The Racing Hub Round-up: the week’s top stories
The Racing Hub Round-up: the week’s top stories
Racing and Racecourses
The next phase of racing’s recovery plan sets out nine goals which include reform of funding, new commercial arrangements between racecourses and horsemen (owners, trainers, breeders and jockeys), an industry ownership strategy, and a full resumption of raceday activity.
The plan, published by the BHA, is the continuation of racing’s response to the impact of the Covid19 pandemic.
♦ Full details of the plan can be found in the Racing Hub’s News Update http://wp.me/P8e3Dl-3WN
Three of Musselburgh’s ground staff are facing redundancy following news that 20 of Chester’s full-time staff have lost their jobs.
Richard Thomas, chief executive of the Chester Race Company, which recently took over the running of Musselburgh, said: “Racecourses are under a lot of pressure as we are all haemorrhaging money. The income from racing behind closed doors doesn’t touch the surface, especially at the bigger courses where there are a large number of staff on the catering and betting side.”
Newbury had previously announced it was making 19 staff members redundant.
Goodwood’s annual members, who have not yet been able to attend a day’s racing at the West Sussex track, have been asked to donate their 2020 annual subscriptions to the course to help counter the losses caused by Covid19.
Estate owner Charles Gordon-Lennox, the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, wrote:
“The impact the global pandemic has had on our lives is huge and Goodwood, along with everyone else, is feeling the consequences. With near complete reliance on hospitality and large events, our business has been directly affected, with virtually no income since March.”
Goodwood annual members paid £364, whilst new members were charged £564 for their 2029 membership.
Prolific jumps owner Trevor Hemmings has announced he is cutting back on his string of horses, citing the coronavirus pandemic as the reason.
Hemmings, who has won the Grand National three times, is selling some 50 horses in training at the Goffs UK September Sale including top performers Albertas Run, Cloudy Lane, Hawk High, Mystical Clouds, Stoney Mountain, Touch Kick and Trabolgan.
Hemmings said: “After 36 years of being a racehorse owner I have made the difficult decision to significantly reduce the number of horses I have in training. I will keep around 25 runners but the rest are to be sold.
“It has been a difficult decision but the reality is that I’m 85 years of age and a diabetic on insulin. Covid-19 has severely restricted my movements as I’m classed as high-risk. Attending race meetings, even with limited attendance, would not be possible.”
A seven-day ban means Oisin Murphy is set to miss the St Leger meeting at Doncaster and Irish Champions Weekend.
The suspension was handed out by Ayr stewards for careless riding. Murphy was on Tiritomba, the 2/9 winner of the mile maiden, when the filly hung left in the closing stages and caused Ricksen, ridden by Paul Mulrennan, to clip heels with her.
The stewards found that Murphy “allowed his mount to drift left without sufficient correction causing Mulrennan to take a significant check and clip heels”.
The Jockeys Championship leader will have to sit out racing from 7 to 13 September.
Seamie Heffernan has had a four-day ban for careless riding at Gowran this month reduced to a three-day suspension following an appeal, a verdict with which Heffernan said he was “satisfied”.
Heffernan was pinned on the rail in the closing stages of the Gowran race and manoeuvred his mount, the Tony Martin-trained Jungle Jungle, out for racing room and went on to win by half-a-length, but was deemed to have ridden carelessly.
Sussex Stakes winner Mohaather has been retired after picking up a bruised bone in his near-hind fetlock.
Trainer Marcus Tregoning was intending to run the four-year-old against Palace Pier on British Champions Day at Ascot in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
The Richard Hannon trained Chindit could defend his unbeaten record of to-from-two in the seven-furlong Group 2 Doncaster’s Champagne Stakes. Hoping to follow up his win in the Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot, Hannon said: “There is a good chance he will go to Doncaster for the Champagne Stakes.
“The horse has been in great form since Ascot – and we have had no problems, touch wood. He won at Doncaster first time out, so we know he acts on the track, and the form of his races looks good. Nothing is set in stone yet, though.”
A’Ali, who finished fourth to Battaash in the Nunthorpe, is to head to the Curragh where he has already won the Sapphire Stakes. His trip to Ireland will see him run in the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend.
Ed Crisford said: “He ran a nice race. It’s a quick five at York and he was slightly outpaced early on, but he finished very well, which I was very pleased with – in another 50 yards he could have been third. With that tail wind, the leaders just don’t come back.
“He’s come out of it very well and I think we’ll go to the Curragh for the Flying Five in three weeks. A stiff five at the Curragh should suit him perfectly and he’s obviously won there before.
“There’ll be no Battaash in Ireland and I think he’ll be going there with every chance.”
Group One-winning sprinter Sands Of Mali has been retired to stud. A winner of five races from 18 starts, including the 2018 Group 1 QIPCO British Champion Sprint by a length from Harry Angel, the five-year-old son of Panis won over £720,000 in prize-money.
Other notable wins were the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes, a Group 3 at Chantilly and the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock.
Trainer Richard Fahey said “At his best he was a brilliant sprinter and a Group One winner,” Fahey said, adding, “We’ve never had a horse work like he did at Musley Bank and hopefully he’ll pass on that speed to his sons and daughters.”
Media and Marketing
Media rights payments to the 37 British racecourses represented by Racecourse Media Group (RMG) were £106.7m in 2019, down from the previous year’s £109.7m, a fall attributed to betting shops closures who contributed around half the 2020 income. And RMG warned that 2020 performance would be “significantly affected” by the Covid19 pandemic.
RMG handles the media rights for the Jockey Club banner, Goodwood, Newbury and York and revenue sources include betting shop media rights, streaming on bookmaker websites, Racing TV, the terrestrial deal with ITV, international rights and the licensing of pre-race data.
RMG chairman Roger Lewis said: “The 2019 results, while slightly down on 2018, still represent the second highest payments in RMG’s history and, given the new FOBT legislation, which contributed to 1,225 betting shops closing last year, it is an encouraging performance.
“Of course, the RMG performance in 2020 will be significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. RMG reacted immediately to the lockdown by introducing cost savings and launching several new initiatives, especially our new Watch & Bet service.
“With the cessation of all racing during lockdown, RMG supported racecourses in developing a financial model which assisted the resumption of racing. The flexibility and resilience of the RMG business generated immediate revenues for racecourses at a difficult time.”
Lewis also said the addition of Irish racing had helped Racing TV end 2019 with 60,600 subscribers, an increase of 10,000 on 2018.
Pertemps are to be the new St Leger sponsor at Doncaster, replacing William Hill.
Pertemps, a recruitment firm, backed the St Leger from 1995 to 1998 and also support a handicap hurdle series which has its final at the Cheltenham Festival.