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
Bookmakers are to pay additional fees for existing streaming and data deals until 2 December, to help provide extra revenue for the horse racing industry during the second lockdown.
The agreement is similar to one reached in the summer when betting shops were shut during the first lockdown.
Nick Mills, commercial director at Racecourse Media Group, with whom the deal has been agreed and is owned by 34 British racecourses and provides both streaming and data to bookmakers from 35 British and all 26 Irish racecourses, said: “This will help compensate our racecourses for some of the revenues lost from our licensed betting office business, while shops are closed.
“This shows what can be achieved by racing and betting working effectively together, which is especially important in these times.” A similar agreement with courses represented by At The Races is thought to be close.
Former Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain scrum-half Rob Burrow has launched a new charity-focused horse racing club to raise money for his Fight Back Fund with the Motor Neurone Disease Foundation.
The horse at the centre of the newly founded club, Burrow Seven, is named after shirt number worn by the former Rugby League star and will be trained by Yorkshire-based trainer Jedd O’Keeffe.
All members of the public can join the Burrow Seven Racing Club via the website (link) for a one-off fee of £59 per head.
All profits from membership sales will go towards the foundation, and members will also have the opportunity to win tickets to watch the horse run from the owners enclosure.
The Professional Jockeys Association has been unable to find a new sponsor for its Career-Ending Insurance scheme and has advised jockeys to take out individual insurance policies protecting them in the event of an injury which ends their career.
The scheme had been sponsored by the Stobart Group from 2011 until 2019, when the OJA funded the scheme itself. Unfortunately, that proved unsustainable and the scheme has had to end.
Southwell hosts in first jump racing fixture this Friday since its suspension in September. Eight equine fatalities at the track in August and September led to the BHA and Arena Racing Company halting jump racing whilst the BHA conducted an investigation.
Analysis of races and inspections of the surface resulted in four recommendations focusing on the structure and positioning of fences, the number of fixtures and the race programme for the same period at the course in 2021.
While the surface and the hurdles course were not identified as problematic, the chase course came under greater scrutiny, particularly the final fence in the back straight and the first in the home straight.
The report recommends modification of all fences by cutting a small section from the back of the obstacles to make the top more pronounced therefore encouraging horses to make a better shape when jumping, alongside the repositioning of the first fence in the home straight to move it as far from the bottom bend “as is feasible”.
The number and make-up of races run at Southwell between July and September next year will also be assessed before publication of the programme book.
Brant Dunshea, BHA chief regulatory officer (pictured), said: “The safety of our participants is the top priority for everyone involved in British racing and the sport is constantly taking steps to assess potential risk factors and make improvements where necessary.
“This process of ongoing review, assessment and improvement has resulted in the fatality, injury and faller rates in jump racing reducing by around one third in the last 20 years.”
Ben Curtis has been awarded the Cock O’ The North Title as the jockey with the most amount of winners in Flat races at Northern-based racecourses, with 70 victories.
In a thrilling end to the competition, Curtis’ win aboard Tipperary Tiger at Doncaster moved him clear of rivals Daniel Tudhope (68) and Kevin Stott (67) who finish second and third respectively.
On winning the title, Ben Curtis said: “It’s fantastic to come out on top, it has created some enjoyable competitiveness between the three of us, so it is great to win it. There are so many fantastic northern based jockeys at the moment, so its not an easy thing to win, but I would like to thank all the trainers and owners that have supported me throughout the season.”
The 31-year-old has enjoyed a terrific campaign at Northern racecourses, with the win aboard Tipperary Tiger marking his fifth success at Doncaster.
He has also secured double-figures at Newcastle (28) and Pontefract (12). Amongst his 70 victories at Northern tracks, Curtis claimed two Group 3 races within two days at Newcastle. Firstly, with Dubai Station in the Betway Pavilion Stakes on Thursday 4th June, and then with Nayef Road in the Betway Sagaro Stakes on Saturday 6th June.
Cieren Fallon has retained the apprentice jockey championship, the first time there has been a back-to-back champion since Gary Bardwell in 1987 and 1988.
No apprentice had doubled up since Gary Bardwell in 1987 and 1988 and Fallon said: “It’s been a very good year and I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had lots of support; I can’t thank every owner and trainer who has supported me enough.
Fallon, who has ridden 29 winners this year, a 10% strike-rate, said: “Mr Haggas has supported me a lot and I’ve been in the right place at the right time. I hope it can continue next year.
“I hope just to ride more winners than next year and have a bit more Group success,” adding “I hope to keep building each year.
“If things fall right, with Qatar Racing and Mr Haggas, I hope I’ll have a lot more chances. If that’s so, I don’t see why I can’t better this year.” Fallon rode his first Group 1 success in the July Cup at Newmarket.
♦ See The Racing Hub’s Flat 2020 highlights http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-5gw
Horses and Races
Thistlecrack could make his racecourse return later this month in Ascot’s Marsh Hurdle. The 12-year-old, who ran just once last season when second in in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, won the race in 2015.
Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “He is back in and loving life, but he is not quite ready to go yet. He is still so popular and is a real favourite in our yard.
“I think the Newbury race at the end of the month he finished second in last year is likely to come too soon as he was a bit later in.
“He might go to the Long Walk or something like that, but we just have to take it day by day with him.”
Global Citizen, who was pulled-up in his seasonal debut in Exeter’s Haldon Gold Cup, has two possible handicaps at Newbury’s Ladbrokes Winter Carnival for his next outing.
Trainer Ben Pauling said: “Global Citizen came out of the Exeter race fine, and the likelihood is that he will go to Newbury now at the end of the month. “He will either go for the two-mile-three handicap chase on the Friday or what is the Jim Joel Memorial Trophy.
“He should have dropped to a nice mark for a handicap like either of those.” On his Exeter run, the first time the horse has failed to complete, Pauling said: “It was disappointing at Exeter, but we thought we would try different tactics and just drop him in. Some horses don’t enjoy being ridden like that, and he is one.”
La Bague Au Roi is a potential runner in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, provided the ground is suitable.
Trainer Warren Greatrex said “The ground is key to her. If it comes up like it was at the track on Thursday or is good-to-soft, we would definitely have a go – if it doesn’t, we will have to think again.”
On her run in the Charlie Hall Chase when she finished fifth, Greatrex said: “I was chuffed to bits with her run at Wetherby. She just didn’t travel as well as she can do on better ground, but I thought she ran a respectable race.
Emitom, from Warren Greatrex’s yard is a possible for the Grade Two Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Chase at Newbury.
The seven-year-old ran disappointingly last time out at Ffos Las, and Greatrex said: “We’ve freshened Emitom up since Ffos Las and we might look at the John Francome at Newbury, but there are a couple of other options around that time.
“He ran flat at Ffos Las, but it was only two weeks after Uttoxeter. He has now had two experiences over fences, and the thing that has pleased me most is his jumping. There is a lot more to come from him.”
Epatante is 8/11 favourite with Paddy Power for the Grade 1 Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday 28 November 28.
He’s one of 17 entries and his trainer Nicky Henderson has also entered Marie’s Rock, who is unbeaten after a bumper and two hurdle races.
Last year’s 16/1 winner Cornerstone Lad, is set to go again for trainer Micky Hammond who was the all-the-way winner of 14-furlong handicap at Redcar earlier this month as part of his prep.
Topofthegame will not race this season following the recurrence of an old injury. The Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year old, who won the 2019 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and was favourite for Newbury’s Ladbrokes Trophy, was ruled out for the whole of last season.
One For Arthur, the 11-year-old who won the Grand National in 2017, has been retired.
Trainer Lucinda Russell said: “When you make a decision like this you almost feel sorry for yourself because you are not going to be able to keep training a horse that’s become a big part of your life.
“However, when you turn it round it’s brilliant. He’s going out sound and happy. We’ve got to make the decision without having the decision made for us. It’s been fantastic from that point of view.’
Betting and Bookmakers
BoyleSports have been fined £2.8m by the Gambling Commission for anti-money laundering failures.
The online gambling business has had a series of tougher conditions added to its licence after a Gambling Commission assessment revealed a series of money laundering failures.
During an investigation by the regulator, Boylesports Enterprise was found to have breached Commission rules aimed at preventing money laundering on its Boylesports.com and Boylecasino.com websites.
The investigation – part of the regulator’s ongoing drive to raise standards across the gambling industry – revealed that the operator failed to have an appropriate money laundering risk assessment in place.
It was also found that its anti-money laundering policies, procedures and controls were unsuitable and therefore could not be implemented effectively.
The probe also revealed that the operator failed to comply with elements of the Money Laundering Regulations.
Richard Watson, executive director at the Gambling Commission, said: “It is vital that all gambling businesses have effective anti-money laundering policies and procedures firmly in place and as part of our ongoing drive to raise standards we will continue to take tough action against operators who do not.”
Licence conditions added to Boylesports Enterprise licence include:
- Maintaining the appointment of an appropriately qualified Money Laundering Reporting Officer who holds a Personal Management Licence, and, in appointing the officer, ensure that the individual undertakes annual refresher training in anti-money laundering and be able to evidence this to the Commission
- Ensuring that all licence holders, senior management and key control staff undertake outsourced anti-money laundering training. All such staff must undertake outsourced refresher training annually thereafter
- Continuing its review of the effectiveness and implementation of its AML policies, procedures and controls
In addition to the licence conditions imposed by the Commission, Boylesports Enterprise was also given an official warning and fined £2.8 million for its breaches.
Flutter Entertainment plc, whose brands include Betfair, Paddy Power and Sky Bet, has reported that its performance in the third quarter (July to September) had exceed expectationsIncluded in the highlights for the period were:
- Group online revenue growing by over 33% on return of sports
- UK and Ireland brands Paddy Power and SBG (Sky) taking market share and seeing revenue growth of +32% and +26% respectively
Chief executive Peter Jackson commented: “Flutter’s performance in the third quarter exceeded our expectations in both sports and gaming. Our strong trading continued as we grew market share in key regions while retaining our commitment to safer gambling practices.
“During the quarter we continued to expand our recreational customer base while bringing our businesses together. This included the successful migration of the BetEasy customer base onto the Sportsbet platform in Australia.
“We are very pleased to have retained our position as the number one online operator in the US, where FanDuel has made significant progress against each of its key priorities. We have enhanced the customer experience, secured further strategic media partnerships and acquired more new customers than anticipated. We are on track to generate more than $1.1 billion of GGR in the US this year, which will mark a major ‘first’ for an online operator.
“We are now a truly global business with significant scale. As such we are in a unique position to respond to the many opportunities we see across our growing markets. Looking ahead, whilst the outlook with respect to Covid-19 remains uncertain, we are confident that our business is well positioned to capture further growth in a sustainable and responsible way.”
Media and Marketing
The Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards will be broadcast live and free-to-air for the first time in 2021 on Racing TV.
Due to COVID-19 the awards ceremony is due to take place ‘virtually’ on Monday 22 February 2021.
The support of Racing TV via a dedicated awards show on that evening will provide a new platform to allow the finalists and those connected to them to be involved from the surroundings of their yard or stud. M
Additionally, it will mean awards can be brought directly to a wider audience than ever before and mean that everyone involved in the racing and breeding industries can celebrate the achievements of the winners and finalists from their own homes.
The show will likely involve interviews with the finalists and winners, as well as those involved in the awards and judging process and other industry figures. There will also be a chance for those watching on from home to get involved via social media.
THURSDAY 12 NOVEMBER (1.30 – 4.00) ITV4 CLONMEL
- 1.50 Clonmel Oil Service Station Handicap Hurdle
- 2.25 Clonmel Oil Chase (Grade 2)
- 3.00 TA Morris Irish EBF Mares’ Chase (Listed)
- 3.35 Prior Park Service Station Handicap Chase
- 2.05 Newton King Estate Agents Handicap Hurdle
- 2.40 Arthur & Peggy White Memorial Handicap Chase
FRIDAY 13 NOVEMBER (1.30 – 4.00) ITV4 CHELTENHAM
- 1.50 Mucking Brilliant Paddy Power Handicap Chase
- 2.25 SSS Novices’ Chase
- 3.00 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase
- 3.35 Ballymore Hyde Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
SATURDAY 14 NOVEMBER (1.30 4.30) ITV CHELTENHAM
- 1.40 Paddy Power November Novices Chase (Grade 2)
- 2.15 Paddy Power Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)
- 2.50 Paddy Power 3pm Kick Off Handicap Hurdle
- 3.25 Paddy Power One Before The Flat Handicap Hurdle
- 3.55 Karndean Designflooring National Hunt Flat Race (Listed) (2m)
- 3.05 Betway Churchill Stakes (Listed)
- 3.40 Betway Gold Rose Stakes (Listed)
SUNDAY 15 NOVEMBER (1.30 – 4.00) ITV CHELTENHAM
- 1.50 November Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
- 2.25 Shloer Chase (Grade 2)
- 3.00 Unibet Greatwood Hurdle (Handicap) (Grade 3)
- 3.35 SkyBet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Trial (Grade 2)
- 3.15 MansionBet Southern National (Handicap Chase)
- 2.10 Unibet Morgiana Hurdle (Grade 1)