Richard Brankley

Ladbrokes tracks Crayford and Monmore have agreed to pay open race trainers ‘runner money’ in all their opens from January.

The ‘£15 a runner’ move has been sanctioned by Head of Stadia Richard Brankley and follows years of complaints from non-contracted trainers that they are treated unfairly at tracks across the country.

Basically, contracted trainers at most of the major stadia are paid a bonus for every runner, (in addition to prize money) in graded and open races.

The result means that in an open race, the locally contracted trainers may receive the bonus, but the visiting trainers do not.

Star columnists Mark Wallis and Pat Rosney have repeatedly criticised the system.Wallis highlighted the absurdity whereby he would be asked by racing offices to supply runners to help fill opens, knowing that he would be paid runner bonus if he raced them at home track Towcester, but not at the tracks who he was helping out.

Brankley said: “I thought that the trainers’ rep Pete Harnden made a very strong case in his column on the Star website and I have since had a chance to discuss it with him. I also took on board his call for more help in schooling pups and we will be introducing that in the new year too. At this stage I think it will on Wednesdays at Monmore.”

So does he think that other tracks will follow suit?

Brankley replied: “I have no idea. Certainly our prize money had fallen behind the Corals tracks who may not have that scope since they already pay the best open race prize money in the industry – £250 to open winners.”

A jubilant Harnden said: “It is superb news. It is great to see that if you approach track managements in the right way, you can make progress. This will make a big difference to the finances of trainers taking open race runners.

“I hope the trainers respond in a positive manner and more tracks follow suit.”

Brankley also confirmed that he would retain some flexibility in his open race options, should a new SKY deal be agreed.

The 2018 Ladbrokes Puppy Derby is scheduled for March Wednesdays 7th, 14th and 21st with the final set for an afternoon SIS meeting.

The prize money is identical to recent years with £12,500 to the winner plus significant sums throughout. It is open to April ’16 whelps and younger.

Brankley said: “We are happy to go with Wednesday afternoon but if a deal was done in the meantime, we would certainly consider changing the dates, subject to agreement with GBGB. At this stage though, I am yet to hear anything to suggest it is likely.”