The Racing Hub Round-up: the week’s top stories
The Racing Hub Round-up: your catch-up on the week’s top stories
Racing and Racecourses
The postponement of admitting crowds to sporting events from 1 October could remain in place for six months says Boris Johnson.
Such a prospect raises the possibility of no crowds at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, with the chances of racegoers at Kempton Park for the Christmas meeting seeming bleak.
Johnson (pictured) said: “We have to acknowledge the spread of the virus is affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events, so we’ll not be able to do this from October 1.
“I recognise the implications for our sports clubs, which are the life and soul of our communities, and the chancellor and culture secretary are working urgently on what we can do to support them.
“We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments and new forms of mass testing but unless we palpably make progress, we should assume the restrictions I’ve announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.”
Newmarket has had to abandon its pilot scheme of hosting 1,000 racegoers at each of three days of its Cesarewitch meeting.
The delay to the return of spectators at sporting events triggered a response by the BHA on behalf of the racing’s Tripartite Leadership Bodies, the BHA, Horsemen’s Group and Racecourse Association:
“The delay to the public’s return to sporting events is a serious blow to the horseracing industry and to the people and communities who depend upon it for their living. Our sport has worked hard with public health officials to return safely and carry out pilot events. The exemplary response from the spectators in following the measures we put in place has shown that organised events can be run safely. We look forward to a full evaluation of the pilots and for the evidence to be used to inform future decisions about sporting events.
“Despite all those efforts, our industry is now facing a severe threat. We are the second most attended spectator sport in the country. Without the millions of people who normally enjoy a day at the races, many people’s jobs are at serious risk, as are the businesses they work in. We know this is recognised from the regular discussions we have had with ministers and we thank them for their strong support in these difficult times.
“We have kept the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments updated on the financial impact of COVID and the effects on the rural economies in which so many of our racing staff live and work. We have told the UK government our racecourses were facing a loss of £250 to £300 million of revenues this year, which in turn means less prize money flowing through to our participants and our owners.
“We will be conducting a further economic impact assessment and will work with government to put in place financial assistance to protect livelihoods and rural communities. We were pleased to hear the Prime Minister say that the Chancellor and the Culture Secretary are working urgently to do what they can to support our sector.”
The Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, Nick Rust, was due to attend a meeting with the Culture Secretary on Tuesday afternoon.
Newbury has revealed that its 2020 trading has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government nationwide lockdown since March.
Total turnover in the six months to 30 June 2020 was down 68% compared with the same period in 2019, to £2.45m. That led to a loss before interest, tax and exceptional items of £1.64m compared to a £0.30m loss last year.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the business has taken specific actions to protect its financial position in both the short and long term.
These include making use of the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, completing a restructure and redundancy programme resulting in an 18% reduction of the permanent headcount and agreeing a deferred repayment of the final loan instalment to Compton Beauchamp Estates Limited.
The BHA suffered a bigger than expected operating loss of £767,000 in 2019, and is forecasting an increased loss for 2020 due to the coronavirus. It had budgeted for a loss last year of £478,000.
Overall income, which is mostly derived from charges paid by racecourses and owners, rose by around £500,000 to £34.9m in 2019, but costs went up to £35.7m from £34.3m.
To mitigate the impact, the governing body said it had made significant savings and efficiencies, saving the industry up to £1m per month while racing was suspended.
Contributing to the greater than anticipated loss was economic modelling work done by Portas Consulting to help British racing set future strategy which had been agreed by the wider sport and which had cost £175,000 by the year end.
The BHA also had to write off costs of £75,000 relating to the setting up of the Racing Authority, the body which had been due to take over some of the Levy Board’s duties but which was scrapped early in 2019. This amounted to £205,000.
Apprentice George Rooke received a 14-day ban for riding a finish a circuit too soon in a two-and-a-half-mile handicap at Wolverhampton on Saturday.
The 19-year-old, who was stripped of five winners and banned for seven days earlier this year for failing to report winning rides in Jersey which affected his weight allowance, was on board the Paul D’Arcy trained 11/4 favourite Sophar Sogood.
The pair entered the home straight for the first time and Rooke rousted Sophar Sogood, extending the gap over the rest of the field, who went past him still with a circuit to go.
Rooke, who is attached to Richard Hughes’ yard, started riding again but finished ninth of the field of ten, over 50 lengths behind the winner.
Jockey Marc Goldstein is due to have surgery after fracturing his pelvis in three places during a schooling accident on Tuesday.
Apprentice Sean Kirrane has been ruled out from riding for the rest of the season as he’s set to have an operation to fix a long-standing shoulder problem.
He Tweeted: “Huge thanks to everyone who supported me up until now. Looking forward to returning after surgery better than ever.”
Paddy Brennan, who has ridden 24 winners and is second in the jump jockeys’ championship, has been handed down a nine-day ban for careless riding by Plumpton’s stewards.
Riding Karakoram in a two-mile handicap hurdle Brennan is considered to have interfered with Limelighter, causing the four-year-old to clip heels and force jockey Niall Houlihan to produce an astonishing recovery to stay in the saddle.
The stewards’ report read: “Brennan was suspended for nine days for careless riding as he allowed his mount to drift left-handed when not sufficiently clear of Limelighter.
“This caused the gelding to clip heels and nearly unseat Houlihan, who was unable to regain his irons and had to be pulled up.”
Brennan’s mount finished sixth.
Alkumait, the striking winner of Newbury’s Mill Reef Stakes, could be supplemented for next month’s Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket
The horse impressed in the six-furlong Group 2 contest and Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: “We were absolutely thrilled with him. He showed a really nice turn of foot and won very nicely.
“The Mill Reef/Middle Park double has never really worked out for us, so we were never going to go down that route.
“His action would suggest he prefers top of the ground. That’s not to say he wouldn’t handle cut in the ground, but I certainly don’t think he would want it heavy.”
Quadrilateral is lined-up for a return to winning ways in Saturday’s one-mile Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.
Whilst she has not won since taking last year’s Fillies’ Mile over course and distance, she was third spot in both the 1000 Guineas and the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Trainer Roger Charlton said: “The only race for her at this stage is the Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket. If she is well, we will be heading there.”
Last time out Quadrilateral was fourth the Group 3 Atalanta Stakes at Sandown, and Charlton said: “I thought she needed the race at Sandown, because she had her setback and she just blew up.”
Lord Glitters could be trying for another Ascot win with a run in next month’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
The seven-year-old hasn’t won since last year’s Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, but has been putting in some decent performance, most recently when finishing second to Addeybb in Ayr’s Listed Doonside Cup
Trainer David O’Meara said: “It was a good run by Lord Glitters at Ayr,” adding “I thought for a moment we were going to get there, but Addeybb just got first run on us.
“Where we go next, I’m not completely sure. He is in the QEII, and we could go there. Palace Pier will be very hard to beat, but Lord Glitters loves it there and he could pick up the pieces.”
Lady Buttons has been retired at the age of 10. Trainer Phil Kirby Tweeted: “It’s been a significant morning here at the yard, and time has been called on a wonderful career. Our horse of a lifetime, and the people’s favourite, Lady Buttons, has been retired.
“A small setback meant she would have been on the side-lines until Christmas, and a spring return would not have been in Buttons’ best interests.
“With a few months now to chill, her second career begins in the spring and we’re delighted that she will remain with us to become a broodmare.
The mare won 15 of her 33 races, amassing nearly £300,000 in prize-money.
THURSDAY 24 SEPTEMBER (1.30 – 4.30) ITV4
- 1.50 The newmarketracecourses.co.uk Handicap
- 2.25 The British Stallion Studs EBF Handicap
- 3.00 The Tattersalls Stakes (Group 3)
- 3.35 The Jockey Club Rose Bowl Stakes (Listed)
- 2.05 The Simon Scrope Dalby Screw Driver Handicap
- 2.40 The William Hill Handicap
FRIDAY 25 SEPTEMBER (1.30 – 4.30) ITV4
- 1,50 The Tasleet British EBF Rosemary Stakes (Listed)
- 2.25 The Princess Royal Muhaarar Stakes (Group 3)
- 3.00 The Shadwell Rockfel Stakes (Group 2)
- 3.35 The Shadwell Joel Stakes (Group 2)
SATURDAY 26 SEPTEMBER (1.30 – 4.00) ITV4
- 1.50 The Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (Group 2)
- 2.25 The Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (Group 1)
- 3.00 The Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes (Group 1)
- 3.35 The bet365 Cambridgeshire (Heritage Handicap)
- 2.05 The Visit racingtv.com Handicap Stakes
- 2.40 The Join Racing TV Now Handicap Stakes
- 3.15 The Beresford Stakes (Group 2)
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