Sean Murray receives 2019 Toby Balding Award

The National Trainers Federation (NTF) is delighted to announce that Sean Murray is the 2019 recipient of the Toby Balding Award.

A presentation was made at the Lycetts Team Champion Award presentation on Thursday 28th February at the Institute of Directors in London.

The annual award, worth £4000, offers an exciting opportunity for ambitious employees in British racing yards to widen their knowledge and train to acquire new skills.


The NTF launched the award for racing staff in memory of the late Toby Balding, who as a trainer was dedicated to the support and development of young people in the horse racing industry. It is funded by the National Trainers Federation Charitable Trust (NTFCT) from a donation made by the Adrian Swire Charitable Trust in memory of Toby Balding and is presented to a member of racing staff who demonstrates a desire to further his or her career in the horseracing industry and to train for a higher-level qualification or undertake personal development training.

About Sean Murray

Sean Murray has worked his way up the career ladder beginning with weekend work for Peter Beaumont while still at school. He was in the first cohort of staff when David O’Meara started out on his training career, progressing to be head lad. He is now Assistant Trainer to Roger Fell at Arthington Barn.

“I have gained a vast amount of racing and equine knowledge working alongside many talented horse men and women” says Sean. “We have a variety of people from different backgrounds and levels of experience and I have a person-centred approach to their career development. I make sure we look at their individual strengths and qualities and I am positive about what can be done however inexperienced or anxious the person might be.

“I would like to use funds from this bursary to invest in more training such as Introduction to Management for the Racing Industry course and Level One NCFE Award in Mentoring. I am so grateful to the NTF Charitable Trust for enabling me to gain more training to further my career.”

Underlining the career progression that Sean Murray has made on his own initiative, Roger Fell commented,” Sean started his career at the British Racing School and has progressed through the ranks to his current position as Assistant Trainer. Sean is a key member of the training team here at Arthington Barn and has put in the hard yards working as a positive role model, putting in long hours to ensure we achieve the best results. This bursary has come at an important time in Sean’s career as it will allow him to fund his ongoing development, and will help him to achieve his ambition to become a licensed trainer.”

Notes to editors:

The Toby Balding Award offers an exciting opportunity for ambitious employees in British racing yards to widen their knowledge and train to acquire new skills. There is more about the award here.

The National Trainers Federation Charitable Trust aims to provide training for employees within the racing industry so they can develop their knowledge and skills. There is a special focus on training to enable those who meet with an accident or ill health to remain in the industry. Racing Welfare manages the applications on behalf of the NTFCT trustees.

For more information, please contact Rupert Arnold or Shelley Perham at the NTF.




New SNELL skull cap standard

SNELL have developed a new skull cap standard – E2016 – which the BHA intends to add to the list of skull cap standards permitted in the rules.

Manufacture of the E2001 standard ceased in 2018 and this standard will remain on the permitted list for the time being while stocks are held in shops. Because the maximum lifetime of a skull cap is four to five years, the BHA envisages 2023/24 as a probable date to withdraw the E2001 standard from the rules.

If a hat with an E2001 label also has PAS 011 or the other current standard, it will remain acceptable even when SNELL E2001 has gone.

Update from the Thoroughbred Industries Brexit Steering Group

The British Racing and Breeding industries, represented by the Thoroughbred Industries Brexit Steering Group, hope that a Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and European Union can be reached in the coming weeks. Any implementation period following a withdrawal agreement would, for example, see a continuation of the current free movement of thoroughbreds between Britain, Ireland and France until at least December 2020 with work proceeding on longer-term arrangements beyond any such period. However, we are making no assumptions and therefore ruling out no scenarios.

As such, we are increasing our preparations for the event of the UK’s departure from the EU on 29 March without a deal. We will be communicating further and formally with our stakeholders and participants over the next month with practical guidance and advice, and continue our regular contact with UK Government, colleagues elsewhere in the horse sector, and the Irish and French thoroughbred industries, in particular.

We have had productive discussions with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in the last two weeks and are encouraged by the level of ‘no deal’ planning in place.

An online hub to provide guidance to industry participants on what to do as the UK leaves the EU has been set up on the BHA website (, collating industry relevant information which is regularly updated as further advice from government departments becomes available.

Julian Richmond-Watson, Chairman of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA) and of the British Thoroughbred Industries Brexit Steering Group, said:

“With continuing uncertainty around the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, it is only right that the thoroughbred industries prepare for all scenarios, including a No Deal which we hope can be avoided. We have been very encouraged by our engagement with Government around preparations for a No Deal, and endorse its stance that current systems for horse movement into the UK will continue in these circumstances.”

Thoroughbred movement

We would reiterate that the UK Government has made clear that in the event of no deal, thoroughbreds will still be able travel freely into the UK from Ireland and France, as current systems will be replicated. These current systems under the pre-existing Tripartite Agreement work well and have evolved over decades. They facilitate and foster growing international competition and allow for smooth and efficient trade, most importantly prioritising the welfare of our horses and reflecting their high health, high welfare status.

We fully support and lobbied for this position adopted by the UK Government as the pragmatic and right thing to do and to minimise unnecessary disruption.

The UK’s third country status post-Brexit

We have recently had confirmation from the Government that if the UK does leave the EU without a deal then it will be treated as a third country, and in order to be prepared for all possible outcomes, the UK Government has submitted its application for listing as a third country to continue exporting live animals and animal products to the EU after Brexit. The Commission’s recently published Contingency Action Plan states that: “On the basis of the EU veterinary legislation, the Commission will – if justified – swiftly ʻlistʼ the United Kingdom [as a third country], if all applicable conditions are fulfilled, so as to allow the entry of live animals and animal products from the United Kingdom into the European Union”.

We understand that the technical discussions between Defra officials and the European Commission are currently ongoing and are hopeful that they will reach a positive and timely conclusion. Upon the UK achieving such listing the process for thoroughbreds returning or travelling to, for instance, Ireland or France, will become clearer, and the relevant guidance will be provided.


The Government’s priority continues to be to secure a deal which maintains the current, liberalised access arrangements for transporters, and in the meantime is working to ensure the UK is ready for all exit scenarios.

There was a significant concern within the industry that the administrative barriers that the EU could apply for transporters as the UK becomes a third country would add to the challenges with the movement of horses in the event of a no deal. The European Commission however has recently published proposals that would allow UK hauliers to continue carrying goods into the EU until the end of 2019 if there is no deal, without the need for an ECMT permit. The UK Government has welcomed the proposal as a positive step forward for UK hauliers and intends to reciprocate.

Additional requirements for road travel within the EU for UK citizens and registered companies remains likely, whether in the short or medium term, and seeking clarity on the practicalities for companies and individuals transporting thoroughbreds continues to be a priority area for the Steering Group.  We will provide a further update in this area as soon as there is greater clarity.

Stud Book Recognition

As of 1 November 2018, a new EU regulation came into place for horses coming from Non-EU countries. This legislation states that, if a Stud Book or Breed Society from a third country is not listed as being permitted to trade with the EU, horses of that country are not allowed to enter any EU country or to be registered in that country.

Weatherbys has lodged an application with Defra for submission to the EU Commission for the General Stud Book to be recognised by the EU Commission and to be added to its list of breeding bodies. In requesting a listing, we agree to respect the legal right of entry in the General Stud Book of Thoroughbreds from stud books in EU Member States.

European Union citizens working in the British thoroughbred industry
The UK Government has launched a website outlining details of the EU Settlement Scheme for European Union citizens, and their families, to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021 with either settled or pre-settled status. The application process opens in full on 30 March 2019 and further guidance will be provided in advance of that date.

The Steering Group has been making representations, with the support of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), to the ongoing Migration Advisory Committee process to ensure as far as possible that the requirements of our industry of the future UK immigration system are satisfied. This includes a submission to the recently closed consultation on the composition of the Shortage Occupation List to apply for the Racing industry to be returned to the list. If that were to happen, it would mean that those wishing to come to the UK to work in the racing industry could be processed far more quickly.

Notes to Editors:

1. Useful links

UK Government – Settled and pre-settled status for EU citizens and their families

Lycetts Team Champion Award 2019 nomination window open


3rd September 2018


  • The Lycetts Team Champion Award showcases trainers’ yards which promote a team ethos
  • The judging criteria are drawn from The Winning Approach, the bespoke industry standard, supporting retention of racing staff and demonstrating modern management practices by racehorse trainers in Britain
  • Training days to offer guidance on practical management techniques

The National Trainers Federation (NTF) is delighted to be launching the second year of the Lycetts Team Champion Award. The window for nominations opens on Monday 3rd September 2018. The closing date is Monday 3rd December 2018.

Created in 2017 with the first awards presented in February 2018, the Lycetts Team Champion Award celebrates the training yards that have a strong team ethos.

The Lycetts Team Champion mission is to showcase the positive results of developing a team that works well together, spread the message about safe working practices and improve recruitment and retention rates by promoting the most successful ways in which racehorse trainers manage their staff and thereby encourage wider adoption of those practices.

An explanation of the process and the nomination form are available on the NTF website at . These will also be sent to trainers by post this week.

The Lycetts Team Champion Award has two categories – for trainers with 40 horses or more; and for trainers with fewer than 40 horses. The winning yard in each category will receive £4000 to be spent in a way that benefits and enhances the team.

Teams scoring above given points thresholds will achieve recognition through a star-rating system and have the right to use the unique award logo to promote their business. 39 current holders of the star-rating can be viewed on the award website.

The winners will be announced at a special ceremony on Thursday 28th February 2019.

The 2018 award winners were:

  • 40 horses or more: Warren Greatrex, Uplands Stable, Lambourn, Berkshire

Team Greatrex

  • Less than 40 horses: Nick Alexander, Kinneston, Fife


Rupert Arnold, Chief Executive of the NTF, said, “Our members responded enthusiastically to the first Lycetts Team Champion Award. It was great to see how trainers and staff worked together to show the excellent management practices they use to instil a team ethos in the yard.

“By demonstrating the high standards currently operating and the ambition of trainers to modernise the way their businesses work, the award supports staff retention as a key method of addressing skills shortages in racing.”

Tom Dascombe, whose team was shortlisted in 2018, commented, “All the team at Manor House Stables were thrilled to get onto the shortlist in the first Lycetts Team Champion Award. They really enjoyed being involved. It’s great to have a chance to show how the way we work together is good for the business and we will be having another go at winning the award this year.”

The NTF is helping its members meet the award criteria – and adopt the wider Winning Approach – by putting on a series of training days at Newmarket, Cheltenham and Kelso.

The training days, entitled ‘Building a Sustainable Business’, are supported by The Racing Foundation and delivered by Peplow Group’s Peter Burnet, who has run the Management Academy for Racing for the past decade.

Lycetts, a leading insurance broker specialising in the protection of all types of equine businesses, is supporting the award with prize money funding and promotion. Lycetts sees the award as the perfect way of raising awareness of safe working practices that will lead to a significant reduction in the risk of workplace injuries.

Piers Plunket, Divisional Director at Lycetts, said: “Racehorse trainers and their staff make a great contribution to the world of British horseracing and we want to shine a spotlight on all the hard work that is carried out on these yards.


“Our mission is to instil a sense of achievement in the best managed yards, as well as showcase the positive results of developing a team that works well together. In addition, we see the award as the perfect way of raising awareness of safe working practices to help reduce the risk of workplace injuries.”


Notes for Editors

About Lycetts

The Lycetts Group was founded in 1961 and has grown to become one of the UK’s leading independently-operated insurance brokers.

Lycetts specialises in farm and estate insurance and also provides bespoke financial services, commercial and bloodstock insurance advice. It has 17 offices in the UK, with its headquarters based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

All available profits from Lycetts are passed onto the company’s ultimate owner, the charity Allchurches Trust, which in turn invests them back into the community. This structure offers security and business stability for Lycetts while fostering an ethical and long-term approach and a high-level of client trust.

The National Trainers Federation represents the interests of British licensed racehorse trainers. For more information on the National Trainers Federation, please go to

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



More information available about EU citizens’ registration scheme

In the 18th July edition of NTFW and in our latest newsletter, we reported on the arrangements the Government will introduce to register settled EU citizens in this country after Brexit.

The Government has now issued more guidance and resources for employers to support their EU workers. You can access them online and they include a “toolkit”, briefing pack, several leaflets and a poster.

Although the registration scheme isn’t open yet and is being phased in later this year, employees can sign up to get more information on the status of EU citizens in the UK after we leave Europe.

Who are the winners going to be? – Choose your Lycetts Team Champion

There are only a few days to go now before the first Lycetts Team Champion Award winners are announced on Thursday 22nd February at the Institute of Directors, the venue for the NTF’s Annual General Meeting.

Take a look at our film below to get an insight into why the eight shortlisted yards reached the final stage. The winner in each category wins £4000, courtesy of sponsors Lycetts, to be spent on items of their choice to support the team.


Shortlisted finalists announced for Lycetts Team Champion Award

The National Trainers Federation (NTF) is delighted to announce the two shortlists for the inaugural Lycetts Team Champion Award.

Lycetts Team Champion Award celebrates the racehorse training yards that have developed a strong team ethos through the highest standards of staff management and safe working practices. There are more details on the NTF website at this link:

The award has two categories – one for yards with 40 or more horses; and one for yards with fewer than 40 horses. The shortlists (in alphabetical order) are:

40+ horses Fewer than 40 horses
Tom Dascombe Nick Alexander
Warren Greatrex Martin Keighley
Mark Johnston Seamus Mullins
Dan Skelton Suzy Smith

Under the grading system, all the shortlisted yards are awarded 3-star status. Competition was extremely strong and the standard of nominations very high resulting in other yards also achieving a 1, 2 or 3-star rating.

The judges would like to emphasise how impressed they were with the very high standard of nominations and the remarkable progress taking place in management practices in racing yards.

Laura Whyte, former Director of HR at John Lewis, commented “I thoroughly enjoyed assessing the entries and was impressed at the breadth of initiatives going into recruitment and development at many yards – especially the care taken of our youngest members of staff.  The various recognition schemes such as “employee of the month” and similar show how well some trainers work on celebrating individuals who make a big difference to the team effort. I’m looking forward to visiting the short listed yards to see and learn more about their ways of working.”

Equally complimentary was another judge, Kevin Parsons, Union Learn Project Manager for National Association of Stable Staff, who said ““It has been an absolute pleasure reading through the nomination forms and some fantastic work and practices are going on out there in many yards across the country.”

Dana Mellor added her thoughts on the nominations: “Good business practice is essential in racing yards if trainers want to recruit and retain good staff and the nominations for the award reflect high standards throughout Britain and across the jump/flat divide. We now have an opportunity to harvest this by recognising trainers who are putting people as well as horses first. By rewarding them as role models, good practice can be rolled out to all yards and become part of the culture of racing. It’s a huge step forward.”

n the next phase of the award, the judges will visit the shortlisted yards during January 2018 to meet the team members and get first-hand experience of the practices that have been described in the first stage nominations. The winners will be announced at the NTF Annual General Meeting on 22nd February 2018.

Speaking on behalf of the NTF, Chief Executive Rupert Arnold said, “We would like to thank all the yards who collaborated so well to describe in detail the way they work as a team and are engaged and developed as individuals. The shortlists are a product of the scoring system and while competition for the eight places was intense, yards that have not made the shortlists should be proud of what they are doing in their workplace and will have a star rating to prove their yard is a great place to work.”



The statistics for the number of horses in each yard are provided by Weatherbys and based on a rolling monthly average from 1st January to 30th November 2017.

The judges are Yogi Breisner, Dana Mellor, Kevin Parsons, Olly Stevens and Laura Whyte. Before judging began, they each declared conflicts of interest and are not judging any yards with which they have a commercial, employment or personal interest.

The Lycetts Group has grown to become one of the UK’s leading independently-operated insurance brokers with 15 offices in the UK. Lycetts specialises in farm and estate insurance and also provides bespoke financial services, commercial and bloodstock insurance advice.

The Racing Foundation has contributed to the funding of the Team Champion Award and The Winning Approach, a bespoke industry standard for the management of staff in British racing yards. The Winning Approach was developed by the NTF with assistance from Sport and Beyond consultancy.