The announcement earlier this week that the racing operators and the Racing Association will shortly be facilitating the implementation of the payment of 1% of all stakes earned to grooms, has once again highlighted the extreme financial burden carried by the owner.
While the sharing gesture is long overdue for a sector of the industry that has enjoyed little formal representation, the financial mechanics of the largely unilateral decision has the effect that it is deducted not from the stakes pot but on stakes earned.
That means owners alone carry the can and jockeys and trainers are unaffected.
The problem is that there has also been zero consultation and the operators speak as if they are the industry. They have no right to do so, surely?
Particularly ironic is the fact that they were at pains to stress recently that the grooms are employed by trainers, and are in essence not their responsibility.
Think for a moment about the owner’s role:
- They buy the horse;
- They pay for the feed, the training, the vet, medicines, procedures, supplements, the farrier, the chiropractor, the jockey’s air-tickets etc
- They pay for nominations and acceptances to Phumelela who distribute it to the RA;
- They pay for presents for the grooms and meals when away from their home/stable base;
- When stakes are earned the jockey gets 10% of the earnings. This amount, when considered, is a free 10% of the horse on race days without any contribution by the jockey. Moreover the jockey gets a riding fee.
- Owners pay trainers 7% of the stakes earned. This is on top of their other monthly charges. Again on racedays, owners through stakes, effectively lose 7% of the asset, which is maintained 100% by themselves.
The RA earns approximately R15 – R20 million from nominations and acceptances.
They pay the trainer association a monthly stipend out of the nominations and acceptances which is said to be 10% of the amount received.
Is the summary deduction from stakes not unlawful and is it not the RA or the operators that should be making the payment to the grooms?
For owners, stakes remain paltry and costs increase year in year out.
No wonder the numbers have dropped off year after year and continue to dwindle.
The super-rich minority will be all that is left one of these fine days.