By Jack Cantillon
John Oxx and Patrick Prendergast announcing that they are joining training forces has rightly been received to great acclaim. The combination of the trainer of Sea The Stars (Ire) with the man who expertly guided last year’s Cartier 2-Year-Old Filly Award winner Skitter Scatter (Scat Daddy) will bring a new dimension to racecourses in 2019 and beyond.
However, it was a timely reminder of a bizarre wrinkle of racing bureaucracy–if you want to run a stable in partnership and have it recognised on the racecard, you had better pack your bags and head to Australia. While I don’t know if Patrick would rather not have been forced to relinquish his license this coming February in order to join forces with John Oxx, what we do know is in British and Irish racing he, wrongly, didn’t have a choice.
The frequent refrain heard from racing authorities in maintaining the status quo on no training partnerships is the issue of liability. If we are to have multiple trainers, who do we attach legal liability upon for the care of the stable? The simple answer is joint trainers should have ‘joint and several’ liability for the care of their stable. This concept would not only solve the liability issue once and for all, but would actually strength the integrity of the stable as not one but two individuals would be held accountable for the stable’s actions.
A bank manager will always be happier having a guarantor on a loan in addition to the individual borrower through the ‘joint and several’ liability nature of the loan agreement and yet racing authorities as of yet can’t get their head around the stark benefit of training partnerships. In the era of the ‘super trainer’ and the smaller operation, what better way for the squeezed middle to fight back than trainer partnerships–spreading the financial risk and widening their collective skill set.
Think of the exciting complementary possibilities. The quiet genius horseman with the extrovert charmer. The self-sustaining breeder-trainer combining with a young trainer that has shown a talent with temperamental fillies. In creating an enticing product for owners to believe in against competition with super trainers, we have to think again and address a gaping need with this simple solution.
Quit the Skitter Scatter nonsense racing authorities, it’s time to sea the sense.