Hannon demands action over 'disrespectful' prize-money at Windsor
Richard Hannon has issued a strong call for action over prize-money levels at Windsor and insisted he will minimize his runners at the Berkshire course until something is done about the situation, which he labelled as "bordering on outright disrespectful to racing professionals".
Hannon's broadside came hot on the heels of fellow trainer William Haggas's condemnation of the prize-money on offer at Southwell – owned, like Windsor, by Arena Racing Company – on Easter Sunday.
Hannon, and previously his father Richard snr, have been regular fixtures at Windsor in recent years, with the yard sending out more winners there than any other stable in every year since 2010 other than last season.
"I'm getting very bored of going there and seeing the place full, the bars are heaving, they're charging £85 for a bottle of champagne and we're running nice horses for just £2,000," Hannon said.
"I will try and restrict my entries – for me it's not worth having runners there. We love the track, and it's a good racing surface and people like to go there, but the prize-money is bordering on outright disrespectful to racing professionals.
THE HANNONS AT WINDSOR
2010 22 winners from 141 runners
2011 9 from 99
2012 20 from 81
2013 22 from 102
2014 13 from 98
2015 13 from 94
2016* 8 from 71
*the only year not the leading stable at Windsor
"This isn't a new problem and something needs to be done. We ran a £62,000 two-year-old in a race that was won by one that cost 90,000gns and the runner-up cost £170,000, yet we're racing for two grand.
"If I have a nice two-year-old and there's a race somewhere else, we won't go to Windsor. I hope others will do the same."
While Haggas praised Arc for "delivering what they promised" with another high-quality all-weather championships finals day in store at Lingfield on Good Friday, he labelled the prize-money at sister track Southwell on Sunday as "laughable and a disgrace".
The Newmarket trainer boasts two live contenders on the big day at Lingfield with 2-1 favourite Muffri’Ha contesting the 32Red All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes and 6-4 market leader Second Thought running in the 3-Y-O Conditions Stakes.
Those two races are worth £300,000, with prize-money totalling £1million at Lingfield and £1,425,000 when including the other two Good Friday meetings at Newcastle and Bath, also Arc tracks. But just £30,250 is on offer for seven races at Southwell two days later.
Haggas, who last saddled a runner at Southwell in 2015, said: "It looks a competitive card at Lingfield and it’s terrific prize-money. That’s what they promised and that’s what they’ve delivered.
"It’s quite difficult to get the authorities to race on Good Friday for various reasons and the cards at Newcastle and Bath are also pretty, pretty good.
"The Southwell card on Easter Sunday on the other hand is a disgrace. To stage seven races, that may well end up being eight, for just over £30,000 is laughable. It shouldn’t be allowed and we won’t be supporting it."
Southwell has taken over the reins for the Easter Sunday fixture with last year's meeting taking place at Wolverhampton, also owned by Arc, when prize-money for eight races was £54,201.
Susannah Gill, director of external affairs at Arc, said: “The races at Southwell on Easter Sunday are all being run at the minimum values set by the BHA and agreed by the Horsemen’s Group.
"Arc has significantly increased its executive contribution in recent years in order to invest in prize-money across its racecourses, as illustrated by Good Friday’s fixtures where prize-money of £1,425,000 is on offer at Lingfield, Newcastle and Bath.
"Arc fully supports the emerging consensus that any additional funds received from reform of the levy in the years ahead should be targeted at the grassroots of the sport."