King and Greatrex slam 'disgusting' treatment of owners at Worcester
Owners could boycott Worcester unless facilities are improved, warned leading jumps trainer Alan King, who was left fuming after attending Saturday's meeting, describing the situation as appalling and disgusting.
King's comments were backed up by fellow trainer Warren Greatrex, who was also unhappy with conditions, saying the course has not progressed at all in terms of hosting owners.
The pair each had a runner for Max McNeill and Greg Stone, who were frustrated at their experience, posting pictures on Twitter of their restricted view.
King then let rip on Sunday, telling the Racing Post: "It's never been the best for comfort, but I thought yesterday it hit an all-time low.
"The two owners' and trainers' bars we use had, I think, both gone to hospitality and we got stuck in a little shed overlooking the river with a tiny little screen, which had been borrowed from the Tote.
"We were crammed in there. The bar was about four foot long and most of the beer pumps didn't work for most of the day. It was just a very uncomfortable experience and to take owners there and be treated like that isn't acceptable.
"Max and Greg are big players now and they've horses with me and Warren and they basically said, 'Never again, we're not going back to Worcester'."
The trainer revealed some of his other owners had already taken that stance.
He continued: "It seems all Worcester wants to do is get as many people through the gates and open up all the bars for them, and to hell with owners and trainers.
"It's appalling. My owners yesterday had a pretty awful experience and don't want to go back unless there's dramatic improvement. I've had owners in the past who've experienced it and just won't go back. This is the worst I've ever experienced. It wasn't enjoyable."
King, who saddled Azzerti for McNeill and Stone to finish fourth in the 2m4f novice chase, added: "My list of owners who point blank refuse to let me enter in races at Worcester is growing by the meeting. It's miles the worst course I ever go to.
"Most of the other tracks have improved owners' facilities greatly, but this one is going backwards; it was better 20 years ago. Other owners there yesterday were appalled too; they've got to be looked after better. That was disgusting yesterday."
Those sentiments were echoed by King's Lambourn-based counterpart Greatrex, who accepts the need to attract more racegoers, but not at the cost of connections.
He said: "They had a big crowd, which is fantastic, but not when owners are having to go around the back and can't see a horse, only boats going down the river.
"A lot of owners were going to sit on the steps of the weighing room because there wasn't enough room and they were trying to stay in the shade.
"We want plenty of the public to come racing and it was busy with people having a good time, but we have to look after owners."
Greatrex, who saddled Top Of The Charts to be third in the bumper for McNeill and Stone, suggested he might think twice about entering horses at Worcester unless changes take place.
"If things didn't improve I might go along those lines as well because it's just not good enough," he said.
"Worcester has always been a bit of an issue with owners and I know some of mine who won't have runners there because they don't have a good experience.
"The actual track is very good and fair, but facilities for owners have to be better.
"I think they had hospitality in an owners' and trainers' bar and were earning money from that, which is fine, but owners have to be looked after better.
"Out of the tracks we go to, it doesn't seem to have improved at all; some tracks could be better, but at least a lot are trying. It just seems Worcester hasn't progressed at all."
Sam Cone, PR and communications manager for Arena Racing Company, which owns Worcester, said: “Ladies' day is traditionally Worcester’s busiest fixture of the year and, as in previous years, we hired an extra, larger, facility for owners and trainers that looks over the river, providing additional space and privacy.
"We would like to apologise to the McNeill family that on this occasion they found the facility unsatisfactory. We'll certainly take their feedback, and that of others, on board ahead of future fixtures.”
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