Grassick calls on Turf Club to restrict number of licences
The Turf Club should restrict the number of trainer's licences it issues in order to protect existing trainers, according to Michael Grassick, head of the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association.
Following comments made by Tony Mullins that the concentration of resources among a handful of owners was having a detrimental effect on racing in Ireland, Grassick suggested on Thursday that a surfeit of licences was also contributing to a crisis in the Irish training ranks, although the number of registered handlers has already fallen in recent years.
“There’s an oversupply of licences and I think we need to slow that down to try and protect the people who currently hold them,” Grassick said.
“There just isn’t the number of horses outside of the top stables to sustain the number of trainers we have and the Turf Club could look at the prospect of cutting back on the number of trainers' licences we issue each year and try to protect the trainers who are currently trying to make a living in the sport.
“We need to give our current licence-holders every chance to stay in the game for the next four or five years and hopefully that will give them a chance to reap any benefits if there is a little upturn in the economy because at the moment people are still struggling to afford to have horses in training."
Turf Club chief executive Denis Egan said the proposition was worth discussing.
“It's something we could consider," he said. "I do agree with Michael with regard to the loss of trainers. I have said it consistently that a lot of trainers are struggling."
He added: “We can all name trainers who are really good, and who have trained Grade 1 winners but now train less than ten horses or who are no longer in the game. They don't become bad trainers overnight.
“However, I don't think it is fair to blame the licensing system for this. The main difficulty is the majority of horses are with a small number of trainers but that is the free market system, owners can go where they wish. Any person entering the training profession enters with their eyes open and the market will always regulate itself.
“I don't think it is a licensing function to address the issues that are there. There may be other ways. However, we will listen and work with all parties to try to make things better.”