The Racing Hub Round-up: the week’s top stories
The Racing Hub Round-up – your weekly round-up of top racing stories
Racing and Racecourses
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has given a positive response to the possibility that the return of British racing might not be too far away following its suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about calls to allow Premier League football again next month, Hancock said: “Well, I’m absolutely open to that. And horse racing too.
“And, I know that both the Premier League and racing are working on how this might be doable in a safe way. But that safety has to be paramount.”
Levy income for the year ended 31 March 2020 will be better than expected and is anticipated to be in the region of £97m, based on provisional submissions to date from the majority of Levy-paying bookmakers.
In recent months, the Horserace Betting Levy Board had adopted a forecast range of £90m to £95m.
Levy Board Chairman Paul Darling commented: “It is very welcome that Levy yield for the past year looks like being in line with if not just ahead of expectations. This removes one of the current uncertainties for us in our financial planning.
“I would like to thank all those bookmakers who have made timely returns to us in the current difficult circumstances and also those whose voluntary monthly reporting of betting performance during the past year has enabled us to make forecasts with increased confidence and precision.
“This additional revenue will be built in to our modelling as we now focus on the contribution that the Levy Board can make at the point that racing fixtures resume in line with Government requirements and guidance. These discussions are ongoing with the key parties involved.
“We understand the particular importance of Levy Board funding at this time. We expect to be making a greater than usual contribution to prize money as and when racing resumes, albeit that we must do so on a financially responsible basis in recognition of the wider uncertainty around our own ongoing future income.”
As part of the planning for the resumption of racing, a sub-group of the Flat Pattern Committee has prepared a suitable Pattern and Listed programme, which will prioritise the Classics and other flagship races for horses most likely to provide a future fundamental role on behalf of the breed.
Under a best-case scenario planning (and subject to advice from public health authorities), the aim is to rescue a number of lost Pattern and Listed events from the early part of the spring and stage them, if possible, during the second half of May and early June.
The object is to stage a series of Flat Pattern and Listed, should the timeline and circumstances of recommencement allow. Any other Pattern or Listed races that had previously been scheduled to take place before the end of M♦ay will be abandoned and not rescheduled.
♦ Full details at Racing Hub News Update http://wp.me/P8e3Dl-Mx
British racecourses have been invited to submit expressions of interest to stage fixtures under plans for the resumption of racing. This process will support the development of a provisional race programme.
An update from the Racing Resumption Group stated: “To help trainers plan, during the next week we will be developing a provisional programme for the first seven days of racing following resumption – whatever the resumption date.
“We will then subsequently publish the rest of the provisional programme up until the end of June. This will be as close as possible to the original programme for the period, which means we will be looking to stage roughly the same number of races by type, class and distance.
♦ Full details at Racing Hub News Update http://wp.me/P8e3Dl-Mx
Racing in France is on course to return behind closed doors at Longchamp (pictured) on Monday 11 May after France Galop president Edouard de Rothschild said Paris police have given permission for racing to resume.
South Africa’s biggest racecourses operator has warned that it was facing bankruptcy after it emerged that the country’s racing shutdown might extend for another four weeks. The warning comes after earlier for a resumption of racing last week.
Phumelela Gaming, which runs tracks including Turffontein and Vaal as well as providing pool betting services, described in an interim trading statement, a “dire situation” for horse racing and outlined its need for financial relief.
Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds is planning to donate a percentage of all prize-money awarded to its runners this season to Racing Welfare’s emergency appeal.
With 12 horses in training and 16 shares per runner, the syndicate asked its members if they wanted to opt in and donate up to 10% of their winnings to the charity.
The syndicate’s racing manager Sam Hoskins said: “The Racing Welfare cause really struck a chord with us and we told our members about how much it needed support. Without the charity stable staff would be facing even tougher times.”
Racing Welfare, which provides support to the sport’s workforce, launched an appeal to raise vital funds to replace its traditional fundraising activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Arena Racing Company and the Reuben Foundation have announced a scheme to support local communities surrounding six of its venues.
Working closely with Local Authorities to identify the needs of people who currently face real hardship throughout the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, ARC will supply thousands of emergency essential supply boxes for distribution in the areas surrounding Newcastle, Chepstow, Fontwell, Wolverhampton, Great Yarmouth and Doncaster.
Boxes will contain store cupboard and bathroom essentials, including tea, coffee, UHT milk, pasta, noodles, sauce, canned fruit, soap, shower gel and toilet rolls alongside meal cards, which are specifically designed to help support families and individuals at this difficult time.
Distribution of these boxes will remain the responsibility of each Local Authority, all of which have established emergency food and provision delivery procedures in place, with the aim that over the coming weeks a total of 9,500 boxes will be delivered to those that need them.
ARC Chief Executive, Martin Cruddace said, “We know that our venues are often at the heart of their local communities. Equally, we know how difficult the current health crisis and lockdown has been for many people in those communities, and hope that this scheme will help a large number of people at this difficult time.
Sheikh Mohammed, the leading owner and ruler of Dubai, has donated 60 tonnes of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use by the NHS.
The equipment, which includes face masks, had been bought by Sheikh Mohammed from suppliers in China. A spokesperson for the Sheikh said “he is determined to do his bit to keep Britain’s health workers safe”.
Johnny Bradburne, the popular Scottish amateur jockey who rode up to the age of 49, has died aged 74.
A chartered surveyor, he rode more than 100 winners on the racecourse and in point-to-points, and finally retired from the saddle in 1995.
Briony Ewart, assistant trainer to James Ewart, has been fined £1,500 for attempting to mislead BHA officials over a missing weight cloth at Carlisle in February.
The case arose from Bingo D’Olivate winning a 2m1f handicap, after which jockey Brian Hughes weighed in 5lb light, and the horse, 13/8 at the off, was disqualified.
Hughes and Ewart realised that weight cloth was missing and they searched the racecourse for it. Briony Ewart claimed to have found it on the walkway and handed it in. In fact, she found it hidden under a rug in the horse’s stable, and deduced that her husband had forgotten to put it on the horse.
An investigation using CCTV established that the cloth had not been recovered from the walkway and Mrs Ewart explained the real situation in the hearing on 23 April. In what she described as “a stupid, stupid mistake”, she had placed the cloth on the course and pretended to have just found it when passing it to Carlisle’s general manager Molly Dingwall.
This was the first time she had discussed the situation, which she says was “an unbelievable nightmare” and she apologised to the panel and BHA for wasting their time and her dishonesty.
Her actions breach the rule which states “a person must not mislead or attempt to mislead the BHA, the stewards or one of its employees of BHA officials.”
Ma Filleule, winner of the Topham Chase at the 2014 Grand National meeting, has died aged 12 after complications with colic surgery. Trained by Nicky Henderson, she also won the 2013 Grade 2 Warwick Mares’ Hurdle and Listed betdaq Mares’ Chase at Doncaster in 2015.
War Sound, who, in only his fifth race, won the 2015 Swinton Hurdle at Haydock, has died at the age of 11. In another notable victory in 2018, he took an £80,000 handicap chase at Aintree.
Trainer Philip Hobbs said: “It’s very sad – he died of colic yesterday. He’s been a great horse for a long time.”
Betting and Bookmakers
Flutter, which owns Betfair and Paddy Power, has completed its merger with Canadian based Stars Group which owns Sky Bet. As a result, share dealings have commenced, and the entire enlarged issued share capital of Flutter (constituting 143,987,624 ordinary shares) was admitted to the premium listing of the Official List of the Financial Conduct Authority and the Official List of Euronext Dublin and to trading on the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market for listed securities and the Euronext Dublin Market under the ticker “FLTR”.
As well as the three betting operators, Flutter also owns Timeform and Oddschecker in Britain, plus US online betting brands and media.