The Racing Hub Round-up: the week’s top stories
The Racing Hub Round-up – your weekly briefing on racing’s top stories
Racing and Racecourses
Plans for owners to attend racecourses are close to being announced by the BHA
In an open letter to owners, BHA chief operating officer Richard Wayman wrote: “In the early stages of resumption, we have had to limit racecourse attendance to only the very minimum number of attendees with essential functional roles. This has enabled us to embed the new safety protocols in raceday operations and give participants time to adjust to different ways of working.
“Nonetheless, we have stated repeatedly that owners are integral to racing, and that getting you back on to the racecourse is an absolute priority as soon as it is safe and practicable to do so.
“We’ve been working on a phased, risk-managed plan, that adheres to the necessary safety protocols, including social distancing. We expect to have specific proposals ready to share very soon – and look forward to welcoming owners back on to the racecourse.”
French racecourses will allow crowds of up to 5,000 for all meting from 11 July.
Irish racing officials are discussing the opportunities for limited racecourse attendance after the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, announced that mass gatherings of 50 people indoors and 200 outdoors will be allowed from 29 June, with the possibility that could rise to 100 indoors and 500 outdoors on 20 July if the easing goes smoothly.
Horse Racing Ireland’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: “It’s good to see the country accelerating its reopening, which is obviously positive. In terms of specific implications for us, it’s too early to say.”
He added “We’ve said that owners are our first priority and it’s all linked in with what the racecourses can do. The situation is unusual at the moment in that the jockeys, trainers and everyone there have the run of the racecourse and are parking in places they wouldn’t usually.
The Derby at Epsom will have £500,000 prize-money, with track owners the Jockey Club adding to the prize fund so that the race carries five times the current minimum for Group 1 races. The Oaks, which is being run the same day, 4 July behind closed doors, will have £250,000 prize-money.
The Derby off time will be 4.55 so that the race is televised by ITV after the afternoon’s 3pm football kick-offs have finished. The Oaks will be run at 3.40.
Liam Treadwell, who rode 100/1 shot Mon Nome to win the 2009 Grand National for Venetia Williams, has died aged 34.
Treadwell (pictured) had two spells in the saddle. He first retired from race-riding in 2018 after having nearly 300 jump winners but suffered a fall at Bangor in 2016 which knocked him unconscious, which he later said was the main reason for him quitting.
He then spent close on a year as head lad for Ed de Giles before resuming race-riding last year for Alastair Ralph for whom he was also assistant trainer. He rode 10 winners for the trainer.
♦ Liam Treadwell – an appreciation http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-4fI
Oisin Murphy has had his four-day ban for careless riding at Goodwood overturned.
Murphy received the suspension after his mount Bright Eyed, trained by Ed Walker, drifted towards the rail on his right, causing interference to runner-up Glenties, ridden by Joe Fanning, who had to snatch-up his horse.
The BHA panel chaired by James O’Mahony, concluded it was an “ugly incident” and all parties accepted that interference was caused. However, the panel upheld the appeal, agreeing that Murphy had done his best and used the whip and reins in an appropriate way.
After the hearing Murphy said: “I’ve been all over the world and I always try to ride within the rules, so I’m really pleased the panel came to the conclusion I’d hoped for.
“Sometimes there are incidents that aren’t avoidable, jockeys are riding within their powers to do everything possible and there are incidents, such as this case. I’m not a regular visitor to the stewards’ room and I want that to stay the case.”
Poppy Bridgwater, an apprentice jockey with David Simcock, has announced she is to start riding over jumps when the British National Hunt season gets underway from 1 July.
Bridgwater, 21, who has ridden 40 winners on the level, intends to join Nigel Twiston-Davies, and will emulate her father David Bridgwater, who was a jump jockey before becoming a dual-purpose trainer.
Irish trainer Emmet Mullins has been fined €5,000 and has been banned from attending racecourses for three months after breaching Covid-10 protocols.
The penalties were imposed by the Irish Horse Racing Regulatory Board after Mullins entered Leopardstown on 14 June having been refused access.
Mullins will not be appealing the decision but asked for his fine to go to frontline workers in the battle against coronavirus.
Mullins did not have the corrects barcode needed to gain entry to Leopardstown and was told by the track’s health-screening station that he could not enter, a decision reiterated by a member of the security team.
However, Mullins, 30, continued to enter Leopardstown regardless of the warnings and was seen picking up his colour bag from the weighing room area by another security official.
English King, favourite for the Derby at 5/2 (Paddy Power), will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, replacing Tom Marquand who rode him to win the Lingfield Derby Trial. The change of jockey was confirmed by trainer Ed Walker, following a discussion with owner Bjorn Nielsen, said:
“I feel desperately sorry for Tom, and it is absolutely no reflection of our faith and trust in his ability.
“Bjorn and I mulled it over and watched all the trials, and it became increasingly clear John (Gosden) wasn’t going to have a Derby runner. After Tom won on the horse at Lingfield he asked if he’d keep the ride in the Derby, and I said to him ‘your only danger is Frankie’.
“Frankie obviously has a wealth of big-race experience and raises his game to stratospheric heights for the big races. We feel very privileged to have him on board.”
Andre Fabre trained Ocean Atlantique could be heading to the Derby at Epsom on 4 July, with stablemate Victor Ludorum staying in France for the Prix du Jockey Club, a race for which he has always been targeted.
“It is possible that Ocean Atlantique could join Victor Ludorum in the Jockey Club. He will either run there or at Epsom,” said Fabre.
“Ocean Atlantique would have more stamina, so he’s a possible for Epsom, but I have to talk to the owners and see what they want to do regarding their three-year-olds.
“Victor Ludorum is in good shape, and everything is building nicely toward the Jockey Club.”
Ebor Favourite Goshen is unlikely to run in the York feature race. Trainer Gary Moore said:
“I don’t know where we’re going to go with him, to be honest – it will be ground dependent, anyway. I would have loved to have got him ready for Royal Ascot last week if I’d known the ground would end up the way it did.”
Regarding the horse heading the Ebor ant-post market, he said: “I’ve no idea why – he’s only rated 88, so he wouldn’t get in for a start.
“You wouldn’t want to go there without a run anyway, and I can’t see him being ready in time because he only came back to me on June 1 – I definitely wouldn’t want to rush him.
“I think we’d like to give him two or three runs on the Flat and then go back over hurdles. He won’t be having many runs over hurdles anyway, because there aren’t that many races for him, whereas at least he’s still well enough handicapped on the Flat.”
Betting and Bookmakers
Irish betting shops, including those in the Ladbrokes and Paddy Power chains, closed their doors 24-hours after they believed they were permitted to re-open.
Almost all of the state’s 800 shops are now closed again whilst awaiting clarification and it is hoped the shops will be back in business on 29 June.
Bookmakers have donated £250,000 to Covid and cancer charities after pledging to hand over their profits from the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot. However, bookmakers made a loss on the race following 9/2 shot Khaloosy beating 11/4 favourite Finest Sound.
Nevertheless, member firms of the Betting & Gaming Council, including bet365, Betfair, Betway, Corals, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill, still made the donation, divided between Prostate Cancer UK, Marie Curie, The Care Workers Charity and the Berkshire Community Foundation Coronavirus Fund.
Tote Group UK have announced that, in the absence of a Bet With Ascot on-course venture, this year’s World Pool was promoted by the Tote off course as “Tote Superpools” which operated across all 36 races and saw 20 leading racing nations, including the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, South Africa and the US betting into a single pool.
This created greater liquidity with wagers growing to £137m, from £92.2m in 2019, a 49% increase, despite no on-course liquidity. The biggest pool was £5.3m on Thursday’s Sandringham. In total there were 18 pools in excess of £1 million.
Media and Marketing
ITV’s coverage of Royal Ascot achieved the highest audience for the meeting since 2012.
Thursday’s Sandringham Stakes, the biggest betting race of the week, was watched by 1.8m. That trounced the 1.2m achieved by the BBC eight years ago. Indeed, 1.2m was the day’s average audience compared to 962,000 in 2012. Stradivarius winning the Gold Cup was seen by 1.5m.
The average audience across the five days was 980,000, up 14% on last year. That too was the best since 2012. The daily average share of viewers was over 12%.
Each morning’s Opening Show averaged 114,000, 17% better than last year.
♦ Of Course: ITV get the Royal Ascot balance right http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-4f9
Leopardstown have announced that Coolmore have extended their support of the Group 1 Matron Stakes which features on the first day of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend. The race has been renamed the Coolmore America Justify Matron Stakes to acknowledge Justify, who stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky.
“Coolmore are delighted to be maintaining all of our Irish race sponsorships’ at pre-Covid levels including the flagship,” said Coolmore’s David O’Loughlin. “Coolmore America is in the incredible position of standing the only two Triple Crown winners at stud. American Pharoah has already enjoyed fantastic success on both sides of the Atlantic with his first crop and as the best son of Royal Ascot phenomenon Scat Daddy, we expect the same from Justify in due course.”