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
Owners will be able to continue to attend race meetings in England from Thursday in line with the government’s decision that elite sport can continue during the national lockdown.
Having consulted with government officials, racing will put in place additional measures in line with the restrictions due to be imposed from Thursday 5 November. These include:
- Racecourses will not be able to provide hospitality, in line with the government’s decision to close hospitality settings including restaurants, cafes and bars
- No more than two owners per horse will be able to attend, complying with the restriction that limits social mixing between households
- Owners’ time on courses will be limited as was the case when they returned to the racecourse in July- they will be able to arrive 45 minutes before their horse runs and are asked to make their way home as soon as they can after the race
The second lock-down in England, set to last at least a month, is estimated to cost racing’s finances £12.5m due to betting shop closures leading to lost levy and media rights payments.
From Thursday over 5,650 betting shops in England will shut, and Alan Delmonte, Levy Board chief executive, said: “In terms of the scale we’re talking about, and taking this as a broad estimate with only betting shops in England being closed, £3 million would be the amount of levy that a month of betting shops in England would be expected to generate.
“So, if we’re talking about £3m for one month then that’s one scenario, but that amount for another period or if other betting offices are forced to close, well then that’s completely different. The rational way for us to look at this is on a short-term, monthly basis.”
The Racehorse Owners Association has defended itself against criticism of the time it has taken to publish its strategy document for keeping owners in the sport.
The report was started over two years ago and received over £1m funding from the Levy Board.
Former trainer Charlie Brooks, writing in the Daily Telegraph, has added to the views of owner Jon Hughes that the report does not represent value for money after taking so long to appear.
Defending the Association, its chief executive Charlie Liverton (pictured), said : “We recognise this document hasn’t been shared externally but it’s been shared very widely internally. It’s been signed off by the Levy Board, by the BHA board and the Members’ Committee.
“All of the initiatives have been cross-industry stakeholder-led. All of the costs have been challenged throughout [by the Levy Board]. We’ve learned that updating the industry internally clearly isn’t good enough and that we need to be much more explicit in updating owners and the media more proactively. We haven’t hidden anything at all, we’ve been quite open within the industry as to what we’re doing.
“We’ve got industry-set key performance indicators that everybody’s approved and agreed. What we haven’t done is tell that story externally, and we hear that. We’ve been open and transparent in our annual reports but I hear that we could have done better and we need to do better and we will do better.”
Hughes, who has seen the 27-page document described it as “Nicely produced, attractive branding but, I’m afraid, pretty vacuous,” before asking “Where are the numbers in terms of targets and return on investment? There should be a five-year plan with clear indications of acquisition and retention. At the moment, owners are racing for the exit.”
Regarding the £1.2m funding for development of the strategy, the Guardian quoted Hughes as saying: “Let’s say the consultants were charging £1,000 a day, that’s 1,200 days or about five-man years. If you put in five years’ worth of work, you better have a cracking strategy coming out the other side.”
♦ It’s another wish-list: Mike Deasy’s Of Course column http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-5ev
Arena Racing Company have said newspaper speculation that Brighton and Worcester racecourse could close permanently as “simply not true”.
The Daily Mail suggested that the two tracks could be casualties of the coronavirus, but an Arena spokesperson said: “I can confirm the speculation is simply not true. Both racecourses certainly have fixtures planned for April next year, which is as far as the current 2021 fixture list goes at the moment.”
Harry Cobden rode the 400th winner of his career when the Paul Nicholls-trained Armour De Nuit won at Plumpton. The pair went on to win Exeter’s Grade 2 Haldon Gold Cup with Greaneteen, who is now likely to run next in Sandown’s Tingle Creek Chase.
Trainer and veterinarian James Given (pictured) has been appointed Director of Equine Health and Welfare by the BHA.
Given, who has trained Group race winners in Britain and abroad and counts amongst his most notable winners Hugs Dancer who won the 2002 Ebor and 2003 Chester Cup, will relinquish his trainers licence and take up his new position in January.
The role includes responsibility for enhancing the leadership and capability of the BHA’s equine health and welfare function, improving the capture, analysis and benchmarking of racehorse welfare information, overseeing the sport’s equine disease control policies and continuing to play a role in the ongoing delivery of the Horse Welfare Board’s welfare strategy.
Colin Keane is to be crowned 2020 Irish champion Flat jockey when the season concludes on Saturday. Both Keane and nearest rival Shane Foley have finished riding in Ireland for the season and are flying to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup.
Both rode at Naas on Sunday when Keane had his 99th winner of the season which meant Foley, who earlier rode his 92nd winner, could not catch him. Keane went on to win the last race and notch up 100 wins – the third time he’s reached three-figures.
Paul Hanagan has ridden his 2,000th winner in Britain, making him the fifth current Flat jockey to reach the milestone. His winning mount was Anif in a one-mile handicap at Newcastle.
Horses and Races
The 2019 Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck has been euthanised after fracturing a fetlock in the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
Last year Aidan O’Brien’s four-year-old got home in a tight finish at Epsom and this September won the Prix Foy at Longchamp in September, beating three-times Gold Cup winner Stradivarius.
Thirty-five horses stand their ground for next Sunday’s Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan. Gordon Elliott has left 13 in the race, the highlight on a card that also includes the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle, for which Tiger Roll is among the entries.
Elliott’s Cheltenham Festival winner Milan Native heads his Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase contingent and he could yet be joined by this season’s Munster National winner Aforementioned, the Grade 1 winner Death Duty, the Irish Grand National winner General Principle and Roaring Bull, a big winner at Leopardstown last Christmas.
Chris’s Dream was last year’s hero for Henry De Bromhead who has left in both Mormon and Plan Of Attack while dual Melbourne Cup winning-trainer Joseph O’Brien has three remaining candidates, Anything Will Do, Tower Bridge and Triplicate.
Successful with Heist in 1997 and again with Tout Est Permis two years ago, Noel Meade is set to rely on Brace Yourself this time, while Jessica Harrington could be represented by the recent Galway winner Discordantly.
Fitzhenry and Portmore Lough finished second and third to Chris’s Dream in this race last year and could be back for another tilt for trainers Paul Nolan and John Kiely respectively.
Meanwhile, dual Aintree Grand National winner Tiger Roll (pictured) is among the 14 horses entered for the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle as he bids to build on his recent comeback on the Flat at this venue. His stable companion and fellow Cheltenham Festival winner Sire Du Berlais is also entered as are the Jessica Harrington-trained Supasundae and Magic Of Light and the Ted Walsh-trained Any Second Now.
Last year’s runner-up, A Plus Tard, heads the entry for the Grade 2 The Tote.com Fortria Chase. Successful in the Close Brothers Novices´ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in 2019, Henry De Bromhead’s charge finished second to Ballyoisin here last year and could face five rivals, including the Gordon Elliott-trained Eclair De Beaufeu, a big winner at the Dublin Racing Festival and second to his own stable companion Chosen Mate in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in March.
To cap the top-class action, Elliott looks to hold a strong hand in the Grade 3 For Auction Novice Hurdle with last weekend’s runaway Down Royal winner Ballyadam, Call Me Lyreen and Eskylane among his entries. Course winners Annexation and Jungle Junction have been entered by Henry De Bromhead and Jessica Harrington respectively while Noel Meade has Jesse Evans.
Sam Spinner is to return to hurdling after his disappointing performance in Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase.
The 6/1 third favourite was pulled up after six fence and trainer Jedd O’Keeffe said: “We think rather than it being a physical thing, we think it was probably more of a mental thing and his injury might have taken its toll in that respect.
“Assuming he’s OK in a couple of weeks, we’ll school him again and I think we’re going to have to switch back to hurdles for the time being and try to restore that confidence.”
Retired hurdler The New One, whose 17 victories included two Grade 1 and nine Grade 2 races, has died following a bout of colic. His two Grade 1 wins were in the 2013 Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the 2014 Aintree Hurdle
SATURDAY 7 NOVEMBER (1.15 – 4.00) ITV4
- 1.50 RICHARD BARBER MEMORIAL MARES’ HANDICAP HURDLE RACE (CLASS 2) (GBB RACE)
- 2.25 ‘RISING STARS’ NOVICES’ STEEPLE CHASE (GRADE 2)
- 3.00 UNIBET ELITE HURDLE RACE (GRADE 2)
- 3.35 BADGER BEERS SILVER TROPHY HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE (LISTED RACE)
- 1.30 BETFAIR WENTWORTH STAKES (LISTED RACE)
- 2.05 BETFAIR EXCHANGE BRITISH EBF GILLIES FILLIES’ STAKES (LISTED RACE)
- 3.15 BETFAIR NOVEMBER HANDICAP STAKES
- 2.40 RACING TV HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 2)