Tribune libre – Future obstacles: does free enterprise require regulation?

horse racing / 04/08/2022

Pascal Adda

“In the economic world, the regulation of oligopolies is useful in ensuring the development of various sectors and maintaining a viable economic balance for participants (in racing, players – lack of starters – and owners).

Our equestrian sector in particular the discipline of obstacles, should he take the seed? The medium and short term survival of this discipline depends on it. The current report (2021 statistics) states that over 1,000 different horses have been trained by the five most important trainers in terms of “different horses raced”. This is almost 25% of the total workforce of 4,400 different horses that competed in the races. CQFD.

There have always been “giant” trainers, but with one significant difference, that pre-training centers did not exist or almost did not exist: Adele, Pela and others trained from 100 to 150 horses, but the latter arrived even earlier. their younger age and “turnover” per year was greatly reduced.

Since the 2000s, pre-training centers have flourished which, when used judiciously by our top trainers, allow them to “try out” 300 to 400 different horses or even more per year. Induced effects come in two levels:

“The concentration of generations of young horses leads to a much more difficult work of training to select the best. This may provide better selection for breeding, but is one of the main reasons for the lack of starter varieties.

– Concentration of jumping jockeys in these houses. When we know that the rider/horse pair is essential in show jumping and that training young horses requires real experience on the part of the riders, coaches with an average workforce struggle to find suitable jockeys. Very few are freelancers and can’t travel hundreds of miles to jump horses in training…and end up racing.

Of course, “house jockeys” exist, but they are either apprentices or jockeys, just as established as the first ones on the list, but less trendy because they have fewer and fewer opportunities to prove themselves. The owners want all jockeys to be “in shape” and they can’t be blamed for that. Thus, when our jockeys make their racing debut and then explain to them that they will not be replanted, nothing could be more discouraging for everyone.

Beware of the accelerating negative spiral that is already in place and discouraging a large number of owners (the number of galloping horses dropped from over 5,600 to around 4,400 between 2009 and 2021 – in a dozen years!).

The current coaches, their owners and our managers are sane enough to understand and accept that if we don’t turn the tide very quickly, even they are in danger of disappearing due to lack of starting/games.

So what are the solutions?

A bold move would be to limit the number of different horses per year per trainer. Some will say the nominees will thrive. I don’t believe it. Or at least not in the medium term. Even if these trainers still keep many horses in the training centers, they will have to consult with their owners to select those who will enter their boxes. They will have to advise their clients on how to place other horses with their colleagues.

This would allow other experienced trainers and young trainers to have more horses, become famous and so on. At the same time, younger jockeys and other underused senior jockeys will see a brighter future, and the rider recruitment crisis may be less acute.

The concentration of labor exists in the Anglo-Saxon countries, with the same risk of disgust of owners with an average workforce. The tree that hides their forest is called unions, very numerous throughout the English Channel, but also very unstable if there are no results.

Other solutions probably exist in terms of race conditions, but there are URGENT NECESSITY.

If the parent company does not offer prospects to current owners or the futures we call for, then we will go round in circles before we drown.

I label myself as a pessimist, but on the contrary, I remain an optimist given the enthusiasm of the younger generation.

But the sovereign role of the institution is to create a reliable, balanced and positive environment! »

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