The Racing Hub Round-up: the week’s top stories
The Racing Hub Round-up: your weekly round-up of top racing stories in a nutshell
Racing and Racecourses
Horse Racing Ireland have said that the ten fixtures held behind closed doors prove that racing can be safely staged. The statement comes after the Irish government announced that all sport, including that held behind closed doors, such as Thurles (pictured)
could not take place until 19 April at the earliest.
HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: “We have run ten race fixtures behind closed doors over the last two weeks through the diligence of key stakeholders in the industry; key personnel in the racecourses, HRI and the IHRB staff; the Order of Malta and medical practitioners; and the media.
“What this has proven is that race fixtures can be safely staged while at the same time offering some level of business continuity for a crucial rural industry. The vital experience gained from staging these meetings behind closed doors may assist us to return racing as soon as possible. For the immediate future, however, there are more important priorities.”
The HRI Board expressed its full and ongoing support for and commitment to the efforts of the Government to fight the transmission of Covid-19 and pledged the input of racing’s personnel and infrastructure to assist as necessary.
Newbury has warned that there will be a “significant financial impact” on the publicly listed owner of the track, Newbury Racecourse plc, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
The racecourse also said that it was unable to insure against abandonment caused by the coronavirus at the stipulation of its insurers, who included a clause in a new insurance policy to this effect.
Newbury Racecourse said in a statement: “The Company routinely insures a number of its race meetings for abandonment, however at inception of the policy in January this year, insurers stipulated a specific exclusion in respect of any loss as a result of COVID-19.
“As a result of this, together with the additional expected impact on both media and betting revenues, it is anticipated that there will be a significant financial impact on the Company as a result of the suspension of racing, particularly if the ban continues beyond the end of April 2020.”
The statement added: “The Company already has committed bank facilities in place, that are sufficient for the Company’s operational needs for the foreseeable future, based upon the currently anticipated shutdown. However, given the current uncertainty of the global economic impact of COVID-19 and the possible longer-term implications, the Company is in ongoing discussions with lenders to ensure that financial obligations can continue to be met throughout any prolonged period of disruption.
“In addition, the Company still expects to receive from David Wilson Homes the contractual payment of a further £10.9 million by April 2022 in respect of the Minimum Land Value agreed for the residential development sites sold to David Wilson Homes. This payment is guaranteed by Barratt Developments plc.”
The Dubai World Cup, due to be run on Saturday, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Trainer Ruth Carr has closed her yard at Mowbray House Farm near York because of the coronavirus outbreak but hopes the measure is “short-term pain for long-term gain”.
Carr Said “All my owners are happy for me to do what I think is best in the situation we find ourselves in.
“At this stage, I can’t see us resuming in May. The horses are still getting full care and attention, they are out in a field enjoying the sun, but by doing this I’m reducing the footfall into the yard massively.
“I just feel that I’m doing my bit. I don’t like to train – especially older horses – without a goal. They know their job and training puts miles on them physically and it’s not great for them mentally.”
Apprentice jockey Gavin Ryan is looking at a lengthy spell on the sidelines following a fall last week at Dundalk in which fractured his L2 vertebrae.
Ryan (pictured), who was thrown to the floor when his mount Guild stumbled after seeming to clip heels, said: “I’m feeling good but unfortunately I have fractured my L2 vertebrae. I will be in a back brace for six weeks.”
Based with Donnacha O’Brien, and had already ridden a winner on the all-weather card. The race in which the incident occurred was voided with the other runners pulling-up.
After winning the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the Festival, Sandown’s Future Stars Intermediate Chase in November has been identified for Champ as the starting point for a tilt at next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup
Trainer Nicky Henderson said “I don’t see why he can’t be a Gold Cup horse next season. He is top class, there is no doubt about it.
“There is every chance we could use the intermediate chase at Sandown for Champ which we won this season with Santini.
“There are not a million races for these sort of horses. It would be a perfectly good place to start.”
Trainer Henry De Bromhead is hoping Monalee’s fourth place finish in the Gold Cup Cheltenham is a stepping stone for next month’s Punchestown Gold Cup.
He said: “It was a brilliant run in the Gold Cup. He was a bit unlucky as he got hit across the face going up the hill, which didn’t help him, but the stewards said it was accidental.
“He got murdered at the top of the hill, but these things happen. However, he did run a blinder.
“He has always been a very good horse and we were happy with the run, but those things certainly didn’t help us.
“I would think he would go for the Punchestown Gold Cup if it is on.”
Another Bromhead Festival runner who could be Punchestown bound is Minella Indo, who was second in the RSA.
He said: “He ran a cracker and just got done out of it late on by Champ. Who knows if we would have would won had we met the last right, as Barry (Geraghty) got a real surge out of Champ and fair play to them.
“We would consider the three-mile-one novice at Punchestown (the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novices’ Chase). We’ve not made any plans, but we would certainly consider it if there is any racing on by then.”
De Bromhead is weighing up two Punchestown options for Honeysuckle after she won the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle at the Festival, her fourth Grade 1 win and her eighth consecutive victory.
Bromhead said: ” We had mentioned the mares’ hurdle for her but there is also the Champion Hurdle. We will see nearer the time how we feel, but we haven’t made a firm decision yet. She seems in good form.”
Put The Kettle On, who took the Festival’s Racing Post Arkle at 16/1, could target a second Grade 1 victory in the Ryanair Novices’ Chase.
“She has been in great form since Cheltenham and there is not a bother on her,” said Bromhead. “If everything keeps going then we will probably aim for Punchestown.”
Betting and Bookmakers
Betfred owner Fred Done has increased his stake in William Hill to 4.12%, having purchased shares earlier in the month to give him a 3.04% shareholding.
♦ Are Betfred planning a William Hill takeover? http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3Dt
William Hill has says it has an undrawn “revolving credit facility” of £425m, which it can access if its financial position worsens due to the coronavirus pandemic. In an update, the London-listed company reiterated the presence of the facility and said it was working with banking partners. The company has cancelled its dividend payment.
The Betfair exchange reported a 192% increase in betting volume compared to last year in its win markets for the racing at Thurles broadcast on ITV4 on Saturday.
Over £8 million was staked over the course of the seven-race card.
Paddy Power also reported good business, with spokesman Paul Binfield saying: “As the racing was mostly competitive, it proved an attractive betting proposition for punters even considering it was the only meeting on. With our retail estate not being open, it’s hard to gauge how much more we would have turned over.
“But in the end, we turned over four times the amount we did on the same meeting last year with the 4.10 topping it turnover-wise.”
The meeting, held behind closed doors, also attracted decent viewing numbers for ITV Racing who broadcast five races, with an average audience of 434,000 and a share of 4.5%. The peak audience was 544,000.
bet365 have promised to guarantee the pay of its workforce for at least the next five months and that there will no job losses in the same time period.