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The Australian Trainers Association (ATA) and the Victorian Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association (TROA) strongly oppose Racing Victoria’s plan to abolish the existing free nominations system and impose non acceptance fees.

Victoria has had a system of free nominations at no cost to owners and trainers since 2007, whereas other states such as NSW and Queensland do not. All states, including Victoria, charge scratching fees to withdraw a horse after acceptances. 

Owners are the major investor in the Racing Industry and provide the horses on which people bet. Extra costs and inconvenience for owners will have a negative impact on horse investment and field sizes. Trainers work long hours in a tough and risky business environment, but receive substantially less funding from RVL than is set aside for jockeys and animal welfare.

TROA Chairman, Jonathan Munz said:

“This RVL proposal is an ill-conceived money grab, where the relatively small amount they are trying to reclaim will cause major inconvenience to trainers and create unnecessary friction. One leading trainer described the proposal to me as “petty” and “pointless” and that is the overwhelming view.  RVL has tried to justify its position by saying that other states charge fees, but it makes no sense to copy an inferior model and now is not the time to be jamming owners with extra costs. I know for a fact that John Messara was looking to introduce a free nominations system similar to Victoria for NSW before he retired as Chairman of Racing NSW and his opinions are highly respected. I am seeing this recent RVL proposal as coming from the accountants at RVL who don’t really understand racing and how the industry should operate. We have approached the new RVL CEO, Andrew Jones, to review the proposal and hopefully we can get some common sense.”

“There also seems to be a lack of institutional memory at RVL – we already provided a cash trade off when the current system was introduced when we agreed to a doubling of the scratching fee and the abolition of the unplaced starter rebate.”

“Money spent on a few RVL staff working in the background to process nominations makes much more sense than creating extra work and expense for trainers and owners and undermining the efficiency of trainers’ race programming. The rationale offered by RVL of corporate bookmakers not wanting to do early form for large numbers of nominated horses and the need to facilitate (tiny amounts of) early betting before acceptances and barriers is just nonsense. The same goes for the spurious argument around trying to get greater certainty in relation to balloting of lower rated horses, which is more a race programming issue.”

ATA CEO, Andrew Nicholl said:

“The Victorian system provides a competitive advantage to Victorian owners and trainers and was introduced 15 years ago to reduce administrative red tape and costs by reducing hundreds of thousands of small invoice charges sent by RVL to trainers and by trainers to owners. In addition, the freedom to multi nominate for different races without financial penalty is recognised by trainers as an essential management tool. Trainers want to place their horse to the best advantage and also want time to see how a horse is fitness and welfare wise, so a few days can make a material difference. Also if meetings are called off because of bad weather or otherwise, you lose less time if you have other race nominations on foot and that is important in maintaining a time sensible and efficient programme, where race targets flow into each other and also to provide a return to owners.”

“If RVL want to consider a more constructive approach to this issue, the ATA will arrange for a group of trainers to meet with them, and explain how they manage programming, and to see if there are acceptable ways to reduce the level of nomination administration, appreciating that THE overriding consideration needs to be the performance and welfare of horses, the efficiency and optimisation of their race programming, and in general, what represents the “greater good” for our trainers and Owners, both of whom underpin the lion’s share of  investment into Victorian racing.”