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
In celebration of International Women’s Day and a record-breaking year for females in racing, Southwell Racecourse will host an all-female racecard on Sunday 8 March.
Run in conjunction with the sport’s Diversity in Racing Steering Group, the BHA, Women in Racing and Great British Racing, the Southwell fixture will feature a mixed card of four Flat and four Jump races, restricted to female jockeys only.
Speaking on the all-female card, Hayley Turner, who grew up close to Southwell Racecourse, said: “It’s great that Southwell are celebrating International Women’s Day with an all-female racecard. We ride against and at the same level as men so don’t think of ourselves as female jockeys, but this is a great way to celebrate the talented women in our sport.”
A predominantly female team of BHA officials and racecourse executives will staff the day, in what will be a celebration of the achievements of women across British Racing.
Racecourse attendance in 2019 fell by 2.6%, the fourth consecutive year the numbers have declined, with the Racecourse Association blaming in part the higher number of abandonments, including the six-day halt to racing in February due to equine flu.
The number of fixtures in 2019 was 1,443, 28 fewer than 2018.
Figures from the Horserace Betting Levy Board show that average attendance per meeting for 2019 was 3,898, compared to 3,924 in 2018, when the number went below 4,000 for the first time in five years. Total attendance was over 5.62 million, compared to 5.77m in 2018.
The European Pattern Committee has upgraded two races, one each in Britain and Ireland, from Listed status to Group 3.
Ascot’s 8f Valiant Stakes for four-year-old and upwards, to be run on 24 July 2020, has been upgraded, as has the 6f Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh for two-year-olds, which will take place on 23 May.
Former jump jockey James Banks has been found dead at his home near Cheltenham. He was 36.
Police were called to his home after Banks did not turn up for work at the Naunton stables of Emma-Jane Bishop, where he has been working since August. He retired from race riding two year ago.
A spokesperson for Gloucestershire police said: “Police were called to an address in Naunton, Cheltenham shortly after 9am this morning, Monday, February 3, following a report of a sudden death.
“On arrival, officers found the body of a man believed to be in his thirties. The death is not being treated as suspicious and a report is being prepared for the coroner.”
Conditional jockey Harry Teal, 23, has announced his retirement from race-riding due to weight problems. Son of Lambourn trainer Roger Teal, he spoke of suffering from depression last year, which was related to riding and his weight, and received help from the Professional Jockeys Association and Injured Jockeys Fund.
Jack Kennedy faces a lengthy spell out of action, and will miss the Cheltenham Festival, after fracturing his right femur when unseated from Dallas Des Pictons in the Leopardstown Handicap Chase. It is the fourth time the 20-year-old jockey has fractured his leg.
The top two lots at the Tattersalls Cheltenham January Sale went to Ireland’s leading jumps trainer Gordon Elliott.
He paid the £135,000 top price for Clondaw Secret, a son of Court Cave and a brother to the smart Clondaw Court, seeing off rival bidder Evan Williams.
Elliott paid the second highest price of £110,00 to secure Folcano, a five-year-old son of Falco.
Nicky Henderson (pictured) has been expressing his confidence that multiple Grade 1 winner Altior is on track for a return to winning ways in Saturday’s Win Bigger On Betfair Exchange (Game Sprit) Chase at Newbury.
The 10-year-old last ran at Ascot in November when he was beaten by Cyrname in the Christy 1965 Chase, his first run over 2m5f, since when he has missed a couple of intended races. Henderson described the going at Ascot as a “bog” and that the horse was “only half-ready for it”.
On route to defending his Queen Mother Champion Chase title at the Cheltenham Festival, Altior is being targeted at a third victory in the Grade Two contest at the Berkshire track.
Henderson said: “He has been in good form. You might have seen the film of him schooling and you won’t see anything faster. You seriously wonder why you would want to go any further than two miles.
“No horse in England would keep up with him, what he was doing the other day. If you blinked you would have missed it, but that is him. He has got to prove himself again, and I think he can.”
After undergoing surgery to remove a chip in a joint in November, Tiger Roll is on target to be back on the racecourse with a run at Navan in the Boyne Hurdle on 16 February.
He will then head to Cheltenham to bid for a fifth Festival win, before attempting to win his third Grand National at Aintree in April.
Media and Marketing
Robert Hall ended a 37-year career with RTE when he presented racing for the last time at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Hall (pictured, cenrtre), 65, began as a radio commentator in 1982, calling the Irish 2,000 Guineas, and first appeared on television in the early 1990’s and struck up a popular on-screen rapport with trainer Ted Walsh.
“I’ve had a wonderful time covering Irish racing for RTE and I’ve enjoyed every single second of It” he said, adding “I’m going to miss it like made, but you have to move on in life.”
Randox, a healthcare company, has signed a five-year deal to be the new sponsor of the Ulster National at Downpatrick. This year’s race, which first took place in 1939 and is run over three miles and four furlongs, is on 22 March and is worth €50,000.
Last year winners of the Sport’s Journalists Association’s Broadcasters of the Year award, ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin and Francesca Cumani, have again been shortlisted for this year’s awards which will take place on 24 February.
Twice former winner of the Sports Photographer of the Year, the Racing Post’s Edward Whitaker, has been shortlisted for two categories in the photography section – Specialist Sports Portfolio and Away from the Action.
Upcoming TV racing
Saturday 8 February: ITV4
Newbury: 1.50, 2.25, 3.00 and 3.35
Warwick: 2.05, 2.40 and 3.15
Subject to change. ITV/ITV4
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