Racing could stop unless meeting take place
Italy: All racing in Italy will stop from February 22 unless government minister Mario Catania agrees to an immediate meeting with representatives of the racing industry, which is stepping up its protests to highlight the critical state of the sport's finances.
A meeting of Rappresentanza Unitaria dell'Ipica, a group representing many sectors of Italian racing including owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, stable staff and farriers, took place on Wednesday evening and voted to suspend all racing from the end of next week.
However, racecourses and their umbrella organisation, Federippodromi, have decided to address the problems on their own, rather than as part of a united front.
Federippodromi vice-president Elio Pautasso, general manager at Capannelle racecourse in Rome, explained: "Not everything being discussed is a priority for us. Federippodromi has to concentrate on what is important for the racecourses."
Rappresentanza Unitaria dell'Ipica issued a statement, which said: "We require an urgent meeting with Mario Catania, minister for agriculture, food and forestry, but if that does not happen we will, because of the lack of financial resources, stop all racing from February 22.
"The minister's decision at the end of January to implement an act which put just 30 million euros into racing to cover a six-figure shortfall from 2012 was unacceptable, as is the fact that it is being deducted from the 2013 budget.
"We are also calling for a stop to the transmission of foreign races as that is taking away valuable betting turnover from Italian racing."
The act referred to stated that the payment of all arrears from 2012 would be made but staggered over three years and deducted from the budgets of 2013 (30 million), 2014 (30 million) and 2015 (37 million). It also stated that there would probably be a 14 per cent reduction in the number of races run during 2013.
The suspension of the on-course action is being implemented in tandem with a continuation of the recent protests, which have included blockades on roads in and around the major cities, strings of horses causing disruption on roads local to the training centres and stopping coaches carrying top football clubs such as Inter Milan, AC Milan and Napoli en route to their Serie A matches.
Fabio Carnevali, one of the organisers of the demonstrations in his capacity as president of Assogallopo, which also represents horse racing professionals, said: "The situation is grave and no longer sustainable."