Debt collector: Weatherbys steps up fight against non-paying owners
Trainers are being offered third-party assistance to tackle the scourge of owners who fail to pay bills through a new debt collection service.
Group 1 Credit Management, a business created by Weatherbys Racing Bank and Arno Rudolf's AR Legal Collections, will seek to assist members who are struggling with unpaid fees, a problem that hit the headlines last year when Al Shaqab Racing racked up more than £1 million in debts, which have now been honoured.
Trainers are charged £99 plus VAT per month for a service aiming to recover overdue payments "quickly and discreetly" and also make inquiries regarding the financial reliability of prospective owners.
David Hart, associate director of Weatherbys Racing Bank, said: "Racehorse training is no different to any other business in that trainers can experience slow payment of invoices and some bad debt.
"With cash flow being so critical, we have offered a training fee payment service for a number of years where, with the necessary authorisation, payments can be made directly from an owner's Weatherbys Bank account.
"This service is used by hundreds of owners and trainers and is really convenient. We actively encourage both parties to use it and the National Trainers Federation [NTF] is helping us increase awareness.
"The formation of Group 1 is in many ways an extension to this service in assisting trainers with the financial management of their businesses. Group 1 will provide a simple credit control service for busy racehorse trainers to help keep their cash flow healthy."
The NTF is backing the venture, and chief executive Rupert Arnold said: "We've worked with Arno Rudolf and his company for several years and they've provided an excellent service for a number of our members, so this is a positive development. We'd recommend trainers use this type of service.
"Unpaid fees are a problem trainers regularly come to us with and it's a subject on which we are constantly giving advice.
"One of our messages is that trainers need to be proactive in managing credit and in taking steps, such as they can, to protect themselves against owners running up a bad debt which becomes more and more difficult to collect."
BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said: "The BHA understands that collection of debts can be an issue for trainers in certain circumstances and therefore any initiative that assists with this should be welcomed.
"We continue to encourage all owners and trainers to have training agreements which specify clear charges for both parties so that disagreements can be avoided and training bills settled on time.
"The sport relies on the continued partnerships between owners and trainers, and as regulator we can assist when all other avenues have been explored."
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