James Ewart Racing

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by James Ewart Racing's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from James Ewart Racing is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Director and trainer JamesEwart
View of tapeta and
sand gallops
As director of a National Hunt training business, James
Ewart is a professional trainer whose aim is to produce
equine athletes that can compete at the top of their
capabilities. The company have 45 horses which are owned by
a large range of individuals, partnerships and syndicates – with
those taking part in ownership being drawn from a broad cross-
section of society. What is required in this industry – ethically
and operationally – this is a subject Director James Ewart tells
The Parliamentary Review
more about.
We are a small training establishment competing against many much larger that
can have upward of 200 horses as well as a great number of smaller trainers.
Unlike some businesses, our goal is not growth at all costs. Instead, we concentrate
on nurturing the equine athlete with enormous attention to detail and always with
that horse’s welfare at heart.
Our role as a company
We are passionate about our racehorses and operate with the belief that every
horse should have a full career in racing (and a proper retirement). If, however,
this does not occur, we find alternative opportunities for them in dressage, show
jumping or as a family horse.
Our own ethos is to make the very best of each horse in our care, which involves
tailor-made training procedures and correct choice of races. Our team consistently
win the best-turned-out award at races, which is an outward sign of the horse’s
»Director and Trainer:
»Founded in 2004
»Located in Langholm in the
Scottish Borders
»Services: Dual purpose Trainer,
predominantly National Hunt
»No. of horses: 50
»No. of employees: 15
»Extra facts: Has 50 loose
boxes, four gallops and 30
acres of paddocks as well as
offices and isolation boxes
James Ewart Racing
Highlighting best practice
health and wellbeing. Our percentage
of winners to runners stands at 16
per cent, with 33 per cent of runners
coming second or third.
Rural employment is shrinking, but we
have managed to buck this trend. Not
only do we employ 14 full-time staff,
mainly between the ages of 16 and 24,
but we are also, in our isolated area,
the largest employer – and, indeed,
possibly the only employer with an
increasing labour requirement. We also
use blacksmiths, veterinary surgeons,
equine physiotherapists and dental
experts, as well as feed suppliers, tack
suppliers and repairers .
The ins and outs of training
At 5am, the horses are fed by our
head lad and then, from 6am to
10am, the stables are mucked out as
the horses are exercising on the horse
walker. The horses are then ridden
out in different groups depending on
their requirements – this can involve
walking and trotting or using one
of our various gallops. The trainer,
whose knowledge and expertise is key,
oversees all the detail that this involves.
Lunch is at 1.30pm, and the yard is left
quiet for the afternoon before staff
return at 4pm. To end, the final feed
of the day commences at 7.30pm.
The hard graft is done at home
as the athlete progresses to the
racecourse, but there is careful liaison
and consultation with owners . We
frequently welcome owners to the
yard, sometimes unannounced, as this
is the best way to follow each horse’s
progress. On any given day, there
may be a horse (or horses) at one or
Growth and development as
a business
We started training in 2004 with a full
licence and a string of eight horses at
the family farm in the Scottish Borders.
My father, Neil, had previously held
a permit to train a limited number
of horses but had not developed the
facilities required for a full licence.
Since then, we have built an excellent
infrastructure for our current team
of around 50 horses, and we now
have outstanding facilities, but this
has involved capital expenditure
of £750,000. We are, however,
hampered by the tightness of our
margins, and although we have plans
to further improve our facilities, we
need to increase income and come to
terms with the very real problems of
our industry, particularly in the north.
Returning from work
Every horse an
employment is
shrinking, but
we have
managed to
buck this
Problems faced by the trainer
and the industry
The key problem facing the industry
is funding which is too little and fails
to filter through to the lower tiers of
racing, thus it hampers the growth of
the industry and the future for staff
and horses. This is handled by the
British Horseracing Association but is
overcomplex and lacks transparency.
At present, the owners carry nearly
all the costs, except at the very upper
levels where higher prize money and
appearance money are attainable.
While racing exists on a starvation diet,
the bookmaker (whose turnover on
horseracing alone totals £13.9 billion),
the racecourse and the media are
making many billions out of the sport,
for which a current levy or moiety of
£94.7 million is paid to the BHA – this
levy is set to decrease . Without horses,
there would be much reduced business
for bookmaker and racecourse.
The basic cost to the owner of a
National Hunt horse’s appearance
is estimated to be £5,000 per run,
except at the highest level. Average
prize money to the winner is around
£4,000, with a minority of horses
winning £20,000 or more per annum.
No sport can prosper where there is
no appearance money and inadequate
prize money (in France, by contrast,
there is both, and prize money is
double, attracting quality horses and
more runners). This falls into the wider
trend of profit going to the few,
which in turn has led to corners being
cut and a reduction in the quality of
welfare for our staff and horses.
In terms of welfare, the racecourse
ground is fundamental, for both horse
and jockey. The problem is highlighted
by frequent inaccurate forecasting
of ground conditions by racecourses
preceding a race meeting. The National
Hunt horse requires ground no firmer
than good or good-to-soft. The slower
the ground, the less likelihood of injury
to horse and jockey. To keep ground in
excellent condition, high maintenance
costs are incurred (particularly in
relation to watering). A commercial
racecourse does often cut these costs,
so an industry guideline – supervised
by an independent authority –
At present, our stables are staffed by
more than 80 per cent women, who
need encouragement to compete with
boys to be jockeys – we must give
them a weight allowance of three
pounds when competing against men,
as happens in France.
There is also wastage in racing
from the pool of racehorses by
handicapping. The current system is
outdated and has too wide a margin
of error. In the computer age, a simple,
more equitable process is possible,
handicapping by prize money won (as
France proves).
The BHA must listen and move
forward, leading and making difficult
decisions. Our whole industry depends
on careful and sensible modernisation,
which must be applied nationally as
well as in the trainer’s yard.
The key
facing the
industry is
Michael Dickinson and
James discuss his all
weather gallop tapeta


This article was sponsored by James Ewart Racing. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster