The Racing Hub Round-up: the week’s top stories
The Racing Hub Round-up: your catch-up on the week’s top stories
Racing and Racecourses
The government is to look again at the timetable for reviewing the Horserace Betting Levy. The Levy is not due for review until 2024 under legislation passed three years ago. However, the racing industry’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan, published in August, called for an urgent review as part a wider initiative to restore industry finances. The plan highlights changes in the betting market and the sport’s need to remain competitive with other racing nations.
There have been calls that the Levy paid by bookmakers on their profits from racing should be based on turnover.
The BHA’s Chair and Chief Executive, Annamarie Phelps and Nick Rust, met subsequently with the Sports Minister in September and discussed a submission on Levy reform made in 2019. They raised directly with him the case for re-examining the Levy, which returns to the sport 10% of the profits on racing made by betting companies. MPs with racing interests in their constituencies were engaged by the BHA and made their own representations direct to the Minister.
“Betting on horseracing is enjoyed by millions of people safely and responsibly, with a low prevalence for gambling related harm. Despite the low levels of problem gambling in the sport, racing promotes responsible gambling and is committed to working with the betting industry to further reduce risk. We will also work closely with our partners in the betting and racing industry to formulate our response to the consultation.
“We are pleased to hear that the review will be evidence-based and we look forward to proposals that are proportionate and focused on those at risk. We know the government is aware of the potential impact on related industries such as British racing and the 80,000 livelihoods it supports. The Minister, Nigel Huddleston, made clear in his address that the challenging conditions that sports find themselves in, and the importance of legitimate commercial relationships between sport and gambling, will be considered as part of the review
“Racing and betting’s unique, interdependent relationship has been recognised by government in many ways, including through the Horserace Betting Levy. British racing has laid the groundwork for the gambling consultation with an industry group meeting for several months. Detailed submissions and representations were also made to the recent Lords Special Inquiry, which highlighted the ‘special position’ of racing and betting.”
Quote of the week: “The field comes past the crowd for the first time – it’s great to be able to say that.” John Hunt commentating at Lingfield when racegoers were allowed back at the tracks
The nominees for this year’s Lesters Awards have been announced. Fresh from being named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year and making the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Hollie Doyle leads the way with four nominations, including Flat Jockey of the Year alongside her partner Tom Marquand (pictured), Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy and William Buick.
Brian Hughes heads the four nominees for Jump Jockey of the Year along with Harry Cobden, Aidan Coleman and 2019 winner Richard Johnson.
Viewers of Sky Sports Racing and Racing TV have voted for the Flat Ride of the Year and Jump Ride of the Year. The nominees were:
Jump Ride of the Year
- Nico De Boinville – William Henry – Fontwell – 23/02/2020
- Tom Scudamore – Kepagge – Leicester – 11/12/2019
- Harry Skelton – Politologue – Cheltenham – 11/3/2020
- Jack Tudor – Potters Corner – Chepstow – 27/12/2019
Flat Ride of the Year:
- William Buick – Act Of Wisdom – Newmarket – 21/10/2020
- Hollie Doyle – Glen Shiel – Ascot – 17/10/2020
- Dylan Hogan – Wanaasah – Wolverhampton – 15/01/2020
- Tom Marquand – Nahaarr – Ayr – 19/9/2020
Other categories for the Lesters are:
Female Jockey of the Year
- Bridget Andrews
- Nicola Currie
- Hollie Doyle
- Megan Nicholls
Flat Jockey Special Recognition
- Hollie Doyle
- Joe Fanning
- Paul Hanagan
- Robert Havlin
Jump Jockey Special Recognition
- Leighton Aspell
- Wayne Hutchinson
- Adam Nicol
- Andrew Tinkler
Apprentice Jockey of the Year
- Stefano Cherchi
- Georgia Dobie
- Cieren Fallon
- Harrison Shaw
Conditional Jockey of the Year
- Sam Coltherd
- Page Fuller
- Daniel McMenamin
- Jonjo O’Neill Jnr
Sky Sports Racing has come together with the PJA to host the ceremony which recognises the achievements of jockeys over the past twelve months. Regular Get In! show partners Luke Harvey and Jason Weaver will be joined in the studio by special guests and award winners.
Voting for seven of the Lesters awards is by ballot among members of the Professional Jockeys Association.
Viewers can watch the awards live on Sky Sports Racing, with the show getting under way at 6pm on 22 December.
Former jockey Adam Nicol, who rode the popular mare Lady Buttons, saddles his first runner as a trainer at Hexham today (Wednesday).
Nicol, who gave up race-riding in the summer after a series of injuries having ridden over 100 winners, runs Velkera the 2m4f handicap hurdle at Hexham, one of three horse in his yard on the Northumberland coast.
Jump jockey Johnny Burke is facing a few weeks on the side-lines after breaking his collarbone in a schooling fall in Lambourn
The 24-year-old said: “I suppose we could be looking at four weeks on the side-lines, but I’ll get into Oaksey House next week and I’ll be guided from there. I might try to look at Christmas, although it could be the new year.
“Things had been going well and I was in a great position with Tom George, Oliver and Tom Lacey. I was very fortunate and going great with 31 winners and riding for other trainers too.”
Horses and Races
The participation of Sceau Royal in Saturday’s International Hurdle will be subject to a late decision by trainer Alan King.
Having won five times over fences, including the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown and the Grade 2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham, eight-year-old has reverted to the smaller obstacles this season and enjoyed victories in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las and the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.
King Said: “I’m going to wait and see what the weather does and he’s also got to do a little bit of work in the morning, so we’ll see how that goes.
“It’s obviously not long since the Fighting Fifth. He seems in good order, but I won’t make a decision until Thursday.”
Indefatigable, winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, giving trainer Paul Webber his first Festival winner, is set to return to Prestbury Park on Saturday in the Close Brothers’ Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.
She was raced over three miles for the first time at Kempton last month, finishing third, two-and-a-half lengths in a Listed mares’ hurdle behind Bannixtown Glory.
“It’s more than likely she’ll go to Cheltenham,” said Webber. “She’s got a lot of weight, but there’s nothing else for her at the moment and she always runs well there so I think that is probably the best place to go.
“She ran fine at Kempton. We probably didn’t make enough use of her. It turned into a sprint. Because it was her first time over three miles, we were probably a bit tentative and she ended up not having a hard race.”
Easysland will not be returning to Cheltenham on Friday in a bid for a back-to-back win in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase.
Last month the six-year-old, trained in France by David Cottin, disappointed when finishing fourth over course and distance, having gone off as the odd-on favourite.
Coittin said: “Firstly let me report that Easysland is fit and well, and I am very happy with the horse.
“Unfortunately, this weekend we won’t be going to Cheltenham to run in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase as I found it disappointing that the handicapper should see fit that we would meet the winner on 4lb worse terms despite being beaten by nine lengths, the second who beat us by four lengths, also on 4lb worse terms and the third horse on 1lb worse terms.
Supasundae, winner of three Grade 1 races, has been retired after three lacklustre runs this season.
Trainer Jessica Harrington said: “We just haven’t been able to get him going this year. He hasn’t been jumping the way he can, so there is obviously something wrong with him somewhere. We just cannot put our finger on the problem.
“He owes us nothing and has been a super horse over the years. He’s been so consistent in all those big races for so long and we felt the time was right to retire him. He’s just not himself at all this season.”
His three wins at the highest level were last year’s Aintree Hurdle, and the Irish and Punchestown Champion Hurdles in 2018. He also won the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in 2017.
Betting and Bookmakers
The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has launched a major and wide-ranging review of gambling laws to ensure they are fit for the digital age as committed to in the manifesto.
Online restrictions, marketing and the powers of the Gambling Commission will be looked at as part of a call for evidence, to examine in detail how gambling has changed over the past 15 years.
Protections for online gamblers like stake and spend limits, advertising and promotional offers and whether extra protections for young adults are needed will all be explored.
The findings will be used to inform any changes to the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure customer protection is at the heart of the regulations, while giving those that gamble safely the freedom to do so.
The review will also look at evidence on the action customers can take where they feel operators have breached social responsibility requirements, such as intervening to protect customers showing clear signs of problematic play, and how to ensure children and young people are kept safe from gambling-related harm.
The Government says it recognises the need to balance the enjoyment people get from gambling with the right regulatory framework and protections.
Dowden (pictured) said the 2005 Gambling Act – which predated the use of smartphone – was an “analogue law in a digital age”, as he started a lengthy process that could reverse the provisions of the 2005 Act, introduced under Tony Blair’s premiership, which relaxed a number of controls on betting and gaming.
Dowden said: “From an era of having a flutter in a high-street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed.
”This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely.”
The gambling lobby group, the Betting & Gaming Council (BGC), said the review “provides an important opportunity to drive further changes on safer gambling introduced by the industry in the past year”.
The industry has recently taken voluntary steps to demonstrate its commitment to protecting vulnerable gamblers, including a “whistle to whistle” ban on adverts while live matches are broadcast.
FRIDAY 11 DEC (1.00 – 4.00) ITV4
- 1.15 CF ROBERTS ELECTRICAL & MECHANICAL SERVICES MARES’ HANDICAP CHASE (CLASS 3)
- 1.50 FITZDARES CLUB LOVES PETERBOROUGH CHASE
- 2.25 INTERNATIONAL DECORATIVE SURFACES HANDICAP CHASE (Grade 3)
- 3.00 GLENFARCLAS CROSS COUNTRY HANDICAP CHASE (CLASS 2)
- 3.35 CITIPOST HANDICAP HURDLE (CLASS 2)
- 2.05 BANGOR ON DEE HANDICAP HURDLE (CLASS 3) (Challenger Stayers’ Hurdle Series Qualifier)
SATURDAY 12 DEC (1.30 – 4.00) ITV4
- 1.50 CASPIAN CAVIAR GOLD CUP HANDICAP CHASE (CLASS 1)
- 2.25 ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE (CLASS 1)
- 3.00 UNIBET INTERNATIONAL HURDLE (CLASS 1)
- 3.35 DECEMBER MARES’ HANDICAP HURDLE (CLASS 2)
- 2.05 bet365 DECEMBER NOVICES’ CHASE (Grade 2)
- 2.40 bet365 SUMMIT JUVENILE HURDLE (Grade 2)
- 3.15 bet365 HANDICAP CHASE (CLASS 2)