Cheltenham Festival-winning trainers Henrietta Knight, Charles Egerton and Mick Channon launched a fierce attack on the BHA and its chief executive Nick Rust in a letter to the Racing Post this week. Here is the letter in full . . .
Nick Rust’s patronising interview on Luck on Sunday confirms the urgency for the horsemen to start exercising their influence in the selection process of the new BHA chairman to avoid yet another disastrous period.
The incumbent CEO is clearly not qualified to be involved in this process, as he demonstrated by his absurd analogy on Sunday comparing racing with blood sports.
His inability to grasp the relevant welfare issues facing racing, precipitated by the greed of the racecourses, by presiding over an expansion of an underfunded fixture list with a horse population which is staffed inadequately, moving fixtures out of the core season to summer jumping, the plethora of mares-only races that will weaken the breed and distort pedigrees, racecourses over-racing and racing on false watered ground and licensing trainers with unsustainable business’ are some of the welfare issues of the time that need addressing.
It is also rather surprising that after a series of highly questionable appointments, we are still hiring people from the Antipodes, a region where they have successfully placated the 'angry brigade' and regulated jumping to near-on non-existence. Have we not got the necessary expertise nearer to home who have experience of National Hunt racing?
Jockey Club Racecourses is not blameless, significantly changing the nature of the track at Haydock – historically a National-horse trial course – and closing Nottingham, both of which were bizarre decisions if you want to produce horses to be properly equipped for the amphitheatres of Cheltenham and Aintree.
For them and the BHA to allow air-time for gimmicks like City Racing is an example of where commercial greed over-rules the head and contradicts all they are trying to achieve.
The BHA now appears to have lost the confidence of Parliament as a governing body and the people they are regulating.
Due to the lack of leadership over the last two decades, the culture within the BHA and the lack of knowledge of the people they have chosen to employ, the BHA have become a liability and detrimental to the future survival of our industry.
This was apparent last week, but more worrying is the tampering that is going on behind the scenes by the endless large committees that suffocate accountability, and are influenced and fuelled by the greed culture.
If we do not implement what is best for the long-term interest of the horse and not be swayed by the best commercial argument at the time, racing deserves everything it has coming to it.
Before this next chairman is selected there needs to be more transparency. The process has not been a success to date and the horsemen need to be confident that the incumbent has a plan, has a very big broom and is not going to be unduly influenced by the racecourses.
Henrietta Knight, Charles Egerton and Mick Channon