Ritz, Dorchester or Marriott, Mr Tinkler?

Haulage firm boss and racehorse owner Andrew Tinkler might have known he would cause a stir when he removed all but one of his horses from trainers in Newmarket. He cited value for money considerations in the cost of training fees as his reason for placing them elsewhere.

His argument is that trainers there are at Premier League prices, so he expects his horses to reach at least Group class to merit such high fees. What Tinkler didn’t make clear was that his comments were directed primarily at the stables of Sir Henry Cecil, Sir Michael Stoute, Marco Botti and William Haggas, where he has had horses that he presumably believes have the quality to earn black type, but just haven’t delivered.

These yards typically charge in the region of £75 a day. But Newmarket has another 70 or so trainers where fees are lower. Gaye Kellaway, for example, was irritated by Tinkler’s claim and said, “It niggled me when I heard Andrew Tinkler had said our training fees were 30% higher than elsewhere. I thought ‘He should come here and I’ll show him value.’ I charge £40 a day and I have not increased my charges for four years. I’ve got my own lorry to keep my costs down and I like to think I do my horses as well as Michael Stoute and Henry Cecil because they get the best feed, the best farriers, the best staff, the best of everything.”

In a sense, both are right. Most of the trainers in Newmarket do charge less than those Kellaway describes as the Ritz and Dorchester of the town, rather than her own Marriott. Yet the latest figures from a Racehorse Owners’ Association survey carried out in 2010 showed that average training costs for flat racehorses in Newmarket were £20,307 a year (£55 a day), against £17,465 (£48 a day) in Lambourn and ‘just’ £13,587 (£37 a day) in Yorkshire.

Tinkler is footing the bill for his animals, so of course he’s entitled to have them trained by whom he wants. But wherever he moves them, if they aren’t good enough, they won’t win the races he’s hoping for. And no amount of money in the most expensive stables will change that.

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