Lingfield down to 17 runners in six races after Arena Racing boycott

Lingfield Park races
Lingfield held the Winter Derby last month

A total of just 17 runners remain in six races for Wednesday's meeting at Lingfield amid an ongoing row over prize money.

Trainer Ralph Beckett encouraged racing professionals to boycott meetings at Arena Racing Company (ARC) tracks for three days this week.

Industry leaders had reached a temporary agreement last weekend to maintain prize money at 2018 levels.

Three of the six races at the all-weather track will have two runners.

Similarly, a maximum of just 27 horses will line up at Fontwell on Wednesday, with one of the six races containing only two runners.

Jockey Racheal Kneller said on Twitter: "One of the hardest decisions I've ever made was to turn down rides at Lingfield and Southwell this week...turning down opportunities and riding fees is not a decision I took lightly, nor the other guys either.

"I hope this boycott makes a difference because we are all suffering here."

But Danny Brock, who has been booked for six mounts, defended his decision to ride.

"It's my decision and I feel it's the right one for me," he said.

Trainers and owners have been frustrated at the recent cuts to prize money at ARC tracks as the operator prepares for an expected shortfall in the levy it receives from betting takings because of shop closures following the government's decision to lower the maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2.

ARC committed to unlocking extra money for all eligible races in March, but former all-weather champion trainer Nick Littmoden branded the situation a "shambles".

Littmoden has failed to secure a jockey for one of his two runners at the meeting, with Torino currently without a rider.

"I want to run the horse if I can find a jockey, but it's a big 'if'," Littmoden said.

"I received an email on Sunday from the National Trainers Federation saying that following the agreement with ARC on Saturday, there would be no further boycotting this month, but that is obviously not the case.

"After receiving the email I thought that would be the end of it for now, but it isn't. I think it's a shambles, to be honest."

Further discussions between ARC and key industry figures are due to take place on Tuesday.

Beckett added in a statement on Monday: "We look forward to constructive negotiations in the coming days and weeks, and hope that ARC and the RCA (Racecourse Association) will now be open and transparent, so that together we can help secure the future of British Racing with a funding model that works for all."

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