Sunday walkover at Sedgefield in latest stance against Arena Racing Company prize money

Donald McCain hit out at Arena Racing Company's prize-money levels after declaring the sole runner in a race at Sedgefield on Sunday, as the Durham track became the latest to be hit by a boycott from trainers.

ARC announced in December it was cutting back on its prize-money contributions as the operator prepares for an expected shortfall in the levy because of betting shop closures following the Government's decision to lower the maximum FOBT stake from £100 to £2.

This decision has been met with dismay by many trainers and the situation came to a head last weekend after two races at Lingfield were boycotted - with no runners declared in one and Nick Littmoden's Greybychoice enjoying a walkover in another.

In a temporary move, ARC announced on Thursday it was reallocating prize-money to increase funds in the lower-grade races, but that move has not appeased everyone in the training fraternity - with Classic-winning trainer Ralph Beckett calling on his fellow trainers to boycott meetings at ARC tracks for three days next week.

And now trainers have combined to stage an unexpected boycott at Sedgefield this weekend, with Wasowski - owned and trained by McCain - the only horse in the Watch Sky Sports Racing In HD Handicap Hurdle from 23 original entries, meaning another walkover.

McCain said: "I've been asked to support it (the boycott) and I have.

"This not just a new thing. ARC haven't been putting enough money into the game for many years - it's shameful."

Wasowski's presence ensures ARC will have to pay out the total prize fund of £3,500 - and McCain confirmed the money will be donated to the Injured Jockeys Fund's Jack Berry House in Malton.

McCain only returned to action on Wednesday after his yard was placed on lockdown for three weeks following the outbreak of equine influenza - which was first found at his Cheshire base on February 6.

He added: "I'm in a position where I need to run horses - I've been out of the game for a long time - but this can't carry on.

"I'm an employee - I work for my owners. Luckily I've got a very good bunch of owners, but it's hard to look them in the eye and say we're going to run their horse in a particular race and even if they win, after all the expenses, it will probably pay for two weeks' training - it's appalling.

"We can say what we want about the bookmakers and the racecourses, but the owners are the ones supplying the product - end of story."

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