Trainers call for better communication after 2020 season scrapped

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THE Channel Islands Horseracing Authority has made clear that it was not consulted prior to the Race Club making an announcement that there would be no racing at Les Landes in 2020.

The Jersey Race Club have cancelled their entire 2020 season Picture: ROB CURRIE

While discussions have taken place between Jonathan Perrée, head of racing of the CIHA and the vice-president of the Jersey Race Club, Deputy Hugh Raymond, regarding the staging of horse racing during the current restrictions, it’s clear the Regulator was taken by surprise by Wednesday evening’s announcement.

Mr Perrée released the following statement: ‘The Jersey Race Club Secretary informed us by email at 21.53 on 13 May 2020 that the [Race Club] Committee had voted in favour of cancelling all the scheduled meetings for the rest of 2020. While this was by way of a statement rather than a request, we have this morning acknowledged this email and formally cancelled all remaining fixtures for the 2020 horse racing season.’

Trainers, too, were taken by surprise, one who didn’t want to be identified, described a ‘worrying lack of openness’ and a ‘very negative experience’. Another, Christa Gilbert, said she would like to be supportive of the Race Club, but found it difficult: ‘It would have been appreciated by me and, importantly, by my owners, if there had been more communication throughout this difficult time. There should be a more collaborative approach by the club, more working together’. Karl Kukk described the stop-go of recent weeks: ‘They weren’t going to open the training track, then they were, then recently gave us a date before saying it wouldn’t be open at all. They should have made decisions way back and kept to them’. He fears losing one UK-based owner and, though final decisions are yet to be made, three of his horses might not return next season. ‘I rent my home and my yard and I have to think about how I’m going to keep my head above water’, he added.

Shortly after the Jersey Race Club’s announcement, JRC president Mark Johnson was asked whether the Race Club would now return members’ annual subscriptions. After the April and May fixtures were cancelled, the club announced it would not be returning up to £200 members had paid. He replied: ‘The committee will be meeting in due course to discuss plans for 2021 and will let members know once a decision is made on fees for 2020 and 2021. The majority feedback from members prior to the decision had been very supportive and positive.’

The president also claims the club did consult with the Regulator before announcing the abandonment of the season, saying: ‘As the CIHA press release states, extensive discussions have been held over the last few weeks. The CIHA had already indicated to the JRC that they would support the cancellation of racing in 2020.’

Asked why owners and trainers were not consulted, the president replied: ‘Trainers were made aware some time ago that racing behind closed doors would not be an option for the JRC. A majority of trainers told the JRC that they were happy to support the Race Club Committee to work in the best interests of the Club. One assumes trainers would have contacted their owners, we have heard nothing to the contrary'.

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