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Racing tariffs - here one day, gone the next

The Horsemen's Group in British racing put their head above the parapet last week and made a stand - encouraging trainers to boycott any races where prizemoney did not meet the recommended amount. Big name stables such as Godolphin and Richard Hannon backed them, announcing they were prepared to support the policy, even going as far as boycotting events/tracks where they were traditionally successful. By Friday, there was 'no chance' of the Horsemen's Group weakening its stance and compromising on tariff values... but by Monday, their backbone had disappeared.

Obviously there are two sides to the argument here - it did seem a little bizarre that tariff rates were going to affect major races, surely the prestige of those races makes up for falling a few grand short of a number generated on some spreadsheet. After all, if you want to increase prizemoney at the bottom of the industry, where the majority of horses, owners, trainers and staff operate, a thin slice off the top is for the greater good. But at the same time, remember there is too much poor class racing - lower foal rates have finally arrived due to the economy being in a mess, dropping a few cards at the very bottom rung of racing wouldn't hurt either. Irish prizemoney is quite healthy because they have their tariffs and stick to them.

Making their announcement on the eve on the Flat season wasn't their brightest idea either - it hardly gives the racecourses time to plan for the changes. Some racecourse owners might have a stash of cash hidden away ready for a rainy day, but chances are most of them don't. The tracks who cry poor and offer rubbish prizemoney all year round though should be considering their future though - is there really a place in a crowded schedule for tracks which just aren't up to scratch?

So the Horsemen's Group, with a decent, but poorly-timed announcement, faced a little bit of criticism, countered with support from some of the most powerful stables in the land, yet buckled under pressure, slashing almost £100k off the Group I tariff on races for 3yos and up (£256k down to £160k).

You'd love to play poker against these guys, one big opening bluff and then they'd fold if anyone called....

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