The Italian racing industry, already in crisis over its failure to pay out prizemoney, could face worsening problems after authorities warned the country’s races could lose their Group status.
“What’s happening in Italy is a tragedy and everyone despairs of the situation,” European Pattern Race Committee Chairman Brian Kavanagh said. “I have complained in writing to the racing and government authorities in Italy, and Louis Romanet (Chairman of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities) wrote to them in October on behalf of the IFHA advising them that the current situation could not continue.
“We have had some contact back from Italy saying attempts are being made to pay money owned. However, it is questionable whether there is even a functioning racing authority in Italy, as racing is now overseen by the Department of Agriculture.”
The situation is to be examined at the next EPRC meeting on January 16 although Kavanagh said he suspects any changes wouldn’t take place until 2015. At the same time, the British Horseracing Authority has recently put in place requirements for any Italian competitors in British races to pay up front.
The BHA has also advised Weatherbys to discontinue advertising and accepting entries for Italian races. “This is the ultimate sanction, one that would be applied very reluctantly,” Kavanagh said. “Italy has a proud racing tradition, and nobody wants to see something like this happen to a European country, but there comes a point where writing letters is no longer enough.”