We are presenting a series of interviews with people inside racing and the affect the current Covid19 pandemic is having on their personal circumstances and the knock on affect within the racing industry.
Today we are talking to race horse owner Dave Armstrong, who’s horses include Yorkhill, Bellshill & Donnas Delight to name but a few. Dave talks openly about the Cheltenham Festival, how smaller owners are not kept in the loop, Prize money and how racing can restart….
Firstly, how are you doing with the current government restrictions?
Yes fine, just locked ourselves up. We are looking after ourselves and our horses.
Was it the right decision for the Cheltenham festival to go ahead and what are your thoughts on the media backlash?
I was surprised it went ahead and I was there on the Thursday for my runner, the backlash was wrong as the Champions League and public transport were not cancelled.
Why do you think you guys, as owners have been forgotten by the mainstream racing media?
I personally think their are not many owners who are prepared to stick their head above the parapet in fear of criticism. We are not all Middle Eastern Royalty or Stud owners with an endless amount of money, 90% of owners are working class and have had their income severely hit with the coronavirus lockdown.
With all the news of potential Group races being touted for the end of the month, where do the smaller owners group stand regarding the filling of the cards?
All the prize money from the top Group 1 races should be cut and divided amongst the lower end racing, the owners running in these G1s are owners who have no interest in the value of the race. Their thoughts are for stallion value only, For example Coolmore , Godolphin, Khalid Abdullah, Oppenheimer etc etc the list goes on.
Have you been kept in the loop with regular updates from the relevant authorities regarding the restrictions to racing and what this means for your horses in training?
NO, same regurgitated rhetoric coming out of the BHA and ROA (Race Owners Association)
In general, how are you keeping up to date with how your horses are faring, considering you cannot go visit them at their yards?
I am in the fortunate position to have 90% of my horses at home, where we have all the facilities to look after the them. I have withdrawn all my horses from training until I get a clear way forward.
What do the BHA need to do to protect the smaller owners if & when racing resumes?
They are the life-blood of the sport, wether it being at Wolverhampton on a wintry Friday night or Kelso in the middle of winter, not Royal Ascot, Epsom or Newmarket!!
Have you been given a date & are smaller owners given a voice in any conversations regarding a return?
Do you expect to race behind closed doors and how do you think this will affect prize money?
Personally I think some racecourse owners may use the coronavirus to their advantage and reduce prize money. As for racing behind close doors, any racing is better than none to kick start the sport back into life, for the sake of trainers jockeys and owners.
We would like to thank Dave for his time and his thoughts. We send Dave, his family & his horses our best wishes and we hope this will open up a conversation within racing, where the smaller owners are listened to more…
Interview by Rich Williams
Photo – Dave Armstrong (Twitter Account)