some confidence in the value of information provided to bettors. The BHA has opted to ignore the opportunity for an evidence-based approach on this issue. We believe that is poor regulation.

The NTF’s other concerns include the impossibility of effectively policing the rule, especially in relation to horses trained outside Britain. Some types of surgery cannot be detected post-operatively. We urged the BHA to seek alignment from Ireland and France before introducing the rule. The BHA chose to make the running but we fear this will leave British racing connections at a disadvantage and undermine the objective of the rule.


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:

For more information on the National Trainers Federation, please go to


EHV vaccine to become mandatory to race in France

The BHA has been told by France Galop that from January 2018, it will make vaccination against Equine Herpes Virus mandatory under their rules of racing. We understand that the BHA and Animal Health Trust do not favour the French policy. However, a letter written by France Galop and found on the internet by a British trainer states, “The EHV vaccination was already mandatory in France for the breeding stock…and our stakeholders have expressed the will to have all the racehorses vaccinated. Consequently we have decided to extend the benefit of this vaccination to the training and racing areas.”

The French policy appears to disregard the shortage of vaccine in Europe and the problems encountered by trainers who have used imported vaccine. Although the letter indicates that the rule has not yet been published, it would be wise to plan ahead now if you intend to have runners in France after 1st January 2018.


Microchip number must be checked against passport

With effect from 1st January 2018, the rules will require trainers to have checked the microchip number for all horses in their care against the number in the horse’s passport. This is in addition to the existing requirement to check that the horse’s markings match those in the passport. Any discrepancy in either must be notified to Weatherbys.

Your vet will have a microchip scanner so you can ask him/her to check the number during a routine visit. Alternatively, some trainers may find it useful to purchase their own scanner; they cost around £50. Halo is a brand being used and suppliers can be found online.

Changes in the pipeline for Hunter Chase eligibility

The BHA Racing Group has agreed changes to the eligibility for Hunter Chases. This has followed a long debate over several meetings with the NTF not supporting the fourth of these recommendations:

  1. Licensed Trainers can continue to run horses in Hunter Chases
  2. Cessation of the November to December blackout period for horses running in the following year’s Hunter Chases
  3. No change to the Hunter Chase eligibility based on previous race performance
  4. Horses that run under the care of a licensed trainer in a Hunter Chase may run only in a Hunter Chase for the remainder of the Hunter Chase season (i.e. up to the Stratford HC meeting.)

The NTF’s concern was that the number of horses being sent Hunter Chasing from licensed yards may decrease significantly as a result of this change. The BHA’s opinion was that that if the other three recommendations were implemented, particularly the cessation of the November and December blackout period, then the whole approach to Hunter Chasing eligibility would be relaxed to a point where a large proportion of horses would be able to dip in and out of Hunter Chasing, something that would be undesirable.

The Racing Group will review the impact of the changes, including the number of horses being sent Hunter Chasing from licensed yards, at the end of the first season.

Forms to be completed for hind shoeing dispensation

Over the past six months the BHA’s Racecourse Stewarding Co-Ordinator has received a lot of calls from trainers at extremely short notice wishing to run their horse without hind shoes. On occasions horses have been brought to the racecourse partially shod and the trainer has no knowledge of the dispensation process required.

We are therefore reminding you about the procedure. The form provided at this link on the new BHA website (Regulation/Health and Welfare/Notices and forms), along with veterinary evidence, must be submitted by 12pm two working days before the declarations deadline. All the requisite information must be emailed to for review by the veterinary department.

Riding instructions for apprentice and conditional jockeys

When using an apprentice or conditional jockey, your riding instructions must cover their use of the whip.  In a recent appeal, the BHA Disciplinary Panel found that this requirement is mandatory.  The exact detail of what the trainer must say to the rider about their use of the whip will vary according to the circumstances.

There will be occasions when a trainer commits a technical breach of the Rules by making no mention of the whip to an apprentice or conditional jockey but no penalty ensues. However, as a trainer, you should be aware that if an apprentice or conditional is called into an enquiry about their use of the whip, the stewards will ask about the instructions given by the trainer about using the whip. Failure to instruct apprentices and conditionals on use of the whip leaves you open to being found in breach of rule (C) 45.2 and fined £650.

A copy of the presentation on the running and riding rules given by Roderick Moore at seminars organised by the NTF last year can be found in the “On the Racecourse” section of our website.