Prize Money Boycott Set To Wipe Out Three Race Meetings Next Week

Prize Money Boycott To Wipe Out Three Race Meetings Next Week

A scheduled boycott of five meetings across the forthcoming week is set to be staged by multiple owners and trainers, as the debate over Arena Racing Company's prize-money input took a new turn on Wednesday.

Three-time Classic winning trainer Ralph Beckett has been in touch with more than five-hundred counterparts, requesting them to not enter any horses for the meetings at Fontwell and Lingfield on Wednesday, Southwell on the Thursday and at Lingfield and Newcastle on the Friday.

This planned strike comes just a few days after Lingfield's Winter Derby card was depleted down to just five races - with one race completed as a walkover and the other cancelled outright, both in response to Arc's reduction in prize money in lower-classed races.

Beckett first commented on the decision made by Arena Racing Company back before the turn of the year, where he described it as 'disgraceful'.

Arc has restricted its allocation due to fears its media rights income will be hit by the betting shops closures in the coming months, as a result of the government's decision to cut stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

Their total commitment to total prize money will be down to almost £15 million in 2019; a decrease of 16% from this year, with these changes expected to come into fruition on February 11th, affecting over 3,000 races in the sport.

Beckett, soon to become the president of the National Trainers Federation, emailed trainers on Wednesday.

It read: "All of you will know that two races were boycotted by owners and trainers last Saturday at Lingfield, in a protest over prize-money.

"There is a proposal to do the same by not entering for all races at Arc racecourses on 6th, 7th and 8th March. Entries for 6th March close at noon tomorrow, 28th February, hence this email. Trainers are already committed to this, if you were unaware, you are now."

The email that Beckett sent out, concluded with the line: "If you are unhappy with Arc's contributions to prize-money, then this is your opportunity to vote with your feet."

In response, Arc said the action would only damage the sport far beyond the racecourses that are involved, with an estimated loss of £300,000 looming on the horizon.

An Arc spokesman said: "We had hoped that with the guidance of the British Horseracing Authority, a resolution could be reached as early as Friday.

"We have fully engaged in the talks and will continue to do so, as we would very much like to see a resolution as soon as possible.

"It's important that all the owners and trainers out there know there is £4.5 million waiting to be allocated to Class 4, 5 and 6 Flat and 3, 4 and 5 jump races at Arc tracks.

"However, a coordinated boycott of races or fixtures does damage far beyond the racecourse, and will only serve to punish a large number of owners, trainers, jockeys and racing staff along with bookmakers, customers, sponsors, punters and broadcasters.  

"Racecourses require flexibility to invest in their race programme as appropriate, and the talks that are ongoing with horsemen, racecourses and BHA will allow that, hence our desire that agreement is reached without delay," he finished.