Friday 5 August 2011

Ann Duffield Blog Update: Runners, winners and the big losers- stable staff

A busy week with runners, sales, gloomy news on the worlds economy, poor prize money and rising costs, all hindering racing’s ability to improve its lot and incredibly, an association supposed to represent its members (stable staff) doing all it possibly can to ensure their jobs are not just “on the line” but firmly on the dole. Our runners yesterday mostly ran well. Flurry of Hands made all to win the nursery at Newcastle, an important victory for the daughter of Acclamation and the half sister to French group winner “Epic Love”. Heidi’s Delight, unable to get competitive on her debut at Ripon was kept handy in a warm looking maiden race in which she got a bit tired but, only after showing a good turn of foot. This strongly made daughter of Red Clubs will improve. Body language was disappointing while Morning Air pulled up lame thanks to one of her Jimmy choo’s moving on her foot, sending a nail through the wall of her hoof. Janets Pearl was fourth at Yarmouth before lining up again today in the seller, just beaten on the line in to second place, she ran a blinder but was claimed to race for another yard. Sorry to see her leave us, and sure she will win again but, the prospect of buying a new yearling to replace her at the sales next month is more than appealing. After all, her replacement could be “something special”.

While busy saddling runners at Newcastle I was aghast to see propaganda leaflets in every corner and on every table. And, even more surprised to see that they have been produced by NASS (National Association of Stable Staff), the same body who recently declared that they had no intention whatsoever of instigating a public campaign to drum up public support of their ideas for a 60% wage increase for stable staff by 2013, in fact they had specifically agreed not to. It is, at best an attempt to bring racing to its knees completely, and at worst it is an indication of an unreasonable and unworkable blueprint, dreamt up by an out of touch union leader who clearly does not have his own members best interests at heart. The reaction of the few people, including stable staff from other yards, I have talked to about their proposals, has ranged from shock, dismay and laughter but not one has expressed the opinion that it might even be remotely affordable. When trainers have been unable to increase training fees despite rising costs for the past three years while at the same time prize money is dwindling along with the number of horses in training, not to mention the state of the country as a whole, it is perhaps the most ridiculous piece of misrepresentation of members ever witnessed. It is patently unfair on the stable staff they are supposed to represent.