Oliver Cole, assistant trainer to father Paul Cole in Whatcombe, has suggested that a relaxed view on entry requirements and a reduction in the costs incurred by those collecting visas to work in Britain could help alleviate the current staffing crisis in the horse racing industry.
The Head Lad at the Cole yard is Duilo Da Silva and the stable jockey is brother Raul Da Silva from Brazil. Oliver Cole believes that being able to entice more workers from abroad can have a major positive impact.
Cole has pointed out that when Head Lad, Da Silva came to Britain 14 years ago, his English test wasn’t so stringent and visas weren’t expensive but now that has all changed. Currently any workers from abroad looking to get into the horse racing industry will have to pay £2,800 compared to £350 in 2004.
Work riders and stable staff from South America are opting to head to Scandinavia, mainland Europe and Dubai where visas are easier to get hold of, leaving Britain with a potentially crippling shortage of staff.
Without sparking outrage, digging only fractionally beneath the surface of horse racing in Britain shows the reliance on foreign workers to keep the sport going and yet the outward support for Brexit from some corners does not abate.
As we’ve reported this week, not all trainers agree the staffing shortage is that big a deal frankly but the deeper question may be why the sport, or the individual owners, have allowed so many of the horses to be trained by so few trainers.
Rather than spreading the horses around different yards and importantly around different parts of the country, small towns like Newmarket have hundreds of horses that all need to be fed, treated and exercised, Until the talent is shared out more this staffing crisis will not go away.
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