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Embattled racing professionals to protest

Italy: There will be no racing in Italy on Friday as the sport’s professionals mount a protest outside the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance in Rome.

The demonstration, which will take place from 9am to 2pm, has been planned to raise awareness of racing’s financial plight to both politicians and the public.

There is a sense of having been here before – there was no racing in Italy throughout January last year until its resumption in mid-February as the racing industry reacted to a 40 per cent cut in prize money and attempted to seek solutions through the government.

This year the national associations representing breeders, owners, trainers, racecourses, as well as many other organisations and individuals who make their living from Italy’s racing industry, are taking part in the protest, which is calling for the payment of money promised to the sport in 2012.

That promise was made last February, when agriculture minister Mario Catania said there would be a €35 million cash injection, which has never been forthcoming, with Catania saying: “I am not the minister who holds the cash. “

Fabio Carnevali, one of the organisers of the demonstration in his capacity as president of Assogallopo, the voice of horseracing professionals, said: “There has been a hand brake on the horseracing industry and to release it we urgently need the betting industry and the laws which govern it to undergo a total reform, but that requires help from the politicians.”

Catania said in August: "I can act as a go-between for the racing industry within the ministry of economy but I still don't have the direct financial assets needed to solve certain problems.

"Horseracing has been in a crisis for a couple of years now, which is not helped by the decrease in betting movement. I will work with the racing industry to try to find all the possible solutions."

During Friday’s demonstration, representations will be made to government officials calling for a meeting to address a number of points, including an outline of the parlous state of Italian racing, the immediate need for the outstanding €35 million to be paid, and the reform of horseracing management and betting to try and save 50,000 jobs.

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