Racing: Jockeys threaten to continue boycott

The fact was steeped in irony, given the nature of the dispute that had the well-known names refusing to ride at the West Midlands track. In the wake of a decision by the company that runs Wolverhampton, Arena Leisure, to recruit its own team of stalls handlers, jockeys, as a body, are currently concerned about safety standards at the start. As a result of the senior men's action, the inexperience yesterday evening was in the saddle, not on the ground.

The first race, happily, passed off without incident. All 11 runners loaded calmly and jumped from the stalls without fuss. The race, a six-furlong claimer, went to the odds-on favourite Outlook, ridden by the one star name on duty, Seb Sanders. The title-chasing rider rode only because his contract with the two-year-old's trainer Sir Mark Prescott precluded him from doing otherwise, but Sanders accepted no outside mounts at the meeting.

The apprentices were in the same no-option boat. "If it had been up to me, I wouldn't have been riding," said 5lb claimer Ben Swarbrick, attached to Mark Brisbourne's yard. "But as an apprentice I have to do as I am told and I had to ride the boss's horses."

Arena Leisure recently announced its decision, based on cutting costs, to dispense with the services of the established stalls handlers, employed by RaceTech and deployed countrywide, and put together its own in-house team. Given that Arena's tracks, which include the two other all-weather venues, Southwell and Lingfield, possess 35 per cent of the fixture list, redundancies in RaceTech's ranks are inevitable.

Interwoven with the RaceTech men's long-term prospects are safety issues. The start of a race can be a high-risk area for man and beast and the experience of handlers is at a premium. Jockeys and trainers are already concerned about the introduction this season of a new style of starting stall and overlaying that with what they see as relatively inexperienced handlers has caused red lights to flash.

Wolverhampton last night was the first time the new stalls team, which has had several dummy runs and has been passed as competent by the Jockey Club, operated for real. The big-name riders were in action last night at Windsor, which is also owned by Arena Leisure but is still serviced by the RaceTech teams.

The jockeys' gesture in snubbing Wolverhampton was to make clear their concerns on two fronts, safety and solidarity, but, perhaps inevitably in today's workplace, it will be only whistling in the wind.

The two sides in the dispute have been talking, but the jockeys' action can be no more than an attention-drawing gesture, for Arena Leisure's commitment to their own operation is a fait accompli. Last night was the shape of the business's future, at its three all-weather tracks this winter and into next summer on its turf courses. "We are going ahead with our own team," said the firm's racing director, Ian Renton. "They are capable and professional. Of the 18, all bar one have previous experience as stalls handlers and all also work in stables. Once the team is bedded in, I hope that the jockeys' fears will be allayed."

Richard Edmondson

Nap: Master Tern (Worcester 7.30)

NB: Think Quick (Perth 5.30)

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
Paul McCartney backs the
people
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone