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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Wilson attacks 'counter productive' crackdown on no-hopers in top races

Fergus Wilson: critical of new BHA rule
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Fergus Wilson has hit out at the BHA's decision to bar apparent no-hopers from Group 1 races on the Flat and Grade 1 events over jumps.

The controversial owner, who was himself renowned for running rank outsiders in big races, claims it will continue the decline in numbers of horses in training.

In a letter to BHA chief executive Nick Rust, seen by the Racing Post, Wilson said: "The lemming instinct of the BHA is not for myself to consider. I merely make the point that you are selling dreams, and putting on such restrictions is counter-productive resulting in less horses being bred and less employment within the horseracing industry.

"The number of horses in training in the past few years has dropped by 15 per cent." 

It was announced this week that from next year horses aged three or older will need a BHA rating of at least 80 to run in a Group 1 race on the Flat and a mark of 130 to take part in a Grade 1 jump race, other than a novice hurdle – or 120 for a novice chase.

But Wilson, a Kent-based property magnate, stressed: "An entry to the Derby is a contract. There is nothing wrong with a minimum standard but it must be in the contract before the parties strike the contract."

Maidstone Mixture finished last in the Derby for Fergus and Judith Wilson at 250-1

Wilson now has just two horses in training in France but he and his wife Judith used to be represented by outsiders in many of the big races in Britain and their colours were carried by 250-1 shot Maidstone Mixture, who finished last in the Derby in 2008.

John Stocker also criticised the new rules, which would have barred his filly Dream Start from this year's 1,000 Guineas.

"When the horse was purchased from Godolphin the pedigree indicated good potential and her performance on the gallops indicated that the potential was there," the owner said. "An entry was made into the 1,000 Guineas.

"Her initial maiden race produced a small setback that was rectified.
Her subsequent work was good and I was present at her work a week before the race and discussed her prospects with John Ryan and Josephine Gordon. The consensus was that she probably would not win it but would not be disgraced – on that basis we proceeded. By this stage we had committed over £5,000 and the ladies had bought their frocks!"

Dream Start finished last of 14 at 200-1 but Stocker said: "Over the past ten years I have achieved 50 winners, some of those 100-1 no- hopers, and qualified for the Dubai Gold Cup with a horse that cost me £35,000.

"Like many small owners we sometimes live a dream and it would be a pity if the chance for that dream to materialise was taken away."

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The number of horses in training in the past few years has dropped by 15 per cent
E.W. Terms
Sky bet