May I begin by saying I was overwhelmed and humbled by the response to my last blog. I received many e-mails and messages and I think I managed to reply to them all. If I did miss anyone out with my replies I apologise – it wasn’t intentional.
It’s interesting to note the BHA continue to show their ineptitude and complete lack of authority.
Reading the recent Sungate report it now transpires the cornerstone of “regulation” - strict liability of trainers for what is administered to their horses isn’t so strict after all.
Presumably the secret list of impacted trainers includes some very high profile names and, as was the case with Sheikh Mohamed, it seems the BHA is more interested in keeping the powerful onside than true, impartial regulation.
However the BHA doesn’t have a monopoly in incompetency when it comes to racing regulators.
The punishment handed out to Martin Dwyer by the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) on the face of it and when compared with similar offences in the UK, looks severe but that is as far as my sympathy goes.
Riders are happy to take the money on offer for riding overseas and in doing so accept they have to ride to the local rules and regulations, so they cannot bleat when what is deemed an excessive punishment is meted out by the local stewards – if you don’t like the local rules then don’t play the local game.
My sympathy for Dwyer is all the more diminished as, following the Richard Hughes case, it was patently obvious the rules in India were harsher than in the UK – but he was still lured by the money on offer.
Now there is a clamour for Dwyer’s ban not to be reciprocated by the BHA.
I had to smile at PJA boss Paul Struthers pronouncements on the matter calling on the BHA not to reciprocate any ban, whereas in his previous role he would have been defending the BHA’s stance in reciprocation – a classic case of gamekeeper turned poacher.
It is irrelevant if we think Dwyer’s ban is too harsh, for what it’s worth I do think it’s excessive but those are the local rules and the general agreement is bans are reciprocated.
If there is a reciprocation arrangement in place then ALL bans should be reciprocated otherwise it will make a complete mockery of the disciplinary process if authorities can pic and choose when to enforce bans.
However this incident and others like it does underscore a more serious issue.
Racing is, more and more, becoming an international sport yet each local jurisdiction has its own rules, regulations and punishments – surely that cannot be right.
Can you imagine the chaos at the football World Cup if all the different associations played to their own set of rules?
Racing has become a truly international sport - it is time it had an international governing body with an internationally agreed set of rules and standard punishments.
Of course all the local “leaders” will fight this tooth and nail as it will mean losing power within their own personal fiefdoms.
As has been seen with steroids, as well as the Hughes and Dwyer cases, not forgetting the initial British Champions Day being mired by the controversy over the whip ban handed out to Christophe Soumilon for his ride on Cirrus Des Aigles, there is no standardisation at present.
Until there is a standardised set of rules, we in the UK are in no position to criticise the RWITC, to do so reeks of imperialist bullying and, frankly, we are in no position to lecture others until we get our own house in order.
Until there is a standardised set of rules how can racing be expected to be taken seriously as an international sport?