Balding and Hannon will no longer take on any new recruits
Andrew Balding and Richard Hannon, two of the main champions of young riding talent, have revealed they do not intend taking on any new apprentices for the foreseeable future.
Balding has followed the example set by his father Ian over decades in nurturing the fledgling careers of jockeys as successful as William Buick, Oisin Murphy and David Probert, while Hannon has added the 2015 champion apprentice Tom Marquand to the impressive list of riding stars his father Richard steered through the ranks, a list that includes Ryan Moore.
Lee Mottershead's column in Monday's Racing Post exposed issues concerning the regulation of the relationship between some trainers and their apprentices, and highlighted the BHA's lack of urgency in addressing the alleged exploitation by some trainers of successful apprentices by taking their permitted share of riders' prize-money earnings while failing to meet their obligations regarding expenses.
Balding, whose five current apprentices include rising star Josh Bryan, was held up by Mottershead as a shining example of a trainer who follows all the rules, to the mutual benefit of both parties.
However, while he takes considerable pride in the many successes of his Kingsclere academy, he has reluctantly come to the conclusion it is becoming too much trouble.
"Having read recent articles and opinions regarding the alleged exploitation of apprentice jockeys, I have decided for the time being I will not be employing any new young apprentices in the future," he said.
"Not every trainer is prepared to offer young riders the opportunities they require when they first start in racing. Indeed, many are happy to use apprentices once they have established themselves as capable riders and when their claim is of some value, and to me this now makes perfect sense.
"Why would you want to go to the lengths of applying for an apprentice licence when the licensing department at the BHA seems to create hurdle after hurdle, adding to the burden of an already busy racing office?
"Added to this, there's the time off that's now required for apprentices to attend a number of training courses and seminars, and if there's now going to be an effort to reduce the percentages owed to the employer of the apprentices, then where's the benefit of taking them on in the first place?"
Quite often absent
Balding pointed out apprentices are paid a wage and are usually provided with accommodation. If they are lucky enough to be in demand they are quite often absent during working hours, but are still paid nonetheless.
It can be an effort, he said, persuading owners or other trainers that an apprentice is worth using, and in order to provide opportunities trainers like himself normally train a couple of horses at a reduced rate, or else own them and keep them at their own expense.
He continued: "Apprenticeships nowadays are far less restrictive than they were even ten years ago, and both the apprentice or the trainer should be able to make their own arrangements and decisions as to what's mutually beneficial.
"We're not talking about sending children up a chimney with a brush, and if an apprentice isn't happy in one yard it doesn't exclude them from trying another if they feel there'd be more opportunities, or if they may be financially better off.
"The one thing I think is very important for young riders is they do not have a sense of entitlement and they see that an apprenticeship is, and should be, a period of learning and hard work."
Balding also feels suggestions Stan Moore financially exploited the success of 2016 champion apprentice Josephine Gordon are unfair.
He said: "Reference made to the profit Stan may have made is short-sighted. Stan gave Josephine the opportunities, acted as a fantastic mentor to her, and was totally entitled to anything he might have made out of her career.
"He's been a great supporter of apprentices – and not all of them have been as talented or successful as Josephine."
Hannon, meanwhile, takes exception to the suggestion trainers are exploiting apprentices by not paying the expenses they are entitled to, and says Moore is "a hero, not a villain".
He echoed many of the points made by Balding, as well as those voiced by Richard Fahey in Tuesday's Racing Post, and added a few more of his own.
Hannon admitted his apprentices do not get all the expenses the agreement between the National Trainers Federation and the Professional Jockeys Association should entitle them to, but insisted any legitimate claim made by an apprentice will be honoured, and pointed to the many other costs involved for trainers, and benefits for apprentices outlined by his colleagues.
Hannon said: "Our apprentices are paid a proper wage, higher than the national requirement, even while they're riding, which I think a lot of apprentices aren't getting, but they still have the opportunity to put in expenses for mileage, etc, if they wish.
"If they put them in we have to pay them, but if they choose not to then it's not up to us to tell them to."
'Far too much hassle'
Successful apprentices from the stable other than Moore and Marquand include Dane O'Neill and Pat Dobbs, but for every one who makes the grade there are many more who do not ride even ten winners.
Hannon concluded: "It's become far too much hassle. It should be a relationship between trainers and apprentices, and trainers should be in charge of it.
"We normally have four or five on our books, as we have now, and we school them all through that difficult period before they're off and away.
"But if the authorities start cracking down on the likes of me, who make these riders before others take advantage of them, then there will be no point doing it."
Trainer Ralph Beckett, as chairman of the NTF Flat Committee, was another to air his thoughts on Tuesday.
He said: "The NTF was instrumental in updating the apprentice agreement with the PJA and BHA just two years ago. So we are surprised this is being revisited again now.
"The NTF, on behalf of its members, wholeheartedly supports the points made by Andrew Balding.
"As he rightly points out, apprenticeships are not at all restrictive, leaving apprentices to change employer as and when they see fit. Josephine Gordon had several employers before she became successful with Stan Moore.
"In short, restricting trainers won't weed out bad apples; instead it will reduce opportunities for apprentices in general. Is that really what the industry wants?"