The Racing Hub’s Round-up: the week’s top stories
The Racing Hub Round-up: your catch-up on the week’s top stories
Racing and Racecourses
Horse Racing Ireland has announced its budget for 2021, of which the key elements are:
- Minimum prize money level increased to €10,000
- Strategic capital projects at Equine Centre and new all-weather track to be further advanced
- Brexit support scheme for breeding sector to be announced in early 2021
- Short-term measures announced to counteract twin threat of Covid-19 and Brexit
- Extra opportunities for horses at all grades with 14 extra fixtures in 2021
Brian Kavanagh (pictured), Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said:
“The HRI budget for 2021 is set in the context of two lifetime challenges hitting the sector simultaneously and the priority is to shield the industry from the impacts of both Covid-19 and Brexit, while being cognisant of the welfare of our horses and the people that work with them.
“Thanks to the effort of many, the finances of Horse Racing Ireland are stable as we come to the end of one of the most challenging years any of us will ever face. The Board wishes to acknowledge the effort and sacrifices made within the industry this year and is pleased to announce a progressive budget for 2021 which is aimed at giving some clarity in an uncertain environment.
“In framing its budget, HRI is following the key objectives set out in our Strategic Plan for the industry 2020-2024 which was launched earlier this year. The quality of the Irish racing and breeding product remains strong and, working within our Plan, I am confident that we can put 2020 behind us and look forward with some optimism.”
Ascot Racecourse announced its financial results for the year ending December 2019, with the following highlights:
- Pre-tax profits of £7.3m (2018 £6.1m) underpinned by balanced income streams
- Increased investment in facilities (£9.0m – up 66%)
- Continued positive balance sheet management – net debt reduced to £37.9m as at 31/12/19
However, the course said the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic would be significant in 2020 and 2021, and it had put the track’s business plan back three years.
Trading in 2020 has been badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The closure of the racecourse for three months followed by the return of racing behind closed doors resulted in revenues, of which over 70% being directly customer on site based pre-Covid, have been severely affected and, with uncertainty over the timings of the phased return of racegoers permitted on site going forward, the outlook for 2021 is uncertain and difficult.
Guy Henderson, Chief Executive Officer at Ascot Racecourse, said:
“Without our pandemic insurance and the Government support of furlough and business rates relief, our 2020 trading loss would be over £20m. The year will only be overall cash positive due to that support and a very significant reduction in our capital investment programme. 2021 will be much more challenging without such support.
“Our modelling currently projects a significant figure pre-tax loss in 2021. Whilst the business is robust and remains in sound financial health, the journey back to normality will be gradual and determined by the phasing of public allowed to the races.
“We do not expect to see a full return of the public to 2019 levels until 2022. Overall, in terms of our long-term financial flight path, we forecast that the Covid-19 pandemic will have set the business plan back at least three years.”
The John Gosden trained Royal Line has been stripped of his third-place finish in the Group 2 British Champions Long Distance Cup in October last year after the anti-inflammatory Triamcinolone Acetonide [TCA] was found in a pre-race sample.
TCA is a synthetic corticosteroid commonly used in equine practice and can be administered to horses in training, but it cannot be present in their system on raceday.
After its administration, a mandatory 14-day stand-down period must be observed, but the BHA warns that the withdrawal period may be longer than the minimum stand-down period as prescribed by the rules.
Gosden said: “we’re not talking about anything underhand or anything where we’ve tried to be smart arses and cheat the rules” adding that he felt “exceptionally let down by this process” having worked to a 14-day withdrawal period for TCA for many years.
He went on to say: “The BHA does not provide detection time for intra-articular corticosteroid because it recognises the difficulty in establishing reliable ones.
“It abdicates almost all responsibility in this matter, leaving vets at the coalface with the lingering feeling that they are in effect conducting clinical trials for the regulator and suffering the consequences along with their clients of any adverse analytical finding.
“TCA is the most commonly used intra-articular corticosteroid in the equine practice. It has been shown in peer review studies to have therapeutic protective effects on articular cartilage – it does not destroy the cartilage.
“I’m very conservative with my use of any medication and the horse’s welfare is paramount. I followed all guidelines and advice and the negative publicity from this matter reflects badly on the trainer, the highly respected Newmarket Equine Hospital practice and inevitably damages the image of racing. I feel exceptionally let down by this process.”
The disciplinary panel’s chairman Philip Curl said the three-strong panel did not consider there to be anything “underhand” in what had happened in respect of Royal Line. Under the rules of strict liability, Gosden was fined £1,000 and the horse disqualified.
Leicester is to hold an all-steeple chase card on Monday 28 December after its hurdle races were abandoned due to waterlogging.
Three new Steeple Chases are being added to form a revised six-race card, with one of the additional races broadcast by ITV Racing along with one of the pre-planned races.
Seamus Mullins has been appointed as the new member of British racing’s independently-chaired Horse Welfare Board representing the Horsemen’s Group, and will take up his position from 2021.
Seamus replaces James Given, who will take up his post as the BHA’s new Director of Equine Health and Welfare at the beginning of next year. James will remain on the Horse Welfare Board in his new capacity, replacing David Sykes.
Having held a trainer’s licence for over twenty-five years, Seamus held positions on a number of industry groups in that time, including serving as president of the National Trainers Federation from 2016-2018.
He said: “I’m greatly looking forward to joining the Horse Welfare Board and working with the racing industry to implement the strategy published earlier this year. Our welfare record and the passion of those working alongside our horses gives us much to be proud of as an industry, but there is always more that can be done and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to represent the views of fellow practitioners as we work together to keep improving our standards.”
Holly Doyle won three awards in the Lesters in a virtual ceremony shown on Sky Sports Racing.
The 2020 winners, voted for members of the Professional Jockeys Association, are:
- Female Jockey of the Year – Hollie Doyle
- Apprentice Jockey of the Year – Cieren Fallon
- Flat Ride of the Year – Dylan Hogan, Wanaasah, Wolverhampton (voted by Racing TV views)
- Flat Jockey Special Recognition – Hollie Doyle
- Conditional Jockey of the Year – Jonjo O’Neill jnr
- Jump Ride of the Year – Jack Tudor, Potters Corner, Welsh National, Chepstow (voted by Sky Sports Racing viewers)
- Jump Jockey Special Recognition – Leighton Aspell
- Flat Jockey of the Year – Hollie Doyle
- Jump Jockey of the Year – Brian Hughes
- PJA President’s Award – Dr Jerry Hill, BHA chief medical officer
Hollie Doyle rode her 150th British winner of the year when Darwll Lion won at Lingfield on Tuesday, and she followed that up with a double when Kendergarten Kop won the last. Here previous best tally in a calendar year was 116 winners in 2019.
Her 150th winner is trained by Ellmarie Holden, and Kendergarten Kop is trained by David Flood.
Her 2020 prize-money earnings are £1.246m.
On Sunday Doyle was voted by viewers into third place in the BBC’s Sports Personality of The Year (pictured), after which she said:
“Watching the videos of the other finalists, I thought I had absolutely no chance. When I went on to the stage with the two other guys, I thought I’m going to look a right mushroom now, so when I got called out for third, I was really surprised.
“I can’t thank people enough for voting for me and getting me in that position.
“When I was there, I felt as if I was representing racing not just myself and I feel I lifted the trophy for the whole industry.”
Horses and Races
Magical, winner of seven Group 1 races, has been retired from racing and will join the broodmares at Coolmore Stud.
In September, the Aidan O’Brien-trained mare became the second dual winner of the Irish Champion Stakes and was last seen finishing a close third in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup. She retires with an impressive record of 12 wins and 10 placings from 28 starts; her achievements earning connections over £4.8million in prize money.
O’Brien said: “Her mum (Halfway To Heaven) was a queen, she was a queen and she was by Galileo, so I suppose you could call him the king,” O’Brien said of his stable star, adding, “It would be exciting to train her offspring.”
On the highlight of Magical’s illustrious career, he said, “The days that stand out are the Champion Stakes. She was amazing, she always turned up. She was tough, she was consistent and had a super mind and was very sound.”
Santini joined the entries for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, when trainer Nicky Henderson supplemented him at cost of £5,000.
He faces a maximum of eight opponents as Monalee is not able to travel from Henry De Bromhead’s yard in Ireland.
Henderson said of the eight-year-old, who is 6/1 with Paddy Power: “When you are in lockdown Tier 4, you haven’t got a lot to do on a Sunday afternoon, I had a bright idea about what to do with Santini.
“The Cotswold Chase is still five or six weeks away, so we supplemented him this morning for the King George party.
“We discussed it last night. We’ve been through everything this morning, and he’s so well in himself and passed all his medical checks.
“We didn’t put him in originally because I’m the first to admit we don’t think Kempton will be his ideal track – but he’s very well in himself, and there’s nothing else to do.
“He may as well gallop round Kempton rather than gallop around here for five weeks.”
Envoi Allen will not be taking part in any of the big races over Christmas and instead the Gordon Elliott-trained stylish winner of the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse will head to Punchestown in mid-January.
Elliott said: “We’ve made the decision to head to Punchestown on January 17 for a Grade Three novice chase over two and a half miles and it looks a very suitable race for him before we prepare him for the major spring festivals.”
Media and Marketing
Newbury’s Grade 1 Challow Hurdle and its supporting card is to be sponsored by MansionBet, as part of a new two-year deal.
Newbury Racecourse’s Sponsorship Manager Lara Johnston said: “2020 has been naturally very challenging for many and we are incredibly grateful for partners such as MansionBet who have supported us during behind-closed-doors racing.”
The betting operator’s CMO David Murphy stated: “We are delighted to continue our support of British Racing in 2021, which includes Newbury Racecourse. We are particularly excited to be taking over the sponsorship of the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle in both 2020 and 2021.”
Christmas TV Racing
SATURDAY 26 DECEMBER (12.55 – 3.20) ITV
- 1.15 PLAY LADBROKES 5-A-SIDE ON FOOTBALL NOVICES’ LIMITED HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 3)
- 1.50 LADBROKES KAUTO STAR NOVICES’ STEEPLE CHASE (In Memory of Nigel Clark) (Grade 1)
- 2.25 LADBROKES CHRISTMAS HURDLE RACE (Grade 1) 2m
- 3.00 LADBROKES KING GEORGE VI STEEPLE CHASE (Grade 1) (GBB RACE)
2.05 WILLIAM HILL ROWLAND MEYRICK HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE (Grade 3)
SATURDAY 26 DECEMBER (1.00 – 3.14) RTE2
- 1.05 KNIGHT FRANK JUVENILE HURDLE (Grade 2)
- 1.40 HOLDEN PLANETS RENTALS NOVICES’ HANDCIAP HURDLE
- 2.15 RACING POST NOVICES HURDLE (Grade 1)
- 2.50 “BET THROUGH THE FREE RACING POST APP” HANDICAP CHASE
SUNDAY 27 DECEMBER (12.45 – 3.30) ITV4
- 1.20 LADBROKES WAYWARD LAD NOVICES’ STEEPLE CHASE (Grade 2)
- 1.55 LADBROKES MARES’ HANDICAP HURDLE RACE (CLASS 2)
- 2.30 LADBROKES DESERT ORCHID STEEPLE CHASE (Grade 2)
- 3.05 LADBROKES WATCH RACING ONLINE FOR FREE HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 2)
- 1.05 WATCH RACING FOR FREE AT CORAL HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS2)
- 1.40 CORAL FINALE JUVENILE HURDLE RACE (Grade 1)
- 2.15 CORAL “FAIL TO FINISH” FREE BETS HANDICAP HURDLE RACE (CLASS 2)
- 14:50 TCORAL WELSH GRAND NATIONAL HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE (Grade 3)
SUNDAY 27 DECEMBER (1.00 – 3.14) RTE2
- 1.00 PADDY’S REWARDS CLUB CHASE (Grade 1)
- 1.45 PADDY POWER FUTURE CHAMPIONS NOVICES’ HURDLE (Grade 1)
- 2.20 PADDY POWER “MAYBE I LIKE THE MISERY” HANDICAP HURDLE
- 2.55 PADDY POWER CHASE (Extended Handicap) Grade B
MONDAY 28 DECEMBER (1.30 – 4.00) ITV4
- 1.15 BALLYMALOE FOODS BEGINNERS CHASE
- 1.50 CHRISTMAS HURDLE (Grade 1)
- 2.25 IRISH DAILY STAR CHRISTMAS HANDICAP HURDLE
- 3.00 SAVILLS STEEPLECHASE (Grade 1)
- 1.30 LAZENBY HANDICAP HURDLE
- 2.05 CHASE tba
- 3.15 LEICESTERSHIRE SILVER FOX HANDICAP CHASE
- 14:45 TIM DUGGAN MEMORIAL HANDICAP CHASE
TUESDAY 29 DECEMBER (1.00 – 4.00) ITV4
- 1.15 HURDLE (Grade 3)
- 1.50 FORT LENEY NOVICES CHASE (Grade 1)
- 2.25 MATHESON HURDLE (Grade 1)
- 3.00 NOVICES HANDICAP HURDLE
- 1.30 MANSION BET NOVICES HANDICAP CHASE
- 2.05 MANSION BET HANDICAP HURDLE
- 2.40 MANSION BET MANDARIN HANDICAP CHASE
- 3.15 MANSION BET CHALLOW HURDLE (GRADE 1)
- 3.45 MANSION BET HANDICAP CHASE