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
Racing will return to Chester on Monday 10 August. The meeting is being run a day later than planned and will be an evening fixture, swopping with Windsor which now races on Sunday 9 August.
It was feared that racing at Chester might not resume due to the course overlooked by the city walls but the BHA said the change would “minimise the risk of gatherings around the racecourse at Chester which may take place on weekends”.
Chester racecourse chief executive Richard Thomas said: “We didn’t think we’d be able to race at all, so it’s a positive. We’ve moved it to a Monday so there’s as little disruption as possible in the city with people enjoying the open course if the weather is nice.
“It’s great that we’re racing and although there’ll be no crowds, we’re delighted to be welcoming owners back to the course.”
Jump racing field sizes will revert to the maximum limit imposed by racecourses from 1 August. This follows a review of field sizes, which had most recently been restricted to a maximum of 12 runners in jump races. The Racecourse Association will continue to work with individual racecourses to establish the safety factors that can be managed effectively at each venue.
Salisbury is to stage an additional race on 3 August to both enhance the race programme and provide an additional race for the track’s ITV coverage. A Class 3 fillies’ handicap for three year old and upwards will be added to the fixture.
Hollie Doyle is to be the retained rider for Derby-winning owner and breeder Imad Al Sagar.
Doyle has already ridden over 70 winners this year and won her first Group-race when Dame Malliot took the Princess of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting.
Brian Hughes has received British jump racing’s Champion Jockey trophy from ITV and Sky Sports Racing presenter and former jump jockey, Mick Fitzgerald ughes secured his maiden Jockeys’ Championship after the 2019/20 season was brought to an early finish due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 34-year-old established a commanding lead in the title race ending the season with 141 wins.
He finished 19 victories ahead of four-time Champion Jump Jockey Richard Johnson – therefore becoming the first Northern-based jockey to win the title in 40 years.
Jockey Sean Flanagan has had to sit out this year’s Galway festival after fracturing his sternum at Cork on Friday night.
Flanagan, number one rider at Noel Meade’s yard, sustained the injury when 33/1 chance Lopito, slipped up in a handicap hurdle.
“I was galloping along fine and the horse just stumbled rounding the bend,” said Flanagan, adding “There was nothing anyone could have done and the ground was beautiful on the night in question. It was just one of those things.
“I’ll probably be off for three or four weeks with two sternum fractures.”
Paddy Aspell has had to end his race-riding career after failing to recover from a cruciate ligament injury he suffered in a fall in Jersey last year.
The younger brother of dual Grand National winner Leighton, he rode 163 winners over the jumps before concentrating on the Flat.
Stradivarius, after winning his fourth successive Goodwood Cup, will run next in the Prix Foy in mid-September before taking on stablemate Enable in this year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.
Trainer John Gosden said he had discussed the plan with owner Bjorn Nielsen.
“Weatherbys Hamilton were fantastic putting up two bonuses (for the stayers’ division). It was great of them to do it – but that has gone now. Consequently Mr Nielsen wants to go for the Prix Foy in the middle of September Arc trial, and run him in the Arc.”
Presenting Percy will be trained by Gordon Elliott this season, after being moved from Pat Kelly’s yard. Confirmation came from owner Philip Reynolds who said: “It has been a very difficult decision, but now is the right time for a change,”, adding “Pat and I remain friends and I will be forever grateful to him.”
Twice a winner at the Cheltenham Festival, having won the 2017 Pertemps Final and the 2018 RSA Chase, the nine-year-old was the favourite for the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup, but could only finish eighth.
He was subsequently found to have a back problem and didn’t win a race from four outings last season.
Reynolds is also moving his seven other from Kelly’s yard, and said: “The horses will go to a few guys who already train for me, with Presenting Percy joining Gordon.”
Betting and Bookmakers
Bookmakers standing at Goodwood on 1 August, when 5,000 racegoers will be allowed to attend the final day of the Glorious Festival meeting, have described the ruling that they must take bets by cards, and not cash “a disaster waiting to happen”.
Only four bookmakers can bet at the Sussex track on Saturday, when around 5,000 racegoers drawn from the track’s annual membership will be allowed entry. The bookmakers will not be situated in their regular positions on the rails but positioned in two sites behind the stands.
“The last thing we want are problems with the trial,” said the Federation Of Racecourse Bookmakers Robin Grossmith. “The DCMS probably doesn’t appreciate the difficulties we may have. This is something we are going to be talking to them about on Monday, as a matter of urgency.
“The problem is that Parliament’s in recess,” Grossmith added. “Who we can get hold of to make a decision, I really don’t know until we try. Our political advisors will do it for us and we’ll see where we get but the clock’s ticking down pretty quickly.
While some on-course bookmakers have offered betting by card, it hasn’t been popular as connectivity and time to complete transactions have all caused problems.
Media and Marketing
Riding A Dream, the ITV documentary film which followed Khadijah Mellah’s journey from a south London riding school to winning the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood, her first ride as a jockey, has been named Best British Short Film at the British Documentary Film Festival.
Riding A Dream prevailed in a category that included 17 other films and viewers will have a chance to watch the documentary again next Saturday 1 August at 12.50pm on ITV, when it is shown once more to mark the anniversary of Khadijah’s 2019 landmark win.
Oli Bell, Producer of the film and ITV Racing presenter said, “The Riding A Dream team are thrilled to receive this prestigious award. It is recognition to a lot of people’s hard work and testament to what an incredible young woman Khadijah is.”
“We were so lucky to be working with Khadijah who dealt with everything that the filming and the preparation for the race threw at her and I am delighted that her story has been recognised in this way.
“I hope that Khadijah’s success helps to make the sport a more diverse and inclusive one going forwards.”
♦ Your direct link to The Racing Hub’s new notebook feature http://wp.me/P8e3Dl-4qC