The National Hunt racing community on both sides of the Irish Sea has reacted in unison to criticise and condemn calls made by Grand National-winning trainer Dr Richard Newland to issue a blanket ban on Irish-trained horses competing in British races.

In an article published by Racing TV, Dr Newland suggested an exception could be made for Cheltenham, where Irish trainers could enter one horse each, but shouldn’t be allowed run their horses on the British programme and that Horse Racing Ireland should be made to reimburse the British Horseracing Authority with the prize money accrued by Irish-trained horses, this year totalling over £10 million.

Dr Newland’s prompting to write the article stemmed from a statement issued by BHA chief executive Julie Harrington, who on the Saturday after another dominant Cheltenham Festival for Irish horses (scoreline 18-9) said, “British racing must act swiftly to improve the quality of National Hunt horses bred, owned and trained in Britain.”

No restrictions

Prominent British trainer Nicky Henderson told The Irish Field on Saturday: “There should be no restrictions and that’s that. I believe this is a cyclical thing and the momentum will swing back to Britain at some point.

“There are plenty of good horses in Britain. Some owners are deciding to have good horses trained in Ireland and it’s for different reasons. I don’t think there is one overriding issue and I don’t think the BHA can do anything about it.”

You have to go back to 2015 to find the last time British-trained horses had more winners than the Irish at Cheltenham. An even more stark insight to the current balance of power is likely to come in the Grand National at Aintree next week. Currently there are only five British-trained horses guaranteed a run in the race - an unfathomable scenario only 10 years ago.

Willie Mullins has led the way for Irish dominance, attracting some of the biggest owners in the game, of which a significant portion are British. Gordon Elliott and Henry de Bromhead have followed to a lesser extent but seen plenty of success for British owners also. Prize money in Ireland is perceived to be better than in Britain but success at Cheltenham is perhaps the defining reason that prominent British owners have decided to forgo having their horses trained at home, in order to attain the services of the best Irish trainers.