Slee Blackwell Barrister and partner, Roderick Moore, was recently invited by the National Trainers Federation to give a talk to its members at Taunton Racecourse on the steps trainers can take to reduce the risks of facing disciplinary action from the British Horseracing Authority.

The BHA regularly summons trainers and Jockeys to appear before its Disciplinary Panel and hears appeals from decisions taken on the course by Racecourse Stewards for breaches of the Rules of Racing. The BHA has the power to impose fines and suspend both Jockeys and horses.

Roderick’s view is that many running and riding offences are avoidable and that well informed trainers should be able to avoid falling foul of the Rules. He gave a useful overview of the Rules, including the need for horses to be run on their merits and the duty to obtain the best possible placing. Roderick stressed the need for any potential defences and mitigating factors to be raised at the earliest opportunity, ideally at or even before the post-race Enquiry. The importance of the instructions trainers are required to give Jockeys was also highlighted. Roderick identified some relatively simple guidelines that trainers can follow to avoid being referred to the BHA’s Disciplinary Panel for lack of proper instructions. They should include for instance instructions on use of the whip and whether to drop in, drop out, or make the running.

Roderick stressed how important it is for trainers to retain written evidence of their instructions to the Jockey. He explained this can be in a simple e-mail or even a text message. Instructions must however be coherent and bespoke. Trainers can’t simply rely on past dealings with Jockeys or intuition. Trainers were reminded that evidence given at a Stewards’ Enquiry is recorded. They should not therefore be rushed into offering a definitive view of the alleged offence until they have properly reviewed the race. Roderick recommended that trainer’s should preface their comments by stipulating that it is only their ‘preliminary’ or ‘provisional’ view, which will allow them some room for manoeuvre at a later date if necessary. Roderick also suggested that trainers should take a dispassionate and objective approach and resist the temptation to remain loyal to the Jockey in all situations.

The NTF’s Dawn Bacchus, who is herself a Chartered Legal Executive, brought proceedings to a conclusion with a reminder of the terms of the NTF’s legal expenses insurance scheme and the requirement for claims to be submitted as early as possible because of the very strict time limits imposed by the BHA.

Plans are being made for Roderick Moore to give his seminar to trainers at Newmarket, but in the meantime if you have a BHA disciplinary concern then call him on our FREE legal helpline, 0800 955 1038.


Roderick Gives Talk To West Country Racehorse Trainers On BHA Disciplinary Panels