Germany leads boycott of Italy

Lurching from one crisis to another is nothing new for the Italian racing and breeding industries but the latest setback might be the final nail in its coffin.

England’s Racing Post website reports they are under the threat of extinction due to the Ministry of Agriculture blocking payment of all prizemoney from September to December 2012.

Italy’s major economic problems, and the fall of the government, means connections are not expected to see their share of prizemoney from that time-frame until at least 2014.

The Government explained it had “different priorities” and the knock-on effect has grave implications according to Federation of Racecourses secretary Guido Melzi d’Eril.  “The Ministry of Agriculture must respect their responsibility for the entire racing sector, to the individual companies and to the workers,” he said.  “Racing has been denied by decisions that go against all reasonable and fair working relationships.”

In a meeting last week, it was suggested 17 million euros might be released from the residual assets of the budget.  But no time frame was announced.

“Words must be followed by deeds,” d’Eril said.  “Last year, racing in Italy carried on thanks to the determination of the people employed in the industry even though many were not being paid their salaries.  Without that commitment the industry would not have kept going against the constant reduction of its income and a 50% cut in revenue.”

The German Jockey Club is leading calls for a boycott of Italian racing by the European Pattern Committee.  German owners haven’t received any prizemoney for the wins of Amaron (G1 Premio Vittorio di Capua), Novellist (G1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club Italiano) and Sortilege (G1 Premio Lydia Tesio) last year.

Italian racing would be crippled if stripped of its Group and Listed calendar.  “We received several promises that prizemoney would be paid but this did not happen,” German official Robert Engels said.  “We have informed our owners and they are upset.  We have also warned our owners about the risks involved entering their horses in Italy.”