After a recent feature on ITV Racing about the apparent chronic shortage of stable staff within British racing, trainers now seem not to agree over the effects of the personnel deficiency.
According to reports, British racing is short of some 1,000 stable staff at present with many who have left the business citing unsociable hours and drastically short pay as reasons for not continuing to pursue a career within the Sport of Kings.
Leading National Hunt trainer, Nicky Henderson, went as far this week as to say he was “worried to death” about the shortfall of people, while colleague, James Evans believes low prize money in the UK is at the heart of the issue.
Evan Williams on the other hand, a handler based in the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, suggests people are jumping on the bandwagon somewhat and described commentators on the subject as “doom and gloom merchants.”
It is true that the staffing shortage needs to be put into context somewhat; that while it is a problem it is not unique and certainly not to any industry calling itself rural. In an increasingly modern and tech savvy world, people don’t want to travel out to the country at 4AM to do their job and not when the pay is so low.
Williams suggests that the BHA take a positive approach to the situation and do more to increase prize money in British racing, perhaps cancelling some meetings so as to concentrate more on quality than quantity and it’s hard to disagree with that.
It has been pointed out this week, wisely I think, that ‘big’ yards twenty or thirty years ago may have housed 50-100 horses each and so staffed accordingly, but it was put rather eloquently by another trainer in the last few days that small yards now are like corner shops being driven out by the ‘Tescos’ of the big yards, each with hundreds of horses. It seems as though it is those yards, unsurprisingly, that cannot staff up accordingly.
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