The Racing Hub Round-up: the week’s top stories
The Racing Hub Round-up – your weekly briefing on racing’s top stories
The number of owners allowed to attend recourse is to be increased from the current two per runner to a limit stipulated on a course-by-course basis. The time limit which owners can spend on the track is to be expanded and owners’ catering facilities will be operated on the same basis as those employed by restaurants, pubs and bars.
The changes come into effect on 28 July.
Six-month statistics for Irish racing and breeding, released by Horse Racing Ireland, have highlighted the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry.
A total of 87 fixtures were lost in Ireland from March to June during the Covid-19 lockdown. Those lost race meetings – allied with the current scenario of no public attendance at all fixtures held behind closed doors – have decimated attendance figures for the first six months of the year, down almost 80%.
The key metrics are:
- Attendances down 79.1%
- Bloodstock sales down 87.3%
- Horses-in-training down 1.6%
- Current horses-in-training up 6.8%
- Active owners down 13.9%
- Field sizes up 3.4%
- On-course betting down 73.9%
Horse Racing Ireland Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh said:
“2020 has been a devastating year for the country and like many other sectors, the horse racing and breeding industry has suffered greatly having effectively come to a standstill on 24 March. Against that background, any comparison with previous years is futile. Nevertheless, a few key points are worth highlighting.
Sir Graham Whylie has announced he is “taking a break” from horseracing and will have no horses in training for the first time in 20 years. The co-founder of the the financial software firm Sage, and once one of jump racing’s biggest owners, is to concentrate on his business interests.
Knighted in the New Year Honours list, Sir Graham, 60, said: “I’m very busy with other businesses so it felt the right time to take a break from it all now. We have our charity and we’re involved in some very big businesses that need our attention right now in the current pandemic.
“I just don’t know right now when we might have horses again, as I’m focusing on so many other things – like the British Masters which starts this week. We’ll just take our involvement in anything as it comes.”
Ed Vaughan is quitting the trainers’ ranks later this year, citing British racing’s prize-money as the chief reason for the decision.
Vaughan had linked up with Alec Stewart in Newmarket and, when Stewart died in 2004, Vaughan took out a licence.
His winners included the Group 3 Winter Derby victor Robin Hoods Bay and last week’s winner of the Group 2 Princess of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket’s July festival Dame Malliot.
Vaughan said: “It’s been on my mind for a while and now seems the right time to finish up training in the UK. As everyone is aware, with the reductions in prize-money and the cost of running a business being so high, the economics of training in Britain are not good. I’m taking this decision now because I can see things getting worse in the next year.”
Jockey Nathan Moscrop has been banned for 10 days by Perth stewards for failing to pull up his mount Im Too Generous, who was lame – despite him being the only runner left of six in the race.
The ten-year-old was the last horse still running after the third from home and was eased down by Moscrop to safely jump the final two obstacles. But, following the last fence, the horse appeared to go lame yet Moscrop remained on board to the post.
The stewards’ report said: “Nathan Moscrop, the rider of the winner, Im Too Generous, had failed to dismount his horse when it appeared to have gone lame after the final fence.
“The rider, the veterinary officer and veterinary surgeon were interviewed and recordings of the incident were viewed. The veterinary officer stated that the gelding had finished lame left-fore. The rider was suspended for ten days.”
Jockey Pat Cosgrave will be out of action for four to six weeks after a fall at Newbury on Sunday when he broke his leg.
He parted company from Capla Berry trained by Rae Guest towards the end of a 7f handicap, but walked away afterwards.
It was only on the advice of racecourse medical staff that he sought treatment and the break was subsequently confirmed by a hospital x-ray.
Hayley Turner received a four-day ban after she had ridden the Charlie Fellows trained Onassis to win the Listed Prix de Bagatelle at Chantilly.
The stewards handed out the ban for careless riding, after which Turner said: “I didn’t have to hit her and I couldn’t pull her up after the race, so I’m sure she’s better than Listed class now. It’s a wonderful result’
QOUTE OF THE WEEK “It would have been a real shame for her to lose it. I’ll take the four days.” Hayley Turner
Trainer Gay Kelleway will join the Racehorse Owners Association board after the results of this year’s election were announced. Sam Hoskins and Alan Spence were re-elected to the board for a further three year-term.
Gay Kelleway, Newmarket trainer of 29 years and former successful jockey, said: “I’m delighted and thrilled to be elected to the ROA board. Most of all I would like to help the smaller owners and owner-breeders. It’s so important to support them – they are the backbone of racing.”
Sam Hoskins (pictured) is syndicate manager of Hot To Trot Racing and Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, who enjoyed a first Royal Ascot success with Sir Busker in the Silver Royal Hunt Cup.
He said: “I am very honoured to be re-elected to the ROA Board and I have very much enjoyed my first three-year term. I’m passionate about making a difference to the ownership experience and the future funding of racing.”
Alan Spence commented: “I am delighted to be re-elected to the Board for a further term. I’m keen to support the board’s efforts to protect and improve prize-money which is vital for the retention of owners and in turn the wider industry.”
Three candidates could be elected from the 15 who stood, and Hoskins headed the poll with 699 votes. Kelleway won 501 and, in third place, Spence polled 488 votes. The total number of votes cast was 1,425.
Norma Macauley, who trained and owned horses, has died aged 88.
Her grandfather James Scobie who trained in Australia, was a four-times winner of the Melbourne Cup, and her father Norman Scobie trained in Britain for a number of years before Norma Macauley carried on the tradition.
Over period spanning three decades Macauley had many winners, not least Elton Ledger and Bentico who, between them, won 29 races.
Khalifa Sat, the 50/1 shot who finished second in the Derby at Epsom, could return to the racecourse in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood next week.
Trainer Andrew Balding (pictured) said: “There’s a possibility he could run in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood next week, depending on how he comes through a bit of work later in the week.
“He’s well, and the Gordon Stakes would be the intention. He’s just a lovely horse to have in the yard.”
Kameko, the 2000 Guineas winner who seemed not to get the 12-furlong Derby distance, is another Balding horse who is set for a Goodwood race, this time the Qatar Sussex Stakes.
Other possible participants are the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Siskin, Queen Anne winner Circus Maximus and Summer Mile winner Mohaather.
Balding said of Kameko: “He’s good, he’ll do a bit of work later in the week – and if all is well after that, it’s all systems go for next week.
Romanised, who has won back-to-back Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh, could be going for another Group 1 win in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
Trainer Ken Condon said of the Curragh win: “It was a stylish performance – and as comebacks go, it went very well.
“We’d done plenty with him at home, but there’s no substitute for a match – just like if you are a footballer or a hurler – and he has come on for a run in previous seasons, so I’m sure there’s improvement there.
“He had a nice blow half a furlong out, so it will bring him forward.”
Laurina, owned by Sullivan Bloodstock, has joined Paul Nicholls’ yard in a surprise move, leaving the stables of Willie Mullins.
Formerly with trainer Guillaume Macaire in 2017, she won her first six starts for Mullins, including the Grade 1 Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse and the Grade 2 Mares’ Novice Hurdle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival. But she failed to live up to expectations when fourth in last year’s Champion Hurdle.
She then went over fences and took a beginners’ chase at Gowran but was pulled up in subsequent Grade 1s at Leopardstown and Sandown and returned to hurdles. She had two outings over hurdles, most recently when third in Punchestown’s Grade 3 Quevega Mares Hurdle. That was her last run for Mullins.
Betting and Bookmaking
Just days after Kenny Alexander announced his surprise departure from GVC Holdings, the owners of Corals and Ladbrokes, as chief executive, the firm warned the City that HM Revenue & Customs has widened an investigation into its former online gambling operation in Turkey.
Last November GVC received an order from HMRC for information regarding its former Turkish business, sold in December 2017, which the company understood to involve a number of third-party suppliers relating to payment processing for online gambling.
GVC said that before Monday it had understood “no GVC entity was a subject of HMRC’s investigation”.
However, GVC said: “HMRC yesterday informed the company that it was widening the scope of its investigation and is now examining ‘potential corporate offending’ by an entity (or entities) within the GVC group which HMRC has not yet identified.”
GVC went on to say it was “surprised by the decision to extend the investigation in this way and are disappointed by the lack of clarity provided by HMRC as to the scope of its investigation”.
The company added that it had not been given any details of the conduct under investigation, except for “a reference to section 7 Bribery Act 2010”, nor was it clear which part of the group was under investigation.
“In the meantime, the company continues to co-operate fully with HMRC regarding the provision of information,” GVC added.
The Gambling Commission said it was aware of the HMRC investigation, and a spokesperson said: “We are aware of, and are assisting with, HMRC’s ongoing investigation. We are monitoring developments but are unable to comment further at this stage.”
♦ News Update: Kenny Alexander announces departure from GVC http://wp.me/P8e3Dl-3WN
Tote Ireland customers will need to register for a new account next month if they want to bet online into Irish Tote pools.
Irish racing fans will have started to receive communications about a series of developments being introduced to Tote Ireland as part of the organisation’s new strategic alliance with the UK Tote, announced in April.
These developments mean that from early August, account betting on Irish Tote pools will be through a new website – tote.ie, with Tote Ireland customers required to register for a new account on the new tote.ie website to continue betting on Irish Tote pools online.
Customers will be able to take advantage of new products including an instant Tote Guarantee (Best Price Guarantee) on all Irish racing, meaning the Irish Tote will pay the industry Starting Price (SP) or bigger on all win bets.
The Tote Ten To Follow competition for the 2020/2021 National Hunt season, which will have an estimated prize fund of €200,000, will be available to enter in Ireland.
There will no longer be a telephone betting service.