Hills: It will be a sad day when they do away with amateur stewards
Legendary trainer Barry Hills has expressed disappointment at the BHA's proposal to replace volunteer raceday stewards with professionals.
The move forms part of a six-week consultation designed to produce a new stewarding model, which will take effect from 2019. Under the current system a pool of 97 volunteer stewards sit on raceday panels, advised by professional stipendiary stewards – but responsibility for decision-making lies with the volunteer panel.
"The day they do away with amateur stewards will be a sad day for racing generally," said Hills, commenting in this week's RPSunday Q and A. "They've done a very good job over the years and there have been very few complaints.
"Whoever does the job, there are going to be mistakes."
Commenting on the proposals, BHA chief regulatory officer Jamie Stier agreed the volunteer system had served the sport well, but stated the need for "clear accountability" in raceday integrity issues.
"While the current stewarding model has served British racing well for many years, now is the right time to look at alternative models.
"This will allow us to decide which one can best provide clear accountability for raceday integrity issues, decision-making and support a fully comprehensive programme of training and development for all stewards.
"We also need to ensure that our approach can, in future, deliver the resources needed to service the fixture list fully and effectively.
"I'd like to pass on my great appreciation to all our volunteer stewards for their commitment and service to British racing which has seen our sport progress to its current highly-regarded position.
"We hope they will continue to make themselves available through the period of the consultation and transition."
Hills, who retired in 2011 following an illustrious career that included five British Classic winners and an Arc, also lamented the current state of racing administration.
When asked, other than better prize-money, what he would change about British racing, Hills replied: "Less bureaucracy – they could make a lot of it simpler. It’s a sport and should be kept as a sport, and should be fun, entertaining."
Read the full Q and A with Barry Hills on racingpost.com from 6pm Saturday or in RPSunday