Losses make McCormack quit

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The Independent Online
The difficulties that trainers face in keeping their businesses afloat was brought into focus yesterday with the announcement that Matt McCormack is to give up his licence because he has been operating at a loss for the past three seasons.

The 56-year-old, who has been training for 17 years, saddled his last runner, Isla Glen, at Chepstow on Monday.

"I am going out with a smile but this is a sad day all the same," he said. "I would love to be going to Doncaster Yearling Sales with 20 orders but I do not have one.

"We held a bit of an open morning 10 days ago and not a single person turned up. In a way I was pleased, because it made the decision easy. I can't go on losing money. I rent the yard and don't owe a penny to anybody and at least I can go out with my head held high."

McCormack accepts that most of his 22-horse team are "no good" and recognises that he simply cannot make things pay. "I do the job properly and charge pounds 184 per week but it is costing owners pounds 15,000 per year to have a horse in training, which means they have to win five pounds 3,000 races in one season to break even. How many horses do that?"

McCormack, who leaves for "a new life outside the sport", has plenty of memories of the good days to call up. Although his highest win tally was 22 in 1985, McCormack produced Horage to win the 1982 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group One St James's Palace Stakes at the same meeting the following year.

Prince Ferdinand and Night Of Wind also both won at the royal meeting for him and his stalwart Taffy Jones won 19 races over hurdles, fences and on the Flat.

Campaigners will on Sunday launch a concerted effort to further reduce betting tax. The British Horseracing Board has published a report pressing the Government to cut the duty by 13/4% to bring it down to 5%. John Greenway, the Conservative MP whose Ryedale constituency includes the training centre of Malton, said yesterday that a reduction in tax was vital. Greenway, the chairman of Parliament's All-Party Racing and Bloodstock Industries Committee, will use the platform of Malton's open day on Sunday to whip up support. "Last time when we asked for a 23/4% reduction the Government gave us 1%," he said. "That was a welcome step but more is needed to offset the impact of the National Lottery on betting. Four hundred betting shops were closed last year."