Trainers are an integral part of the thoroughbred racing industry.
They are a window into the industry for the Owners they represent, the syndicators they joint venture with, staff they employ, the service providers they contract with, to those that wager and more broadly, for the public at large.
Accordingly, there are expectations on how a trainer should conduct himself or herself in the course of operating their business.
The Australian Trainers’ Association (ATA), like many comparable organisations representing a body of skilled professionals, has developed a values-based policy that promotes a set of core behaviours for its members.
Termed OUR VALUES, adopting these behaviours will help members meet both industry, and the broader community expectations.
OUR VALUES asks a member to:
• maintain the HIGHEST STANDARDS OF INTEGRITY,
• achieve superior EQUINE WELFARE practice,
• exhibit PROFESSIONALISM by and with your conduct,
• engender TRUST and CONFIDENCE in those with whom you engage, &
• contribute to the PROSPERITY & GROWTH of the industry
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Trainers’ Association
1. The Horse
Universally, trainers do, and must continue to, place the interests of their horses as their first priority.
Trainers need ensure that for horses under their care, be they in stables directly under their control or at another place at the trainers behest, they are given appropriate shelter, food, water and care, including the necessary veterinary attention and treatment as required, to ensure their health & welfare remains at the highest standard possible.
Aftercare responsibilities – when a horse finishes their racing career – also forms an integral part of the racing stables obligation. This should be managed in a manner that satisfies the Rules of Racing, together with any & all other legal, and ethical, considerations.
Trainers engage daily with a wide range of individuals and/or organisations in the course of operating their business, including:
• Suppliers and Service Providers
• Officials and Regulators
• Race Clubs
• Media; and the
• Community at large
In dealing with these parties, trainers should act at all times with integrity, fairness, and honesty, and conduct the activity or communication in a respectful, proper and transparent manner.
In particular, for the following parties:
Staff have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
In the racing industry, which is sometimes hazardous by its very nature, every reasonable precaution must be taken by an employer to ensure their safety. Staff should also receive appropriate training to ensure they are able to carry out the duties allocated to them, both safely and satisfactorily.
Staff should also receive appropriate remuneration in accordance with their conditions of employment – ATA members have access to specialised Industrial Relations expertise, and should utilise this to ensure they remain compliant with Award and industrial obligations i.e.: Fair Work;
Unacceptable behaviours in the workplace, including discrimination, bullying and/or sexual harassment, MUST not be tolerated in any form. Positive and demonstrable steps need to be taken to satisfy yourself that unacceptable behaviours are not occurring in your workplace!
The cornerstone of any relationship with Owners is honesty, integrity, fairness and accountability. Additionally, you need to ensure your actions are not tainted by conflict of interest, actual or perceived.
Owners should be kept well informed on ALL matters associated with their thoroughbred/s. This should be offered in a timely and regular manner, and in an easily understood format (written/electronic/verbal). Any concerns raised by an Owner should be dealt with and resolved as soon as possible.
The Community at Large
Trainers must ensure that their actions do not bring the industry into disrepute. With the ever-increasing social and ethical expectations being placed on the industry by the wider community – often referred to as ‘social license’- it is incumbent on Trainers that they move with the times and meet any reasonable and evolving contemporary standard.
Compliance with the Rules of Racing, and behaving in a manner that aligns with these values, will go a long way towards removing the potential for any damaging or negative public sentiment to be directed towards yourself, or to the industry in general.
3. Organisations & Authorities – The Rules of Racing
Rules of Racing
The Rules of Racing (RoR) regulate the actions and activities of a licensed trainer. Developed over many years, the RoR number nearly 300 individual rules; they continue to be adapted or added to every year as required.
Racing Australia, the racing industries national regulatory body, is responsible for managing the Australian RoR.
As well as protecting the reputation of the industry and instilling confidence in the wider community, the RoR provide a framework for the protection of the individual participants.
Rules include those that deal with participant integrity & behaviour, animal welfare, training, trial and race day operations, prohibited substances and disciplinary/appeal considerations, to name a few of those that are particularly key for our Trainers.
All Trainers are required to understand their obligations specific to the Australian RoR (together with any Local Rules enacted by the state and territory based Principal Racing Authorities (PRAs).
It is a fundamental responsibility for a licensed Trainer to comply with the RoR at all times, particularly as breaches can result in financial penalties and, in severe cases, disruption to the training business via suspension or disqualification of a training license.
Officials with delegated responsibility to administer the RoR include National and State based organisations, to individuals. For example, these include industry regulators, judicial bodies such as tribunals or appeal boards, through to race day officials including stewards, all of who hold wide-ranging powers in this area.
Trainers should be mindful that ALL officials (bodies and individuals) carry an onus to uphold the integrity of the industry at all times, and therefore, are entitled to be treated with courtesy, consideration and respect when discharging that duty.
It is vital accordingly, that trainers are straightforward and honest in their dealings with these bodies and individuals.
4. Communications & Financial Responsibilities
Trainers widely communicate as part of their business; with their Owner base, the media, syndicators, service providers, industry participants including jockeys and their managers, bloodstock companies, race clubs and with the various authorities.
At all times, trainers should be straightforward, honest and fair in their dealings.
• Social Media
Social media is a popular medium used by trainers for communication purposes e.g.: bloodstock sales, race day information, social contact, etc. Trainers should respect the power of this medium, and the impact its use, or mis-use (as the case may be), can have on the individual, the stable, other Trainers and the industry in general.
The RoR extend to oversee the use of this medium by licensed participants. Penalties can be applied by stewards for mis-use. There are also general laws that have application to social media activities, examples include defamation and slander laws.
Trainers should ensure their use of this medium is for positive, factual expression and communication; anything less and they run the risk of incurring one or more of a fine, loss of business, loss of reputation and/or in extreme cases, suspension, loss of license and/or prosecution under civil, consumer, privacy social media laws.
Trainers MUST have full accountability in relation to all financial transactions involving their stable. Owner enquiries in particular, with respect to outgoing billings or payments, should be managed in a timely, open and candid manner.
Trainers should adopt a number of basic principles.
In considering any action or activity, simply ask yourself:
• Is it fair, reasonable and honest?
• Is the welfare, health and safety of the thoroughbred protected?
• Does this action comply with the Rules of Racing?
• Would my fellow Trainers consider this acceptable practice and behaviour?
• Am I satisfied that my actions will not reflect poorly on, or harm the reputation of, the racing industry?
• Will my actions meet contemporary community expectations?
The ATA stands in support of its members; and while many of our efforts are directed toward individual trainers to help them address a situational difficulty, far more of what we do is strategic, and designed to benefit the Training Profession as a whole.
Underpinning your daily actions and activities using OUR VALUES will not only have a positive effect on you personally and your business, it will reflect well on the training profession. It will also help us to collectively build something tangible; broad respect for “who we are” and “what we do”.
Should you have any comments in relation to OUR VALUES policy, please let us know through your local branch of the ATA, or direct your comments to the ATA Federal Office in Melbourne c/- the CEO.