The Racing Hub Round-up: the week’s top stories
Your weekly round-up of top racing stories in a nutshell, plus upcoming fixtures
Racing and racecourses
Anti-racing body Animal Aid is listed as an extremist group alongside neo-Nazi organisations and white supremacist groups on a counter terrorism policing document distributed to teachers and medical staff as part of an anti-radicalisation scheme designed to catch those at risk of committing terrorist violence
The body, which wants to end racing in Britain, was included alongside Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion, Peta and far-right extremists and jihadists.
The list was produced by counter-terrorism police for use in Britain as training to prevent people committing such crimes.
Last year Animal Aid ran an advertising campaign on London buses that included the slogan: “You wouldn’t hit a dog, so why are jockeys allowed to whip race horses?”, The advertisement featured silhouetted images of a cowering dog being hit and a racehorse with a jockey on board holding a whip.
The five-year rolling average of racecourse equine fatalities is at the lowest on record following data released by the BHA.
There were 173 fatalities from 91,037 runners last year which brought the average down to 0.19%, a drop from the 2018 figure of 0.22%, which saw 201 fatalities.
Twenty years ago the average was 0.28%.
Richard Johnson is at risk of missing the Cheltenham Festival following an injury to his arm at Exeter. He was unseated from his mount Westend Story at the sixth fence and was subsequently trampled on by Fox Pro.
He was taken to hospital and now awaits the results of X-rays, having been treated at the track by doctors.
Jockey Adam Nicol, the regular rider of Lady Buttons, has suffered a back injury. A fall from the fatally injured Robbing The Prey at Sedgefield left him with fractured vertebrae L1 and L4.
Nicol had only returned to the racecourse four months ago after to breaking a leg.
Venetia Williams (pictured) has had her first horse to train from Rich and Susannah Ricci. Royale Pagaille ran at Chepstow and was the 9½l second of two, beaten by Vision Des Flos.
Presenting Percy will miss Thursday’s John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park and instead contest next month’s Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
Owner Philip Reynolds said: “I don’t think we ever ruled out Leopardstown. We just said that if the ground was going to be the same as it was at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival, we’d probably run in Gowran.
“They are due to start watering in Leopardstown this week, and the long-range weather forecast suggests they’ll get 12 millimetres of rain between now and the meeting. That, combined with the watering and the rain they’ve already had, should mean the ground is safe.
“It would have been nice to bid for a third Galmoy Hurdle. But he’s a chaser now, and that’s hopefully what he’ll be doing at Cheltenham.”
The nine-year-old has won the last two runnings of the Galmoy and had put in two decent performances on his season return after finishing only eighth in last year’s Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
He was third in Punchestown’s John Durkan at Punchestown and fifth in Leopardstown’s Savills Chase over Christmas.
Chacun Pour Soi, Faugheen and Kemboy spearhead trainer Willie Mullins’ runners at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown next month.
It is hoped that Chacun Pour Soi will put his Christmas defeat behind him in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase.
“He still has to prove himself, but he does have huge potential,” said Mullins’ son and assistant trainer Patrick.
The probable race for Faugheen is the Flogas Novice Chase. He won Limerick’s Grade One Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase at Christmas, ridden by Mullin’s junior, but there is no guarantee that he’ll be reunited with him at Leopardstown.
“I imagine Paul (Townend) would like to get his leg back over, but we’ll see. But if he decides he wants to ride one of the others I’ll put my hand up. Paul is number one and he gets first shout.”
Eight-year-old Kemboy is set for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup and is said to have benefited first run of the season, when fourth in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.
The Big Breakaway has knocked a joint and bypasses Cheltenham this weekend due to a minor setback.
Trainer Joe Tizzard’s son and assistant Joe said: “We’ve got no plan at the moment as he just banged a joint and it went a bit big.
“We haven’t got as far as picking another race out for him yet, we’ll just let this settle down for a day or two.
“Unfortunately, it meant we couldn’t enter him this weekend, so we’ll just have to have a think.
“We’ll play it by ear and see what’s about before Cheltenham.”
The Big Breakaway has put in two impressive performances to date, with an eight-length win at Chepstow a seven-length win at Newbury under a penalty.
The fire service was called to attend the Venetia Williams trained Espoir De Guye when the six-year-old became distressed in his horsebox on the way to Ascot form Williams’ Herefordshire stable. A vet from Ascot was also in attendance.
The fire service had to remove a partition in the horsebox after the horse had a panic attack. The horse was boxed at Ascot had a few superficial wounds, but otherwise was fine to return home.
Betting and bookmakers
GVC, the owner of Ladbrokes Coral, posted an upbeat trading update for 2019, saying earnings would be at the top end of the earlier guidance of £670m to £680m.
Strong growth in online betting, with net gaming revenue up 13%, counteracted a 12% drop from betting shops. The overall total was up 2%.
Media and marketing
Cheltenham have still to confirm sponsors for two of the Festival’s Grade 1 races – the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Mares’ Hurdle.
News UK’s three-year contract to support the Stayers’, which was sponsored by the now defunct SunBets and then Sun Racing, has come to an end, and OLBG backed the Mares’ for five years to 2019.
Cheltenham plan to make an announcement shortly on new sponsors.
Subject to change. ITV/ITV4
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