Racing week: jockeys strike over stall handlers

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  • Top jockeys boycotted Monday’s meeting at Wolverhampton following Arena Leisure’s insistence that it will continue to use its own team of stall handlers during the all-weather season.

    The meeting at Arena Leisure-owned Wolverhampton was the first fixture at which the in-house team was used and the striking jockeys expressed concerns over safety issues with the new team and the long-term prospects for the RaceTech handlers.

    Their action prompted the resignation of Barney Curley from the National Trainers’ Federation the following day, in protest at his trade organisation’s refusal to support the strikes. The Jockey Association has expressed disappointment that a solution has not yet been found and is meeting with Arena Leisure today to try and avoid a second boycott.

    Monday’s fixture continued with apprentice jockeys and passed without a hitch, despite the inexperience of both jockeys and stall handlers.

    Although Arena is adamant that it will use its own teams for Wolverhampton, Southwell and Lingfield, it intends to use RaceTech for summer turf meetings.

    Race Tech takes no comfort in this, fearing speculations that the turf season will be reduced to seven months and redundancies will be inevitable. Meanwhile Arena Leisure deems its stalls operation a success and hopes there will be no further disruption.

    A good week for

    Frankie Dettori will return to racing today (Friday) after breaking his collar bone in a crashing fall 8 weeks ago. He is booked to ride several Godolphin horses at Newmarket in this afternoon’s fixture and will up his workload on Saturday, riding at Goodwood in the afternoon and Windsor in the evening.

    A bad week for

    Trainer Tom Keddy found himself in hospital for the second time in a week after being kicked in the face by one of his charges. Keddy was lunging a horse when it kicked out and struck him in the face, breaking his jaw. A week earlier Keddy fractured his arm when a horse stumbled and fell on top of him.

    Over the water

    After failing to take the Juddmonte International last week, Zenno Rob Roy is to return to Japan in preference to continuing his adventures in Europe. The five year old colt failed to beat Italy’s Electrocutionist in the Group 1 mile-and-a-quarter contest at York last week.

    Safety first

    Body protectors could become compulsory items for grooms riding work, bringin them into line with rules governing jockeys at racecourses. The Jockey Club regulatory board will consider the matter next month. In addition, the Jockey Club plans to consider introducing thresholds for dehydration levels of jockeys. Studies are due to be completed by November, after which a decision will be made based on the medical evidence.

    Big boost for Aintree

    The redevelopment of the home of the Grand National has received a £4.7million boost from the Northwest Region Development fund. The £35million project will see two new state-of-the-art permanent grandstands erected to replace the temporary ones used for the course’s infamous Grand National meeting. Other improvement will include moving the parade ring, winner’s and unsaddling enclosure, as well as building a new weighing room and stabling complex.

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