The BHA, TROTBritain, BHRC and Chelmsford Racecourse – FAIL

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 The Racing Horse is looking forward to 22.22% of the horseracing meeting at the Betfred owned Chelmsford City All Weather track on Thursday 10th November 2016 where 'French Trotters' will strut their conceited gait following a mediocre 7-race thoroughbred card. It is envisaged there will be two full fields of 'Trotter Francaise LeTrot' and significantly all of these are trained in Britain. Both races will be held over a distance of one mile and one furlong on the Polytrack surface.

TROTBritain are the organisers of this first-ever event being staged under the floodlights on the same racing card with the thoroughbreds. The race meeting will be attended by dignitaries from LeTrot, the French governing body. They include Emmanuelle Morvillers and Marie-Anh Schwartz of the International Department of Le Trot, the Governing Body of French Trotting, Mme Marie France Wissocq (Member of the Le Trot Board) and Damien Beau Senior Le Trot Commissaire (Steward). Welcome to those people, we have already met Marie-Anh and hope all have a great day!



LeTROT is the company managing trot racing in France and they have been extremely cute in flooding Europe including Holland, Germany, Belgium, Lithuania, Spain, Italy, Malta and Ireland, with their excess stock, they have even got buyers from China checking out the sport. Can you imagine checking the result of the 3.30 at Beijing?


The "Trotter Francaise" is an official breed in its own right with strict breeding criteria. It first began in the early to mid-1800s where the Norman stock was crossed with English Thoroughbred and half-bred hunter types Norfolk Roadster and, some American Standardbred. Since conceiving its own breed France has become world leader in organising trotting races. More than 11,000 trotting races take place in France every year, which represents 61% of the total French races organised.


LeTROT supply the horses - normally aged or over handicapped horses that can no longer cut it with the best in France. They provide very competitive racing on other shores for reasonable prices and provide prize money subsidies as seed corn in the hope of making the sport strong enough in each country to be transmitted back into the Pari Mutuel. For example, Ireland will provide a full card of six races to the PMU next May for the first time and incidentally one of the French trotters recently broke the world record for two miles on a half-mile circuit, trotting the distance in 4min 5secs.

 Suffice it to say some of the trotters racing at Chelmsford will have won upward of 150,000euros in lifetime earnings and significantly more than most of the thoroughbreds on show on the same card. They should not be considered the poor relations yet they are!



The Racing Horse is duty bound to report an unpleasant aspect to this jamboree and that is the lack of help/encouragement from the BHA. Remember, these custodians claim several things in their mission, vision, culture and values remit. From our own experience with the organisation communicating with interested parties is not something they value. Try asking a question about horse welfare - they will not answer you. When forced to answer they will cut and paste a paragraph off their website thus evading the question or missing the point completely.


Given their custodian status it is important we examine their claims:

  • Together we will build a brighter future for our sport, our horses and our people.

  • We lead and co-ordinate activities which will ensure the overall health, development and growth of the industry.

  • In a forward-thinking environment that encourages collaboration, cohesion, commitment and confidence, the BHA provides leadership for British Horseracing that is protective of the deep traditions and proud history of the sport whilst guiding it towards a bright future.

  • The BHA, with a culture that respects and recognises the contributions and professionalism of its people, seeks to understand, be attentive to, and be proactive in addressing the needs of its participants and wider stakeholders

They also promise that they will strive to improve the health of British Racing, treat everyone fairly, stay in-tune with the sport and its diverse stakeholders and promote a forward-thinking and collaborative culture. This clearly does not include those of us who enjoy pacing and trotting and we have registered our dismay.

On this occasion the BHA refuse to let the owners and trainers share the stable area at Chelmsford even though each of the horses are fully vaccinated and micro-chipped. They are not welcome to stable on the track overnight so will have to make other arrangements. This is a disregard.



The Racing Horse contacted the BHA and asked if they could explain why those who own and train the French Trotters scheduled to run at Chelmsford on 10th November 2016 could not use the facilities and stables of the Chelmsford Racecourse? This is despite the fact that all the horses are fully vaccinated and micro-chipped. Why would the BHA not want to help promote another form of horse racing in the UK as it is contrary to their remit?

The answer was a little surprising as it inferred a most passive and regretful response from TROTBritain and the BHRC. They said: “We have spoken to Chelmsford City Racecourse who have informed me that the decision was made not to allow horses into the stable yard in full consultation with TROTBritain and the British Harness Racing Club (BHRC). Furthermore, TROTBritain informed Chelmsford City Racecourse that the horses are used to running from their horseboxes and as long as there was a wash down facility available to the horses there would not be any issues. Chelmsford have also opened their stable staff canteen to anyone accompanying the horses on the day. 



Obviously the big news is that the canteen will be open for the humans! The horses will have to camp out at the furlong pole Indian reservation style but at least one will be able to buy a subsidised bacon sandwich. On a more serious note we find it hard to believe that TrotBritain actually wanted horses to race competitively straight out of their horseboxes, it was the only offer! The sentence defies logic or explanation! A reliable source confirmed TROTBritain had no bargaining power and simply took what the racecourse had to offer in order to get BHA approval and that sounds much closer to the truth. They confirmed the same thing happened at Musselburgh on 10th September.


Pacers still represent the vast majority of harness racing horses in the UK but there are dyed-in-the-wool pacing folk who were embracing and getting involved with the Trotter Francaise series. Unfortunately because of the spaces that exist between TROTBritain, BHRC and the BHA one leading trainer in South Wales has (sadly) had a change of heart. He had every intention of buying a new batch of horses from France this winter but is now going to sell those he already has. This must be of concern to those of us who welcome the arrival of these lovely equines and to see them race!


Politically it is impossible to keep everyone happy and we appreciate that. The BHA want to protect their billion pound industry but still consider harness racing as illegitimate. Some think things are changing slowly so the best way to proceed is a small step at a time but The Racing Horse has never subscribed to the crumbs from the table mantra. Let's be clear, the BHA do not own horseracing, they are the custodians of it and their responsibility is to take care and protect – it is not to frustrate and deny! They ought to accept changes that are in the furtherance of horseracing of all codes.


All of us who love pacing and trotting are well aware of the negative side to the sport including its shady history and amateurishness but even that would benefit if the BHA embraced it. Cheats would not sign up, stewarding would become unified/better/fairer and one set of rules could be drawn up to those intending to participate under the BHA umbrella. The sport would rocket forward!


The Racing Horse think it's wonderful that the organisers have delivered this fantastic sport to the public and commend them, there has obviously been a lot of hard work in the process. We do question some of things that have been said. One of the organisers George Button said: “The officials at Chelmsford City are truly excited about having LeTrot races as part of their racing programme” but they if they are truly excited why are they refusing to talk to us about the programme - we want the meeting to be a success! He continued: “This historic event could not have happened without the enthusiasm and determination of the management of Chelmsford City Racecourse.” We are yet to witness that enthusiasm and determination and in our opinion is that sentence is nonsense and we take this opportunity to explain!


Before we posted our blog we made a last check on the Chelmsford City Racecourse website. This is EXACTLY what they said and please note the use of upper and lower case: "FIRST RACE 4:25, LAST RACE 7:25, FOLLOWED BY LIVE MUSIC BY NANCY CECELIA! Come & experience the thrill of all-weather racing under the floodlights. We are also hosting trotting after racing."


The Racing Horse believes the coverage of the Chelmsford Racecourse website show and prove how excited, historic, enthusiastic and determined they really are and their advert speaks volume with almost zero reference to the trotting. The coverage is virtually non-existent and makes a mockery of the above statements! There is more credence given to a girl singing in the bar after the last race than these beautiful trotters racing. This is a disgrace!

Clearly TROTBritain and to a lesser extent BHRC have fallen in with what the track management orders them just to get a bit of racing on. This is a shame. It does not detract from any efforts made, they are commendable but our view is that the pacing fraternity must be taken along with any future developments. Up to now there is nothing to suggest this is going to happen and LeTrot ploughing a lone furrow might not be the best solution?


We echo the organisers comments when he said: “These two races fittingly close out the 2016 LeTrot season and should be a real cracker. It is our hope at TROTBritain that these two races will have great exposure in all of the Betfred owned bookmaking shops and that SIS will transmit to other bookmaking outlets.”

If any reader has information pertaining to this fixture please contact so we can include in this piece. 

Today's Pacafi: click here
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