Racing: Owners split over jockeys

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NIGEL PAYNE, the Grand National-winning owner, last night backed the right of jockeys to carry personal sponsorship on their breeches.

But not all of Payne's fellow owners are in support as the countdown to next week's jockeys' meeting at York continues.

Leading riders, led by Jockeys' Association vice-president Richard Dunwoody, have said that they are prepared to flout current regulations and compete with sponsored logos on their riding breeches.

This is in defiance of the British Horseracing Board's insistence that racehorse owners must retain the right of veto.

Payne, a member of the Earth Summit partnership and public relations officer for Aintree racecourse said: "I am totally supportive of the jockeys' situation and would have no worries whatsoever if a jockey was riding Earth Summit and carrying advertising on his breeches and boots, whoever the sponsor or the stable's sponsor was.''

Payne, who sat alongside Jockeys' Association secretary Michael Caulfield during initial discussions upon jockeys' personal sponsorship with the BHB in 1993, said riders were requested to put their demands on hold until the question of owners' sponsorship and VAT reclamation had been resolved.

Five years down the line from this, he says he understands their grievance.

"I do feel the jockeys are owed something and entitled to it," he said. "I feel the rules have been rewritten, which is onerous on the jockeys and I believe there are certain areas they were expecting to get the go- ahead on which have been restricted.

"As long as the sponsor knows what he is buying and the jockey knows what he's selling then everyone can negotiate on that basis.

''What you don't want is the situation where you have sold something you can't give, or you've bought something you can't have," he added.

Sir Peter O'Sullevan, the former BBC racing commentator, whose colours have been carried by successful racehorses such as Attivo and Be Friendly, regretted what he saw as a confrontational stance being taken by the riders.

"Basically I support jockeys in most of their enterprises but I think possibly they have been a little bit precipitous in their demands,'' Sir Peter said.

"It wants thinking through more. It's not as simple as it has been interpreted by the riders and I think they are starting off entirely on the wrong foot by putting words into people's mouths. It wants thinking through calmly, coolly and not in a confrontational mode."