Arena Leisure racing director Ian Renton admitted he would be “terribly disappointed” if there was a jockeys strike in support of RaceTech’s stall handlers.
Jockeys are threatening to boycott all of Arena Leisure’s seven tracks in protest at potential cost-cutting measures, which could see experienced stalls handlers replaced with what they consider to be “untrained” staff.
Arena Leisure, who will stage a quarter of Britain’s race meetings next year and own the monopoly on Flat racing throughout the winter months, broke ranks with the rest of British racing last month when stating they would employ their own stalls handlers at the group’s three all-weather tracks in a bid to cut costs.
To that end, RaceTech, who employ a workforce of around 50 people, could be faced with serving redundancy notices to several stalls handlers.
Jockeys are not only concerned about their safety once Arena have implemented this new system, but have also threatened to walk out in protest at the treatment of the stalls handlers.
However, Renton moved to allay fears that jockeys’ lives will be put at risk by Arena’s new stalls’ teams, who are due to commence work at Wolverhampton on August 22.
“Jockeys’ safety is absolutely paramount here and no corners will be cut,” he told Channel 4Sport. “
Everything will be looked at to ensure the safety of jockeys is improved and the stalls handling is improved.
“The jockeys will be familiar with the faces. We are talking at length to Dale Gibson and other jockeys to reassure them that we will have experienced handlers and they will be further improved.
“We will train these people further so they will have experience above that they gained at RaceTech.
“We want to be in the position to provide a dedicated team of experience professionals at all our all-weather courses who can work with us throughout the year.
“I would be terribly disappointed if the jockeys considered striking over the introduction of a team of experienced and dedicated stalls handlers who have the intention of improving the service to the jockeys.”