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Handlers Association draws big crowd for annual meeting

Handlers Association draws big crowd for annual meeting

There was a meeting of the Handlers Association at the Horse & Jockey Hotel on Wednesday evening, October 10th.

It was a well-attended meeting with many handlers supporting the evening. Champion handler Colin Bowe was joined from Wexford by Donnchadh Doyle, Denis Murphy, Sean Doyle and John Paul Brennan.

In-form handler Peter Flood, who saddled three winners on Sunday at Castletown, was also in attendance, as was Virginia Considine, Paurick O’Connor, Tom Keating, Aidan Fitzgerald, Pat Doyle, Sam Curling, and Brian Mortell. While from Cork, Jimmy Mangan, Robert Tyner, Sean Aherne, and Batt O’Connell attended, as did Cathy Hamilton and Joey Casey among a well-supported affair.

The meeting began with a Chairman’s address where Gerry Kelleher reminded attendees that the organisation was only two years old and strives to represent the requirements of all the handlers. Good progress has been made in opening communication on behalf of the handlers with IHRB, HRI and Government on all items including funding, prize money and various rule suggestions.

The issue of four-year-old maidens was discussed in detail and concern was voiced from all quarters that any changes to the existing programme could have a detrimental effect on the industry as a whole, and not just the point-to-point sector.

A topic that was raised at last year’s meeting, the ability of a handler to secure a license to enter horses in hunter chases and point-to-point bumpers, was once again part of the discussion, with hopes from many in attendance that this can be finalised in the very near future, with the first hunter chase of the season just a matter of weeks away.  

The recent increase to prize money was appreciated by those in attendance, but given this is still below levels of a few years ago, it was felt by many that there may be scope to rise it further to those levels at a minimum.



The difficulty of young riders getting a licence was a notable point made by many handlers. Whilst the increase in novice rider opportunities was welcomed, it was agreed that the cost and time it took to get a young rider licensed, was forcing some out of the game. The ability to assist young riders in terms of the time it takes and the money required should be looked at as a matter of urgency in the views of the handlers.

Going reports in advance of entry time from the hunt clubs would be welcomed by handlers.

Races dividing, whilst not a regular occurrence, has been considered an issue in recent seasons. Potential for abuse, whereby a phantom declaration is added needs to be safe guarded, but it was noted that trainers on the track know how many are in a race before declaring and this information should be made known in as much as is possible to assist the decision making processes of handlers. Handlers made it clear that they were keen to work with the IHRB towards a solution for all parties on this.

The Chairman noted that a representation of handlers had met with the IHRB and referred some suggestions which had been made to the meeting and feedback was forthcoming from the floor.

Under any other business, some concerns were raised that UK rule changes were potentially likely to affect Irish point-to-points. These included qualification guidelines for UK hunter chases for both horses and riders, and qualification issues for running in UK point-to-points when coming from an Irish point-to-point.
 

 

 


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