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The thorny issue of whether licensed trainers should be allowed to run in hunter chases always activates a lively debate.

It saddens me to see a highly rated horse from a large yard winning a hunter chase where the owner and trainer aren’t even there to collect their prize. To them, it’s just
a statistic.

This is in contrast to the sheer happiness that a win on the big stage can bring a trainer who does it for the love of the sport. This takes me back to the late Bob Wale, who lived for his hunting and horses. He had a cheap horse called Morning Dawn whom he trained on his farm and hunted with the Pytchley.

Bob’s biggest thrill was when his horse won a hunter chase at Hereford. That is what hunter chases should be about.

You can’t blame the professional trainer for wanting an easy win, particularly now that you no longer have to hunt to qualify. That is why I applaud the hunter chase “grassroots” initiative whereby horses have to run in a point-to-point before it can hunter chase. This will make it harder for professional trainers to take part and give amateur trainers a chance to fulfil a lifelong dream. Hopefully the British Horseracing Authority will make sure there are more of them in the future.

Ref Horse & Hound; 16 February 2017