Jockeys wait in the weighroom as the first race is delayed
©Healy Racing Photos
By Alan Magee
Racing was delayed by nearly three-quarters-of-an-hour at Dundalk this evening due to a dispute over insurance cover for stalls’ handlers.
The first race eventually went ahead 44 minutes late after the handlers were given written assurance by HRI Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh that they had insurance cover to work this evening.
The dispute is believed to have originated from a stalls’ handler not receiving any payment since suffering shoulder and chest injuries when working at Cork last autumn.
Stalls’ handler representative Pat Keating and colleague John Lane had been in contact with HRI during the day attempting to gain a copy of the insurance policy showing they were fully covered.
HRI were unable to provide this documentation but a HRI representative gave a verbal assurance that insurance cover was in place.
Keating approached the Dundalk stewards about half an hour before racing to state this was unacceptable to the handlers, and that they were not prepared to work unless receiving written assurances from HRI regarding their level of insurance.
The stewards ordered that the first race, due off at 5.50pm, be delayed in an attempt to resolve the issue. They contacted Brian Kavanagh who provided written confirmation to the stewards and the handlers that they had full insurance cover.
On receipt of this confirmation, Keating informed the stewards that his colleagues would carry out their duties this evening, and racing eventually went ahead at 6.34pm.
“We were prepared to work this evening after getting written assurance from HRI but we will have further talks with them early next week to discuss the situation in greater detail” said Keating before adding, “I have a duty of care to our lads to make sure they are fully covered by insurance for the work they do. We need to have this situation fully resolved before the next meeting.”
Brian Kavanagh said, “As far as I’m concerned, there’s no uncertainty about insurance cover for the stalls’ handlers. There were discussions today between the handlers and HR Manager David Wright, and our staff were fully satisfied that the issue was resolved leaving the office. We were not anticipating any problems or any threat to racing.
“All of our staff are covered for every single meeting, and they received verbal confirmation earlier in the day.
“There are ways and procedures to deal with these things and this was not the way it should have been dealt with. I would just like to apologise for any inconvenience that was caused by the delay in racing. The matter will certainly be dealt with next week.”