Racing staff chief hoping all tracks provide free meal for grooms by end of 2018
The chief executive of the National Association of Racing Staff has called for all courses to provide grooms with a free meal on racedays.
George McGrath identified Ascot and Chelmsford as tracks that offer a free meal in the stable staff canteen, but feels there is no reason why others cannot follow suit and hopes they will all fall into line by the end of next year.
He said: "We want to work with the Racecourse Association to provide racing staff with a decent meal upon arrival at a racecourse, which is often after having worked six to eight hours.
"Some racecourses recognise the hard work and already offer a free meal to grooms, but too many continue to provide the stalls handlers and medics with a free meal and nobody else.
"Ascot and Chelmsford are poles apart in the revenue they generate, yet both provide a free meal to the grooms at every meeting. If one of the biggest and one of the smallest racecourses can do it, there's no reason why any of the other racecourses can't.
"We'd like to thank Chelmsford in particular for the effort they made for their last meeting before Christmas, when they provided racing staff with a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings."
Winner's enclosure plea
McGrath also addressed the issue of owners leading in their horses to the winner's enclosure, saying: "Owners should enjoy their victories when they come along because we understand they mean so much, but if you really want to lead your horse in to the winner's enclosure then please show the grooms the respect they deserve before you take control of a half-tonne of racehorse.
"The best thing to do is to walk in on the right-hand side of the horse. By doing so, everyone is happy – all the people who have contributed to the win are in the picture and, more importantly, everyone stays safe."
A commitment to addressing the stable staff shortage, as well as an 8.5 per cent increase in pay for grooms in the last two years, has been implemented by the National Trainers Federation and Nars – rebranded from the National Association of Stable Staff – but McGrath warned more will need to be done.
He said: "There's a long road to travel before we can be seen as a competitive employment prospect for anyone who may not have been born into the world of racing, but we're going the right way and will continue to work together, mostly in harmony."
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