Henry Daly hits out at 'sorely misguided and misrepresentative' BHA
Henry Daly has hit out at the BHA over its handling of welfare issues at the Cheltenham Festival and called on his fellow trainers to take the lead.
Echoing views that Sir Anthony McCoy expressed vociferously on ITV Racing, he is in particular critical of the regulatory body's response to Tuesday's National Hunt Chase, after which three riders were banned for not pulling up, including Declan Lavery, who finished third on Jerrysback.
In an open letter published in Sunday's Racing Post, Daly said: "I am writing to you all with a deep sense of disappointment and disbelief in the leadership we have seen from our regulatory body regarding the welfare issues that have been laid bare at this week’s festival.
"I am sorry to say that the BHA championing itself as guardians of welfare in our sport seems to be sorely misguided and misrepresentative of our great sport.
"To say that the BHA, from senior figures down, should be the guardians of our welfare process is surely inappropriate. There has been virtually no consultation with us trainers who after all have a far greater knowledge of the equine than the majority of those employed in the BHA."
Chief executive Nick Rust responded to criticism of the bans by stressing that his organisation must ensure "British racing keeps control of its own sport" and pointed to the threat laid bare by the parliamentary debate on the BHA's role last November.
But Daly said: "I have to ask why we do not have a stronger and more efficient lobbying system in place in parliament.
"The time has come for us to take our lives and profession into our own hands rather than being led like lambs to the slaughter. We are good employers and experienced horsemen.
"The welfare of our horses and staff have always been our priority. Should it not be us, the trainers, championing welfare rather than the BHA, a regulatory body?"
The BHA did not respond directly to Daly's letter but pointed to its efforts to lobby government and contact MPs to highlight racing's high welfare standards.
And its stance on welfare issues has been supported by Minister for Sport Mims Davies.
Speaking to the Racing Post before publication of Daly's letter, she said: "There is an element of risk both for the jockeys and the horses and it is absolutely right that the BHA has stepped to the fore to make sure that the horse and its welfare is at the heart of this sport.
"This sport will continue to thrive if people feel that equine welfare is being done properly and appropriately and is at the heart of everything.
"I think the BHA is at pains to make sure that is the case and that will then ensure the sport is well thought of and understood."
Davies was at Cheltenham on Friday and spoke to the BHA's director of equine health and welfare David Sykes after Sir Erec suffered a fatal injury in the Triumph Hurdle.
"I questioned the vet about how much pressure they would be under to let that horse go out on to the course and he was very clear it was black and white," she said. "The horse is okay or it is not okay.
"I think the sport is listening and is engaging, and I think long term that serves the sport extremely well. There's no hiding place and if you are getting things wrong, your participants, your supporters, your detractors will find a way to shine a light on bad practice.
"Then absolutely there is no option other than to step up and that's where Cheltenham in terms of its safety and its challenges has stepped up and we have seen that at the meeting this week."
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