Letter to the Editor: Gunnar Nordqvist

Sarah Andrew

In response to the article of Patrick Cooper in the TDN, I would like to share the situation in France with your readers.

As usual, Mr. Cooper is highly entertaining and at the same time deadly serious. The universal problem in racing and elsewhere is lack of staff. Each country has their own specific problems. France, where I reside, is even more hamstrung than other countries. We have probably the best funded apprentice school in the world. (The only jurisdiction I can not find any information from is Japan.) France has its apprentice school, AFASEC, that is funded by France Galop and the Standardbred racing Authority (SECF) to the princely sum of €25-million per year.

One would think that with investment we would not lack from staff shortages, nor enough pupils in the system, but on the contrary. There is a grave lack of staff, and apprentices whose riding skills are doubtful at the best. The AFASEC organisation are IMPORTING riders from India, Khirgizstan, Khazakstan etc., countries who are OUTSIDE the European Union (EU), meaning that there are very rigorous, expensive and extremely elaborate rules for those arriving.

Once the “imported” staff are working in a stable, there is no help from AFASEC, who brought them into France, and every trainer is at the mercy of the French administration. Apparently trainers will have to accept that their “new staff” go to civic lessons in the morning, not riding horses! It is a complete aberration and frightfully costly for those trainers who are forced to take on staff like that.

It does show how different each country is in dealing with staff shortages.

 

Best Regards,

Gunnar Nordqvist, Breeder, France

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