Haslam defends non-runner record and insists he is not playing the system
Ben Haslam has insisted he does not play the system after the latest figures published by the BHA showed his percentage of non-runners is the joint-highest in Britain along with Patrick Morris, which places both trainers in serious danger of losing their right to issue self-certificates.
In a bid to discourage non-runners and increase betting turnover, any trainer with more than 100 declarations who has a non-runner rate of 50 per cent or more above the average in the 12-month period to March 31 will be suspended from using self-certificates for 12 months. The current thresholds are 14 per cent for Flat and 12 per cent for jumps.
In the calendar year of 2017 the BHA tables show that 30 of Haslam's 145 declarations on the Flat were non-runners – a rate of 21 per cent – compared to 31 from 160 in the 12 months to September 30 (19 per cent), when he was third behind Morris (24 per cent) and Steph Hollinshead (20 per cent).
Haslam, one of 11 Flat trainers currently above the threshold level, insists that he declares with the intention of running, rather than to have a look at the fields, and said: "I thought September 30 was a line in the sand and we were starting with a clean sheet, and I didn't realise it included vet's certificates.
"Nine months of the data released today is the same as we saw in October, and with only three months of fresh data I've had very little opportunity to get my level down."
He added: "Unfortunately I've had four unavoidable non-runners in that period and only 14 runners, with Prancing Oscar, April Rising, Rey Loopy and Cherry Oak all suffering injuries after the 48-hour stage. Two of them haven't run since.
"But it is what it is and I can't do anything about it. If they want to take away my right to self-certificate I won't argue. We'll continue to do our best, but if a horse has a problem and the vets don't think it should run I'm not going to run."
Mark Gillard, now the sole jumps trainer whose non-runner rate exceeds the threshold, was surprised to learn that his position has not improved since the first set of figures were released for the 12 months to September 30.
He said: "I've made a conscious effort to avoid non-runners if at all possible and I'm surprised to see we're top of the table and still above the threshold level.
"It didn't help that our horsebox broke down with two intended runners on the way to Leicester. These sorts of events are out of my control and I'm also training horses at the bottom end who live with their problems, but I've got until the end of March to improve the situation and I'll do my best."
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