| Published in Sunday Independent on 18.10.2020 | A Touch of Frost |

The Racehorse Owners Association have launched a relief fund. A last result fund to support the needs of racehorses whose owners are suffering financial hardship due to the fall out of COVID-19. It will be initially funded by the Racing Foundation.

I find it terribly upsetting that the welfare of horses is being impacted so badly but as a trainer myself I know how hard the current situation is. We have had owners remove their horses from our care as they can no longer afford to train or race them as their own businesses have had to shut down due to the pandemic.

I was shocked to read that a survey undertaken back as early as April 2020 by the ROA and the National Trainers Federation indicated that, from the 30% of trainers that responded, there were already owners unable to pay training fees and over 1,500 horses were possibly at risk of being abandoned. The fund has been put in place to help protect those horses that may become abandoned so ensuring the impacts are minimised and their welfare protected. The fund gives horses significant protection and ensures the industry’s high welfare expectations continue to be met.

An announcement by Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the Race Owners Association, said: “This is about protecting horses and livelihoods. As the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis continue to crystallise it is clear that some owners will be financially affected and no longer able to sustain training fees. As a last resort, we hope that this fund will help horses, trainers and owners find a solution that meets the high standards of welfare we expect and provides some financial stability to training yards.”

Sadly, horse abandonment has been growing for some time. This doesn’t just affect the racing industry but private ownership too with livery costs as well as veterinary costs, insurance and shoes running into many thousands of pounds a year. It’s like having another mortgage to pay for. Any parents out there considering buying a pony for their child for Christmas should think again. It is why schemes like our shared racehorse ownership is so popular. Owners can have all the fun of the racing without the costly overheads.

Thankfully the announcement of the fund will provide a financial lifeline, allowing horses to remain on licensed yards, and for yards to cover training costs for a period of up to 3 months while the most appropriate future for the horse can be determined. The fund has an initial funding term of three months.

Illustration for Touch of Frost, 18.10.2020

Nikki and the hare

Back here at home I am in the doghouse as I still haven’t been able to make it up to Nikki for not getting her anything for her birthday. Our children shamed me with Bryony buying her an amazing wooden sculpture of a hare, Dan commissioning a painting of a hare for her and Hadden, who is in America, arranging for plants for our garden to be delivered to her. Nikki loves hares, in fact the house is full of them. There was a story behind the wooden sculpture Bryony bought Nikki. She was driving passed the artist who had his sculptures for sale on the side of the road. Bryony chatted to the man for some time. He said that his house had been recently burgled but when Bryony said how sorry she was for him he said he felt sorrier for the perpetrator. Puzzled by his response she questioned why, he replied because he didn’t need to steal whilst the perpetrator did. Bryony said it made her think. It made us all think. That same day a friend of ours said she was sitting outside a restaurant when a woman came up and took her bread roll off her plate and ran off. The waiters shouted at the woman, but our friend told them not to. She said if the woman had to steal bread off someone’s plate then her life must be terribly sad.

On a deep note, as a family we are so lucky, we have our health, a warm house, a roof over or heads, food on the table and each other. On a not so deep note, the only thing missing is my present for Nikki’s birthday and she’s not going to let me forget that!

Until we catch up again next week, think of others who are less fortunate than you, don’t forget your wife’s birthday and importantly be kind to each other.