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
Racing, along with other elite sports, will be able to continue behind closed doors during the new lockdown periods announced for England and Scotland. However, the prospects of the Cheltenham Festival being held in front on spectators is receding.
Ahead of the latest lockdown, Cheltenham Director Ian Renton said that the chances of getting a crowd back to the track for the 2021 Festival had all but disappeared.
Trainer Zoe Davison (pictured) died on Sunday following a long battle with cancer. She was 60. Earlier the same afternoon, her yard near East Grinstead, Sussex sent out two winners at Plumpton – Brown Bullet and Mr Jack.
Stable jockey Page Fuller said: “She was one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. She was such a great support to me and was crucial in helping me get going as a professional.
“She was so kind and generous, and you couldn’t have written it today with the team having a double at Plumpton, her local track. It’s very sad but at least she’s at peace.
“The team have done so well to keep the show on the road and Zoe’s strength has rubbed off on them. Hopefully they can keep it going in her memory. I’m so proud to be part of such a special team. Everybody has worked so hard.”
Davison, who had been battling breast cancer for four-and-a-half years, started training in 1997/98 and had her best season with 15 wins in the 2017/18 campaign.
David Thompson, who co-founded the Cheveley Park Stud with his wife Patricia, has died of renal failure at the age of 84.
The Thompsons purchased Cheveley Park outside Newmarket in 1975 and built it into one of Britain’s most significant breeding and ownership operations.
Cheveley Park Stud stands five stallions, owns 140 broodmares, of which some 60 are stakes winners and/or stakes producers, consign quality drafts at the sales, and race one of the biggest strings in Britain and Ireland with more than 120 horses in training with 18 trainers.
Recent years have seen Cheveley Park Stud homebred filly Queen’s Trust win the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita in 2016, which was followed up by Persuasive winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Champion’s Day in 2017.
Bob Champion, who rode Aldaniti to victory in the 1981 Grand National after recovering from cancer, heads up racing’s representatives in the New Year’s honour list.
The 72-year-old, already an MBE, was made a CBE for his charitable work having founded the Bob Champion Cancer Trust in 1983 and raising some £15m. The fund forms part of the largest male-dedicated research facility in Europe with sites at the Royal Marsden in Surrey and another in Norwich.
Champion (pictured, left, with Jonjo O’Neill and Richard Pitman) said: “I’m really honoured. The MBE was a long time ago and I never dreamed I’d get another award. It’s the icing on the cake, while I think it means more.
Nick Rust, who at the end of last year left the BHA as chief executive, was made an OBE for services to horseracing.
He said: “The honour reflects the hard and excellent work this year of colleagues at the BHA and throughout British racing in keeping our industry of more than 20,000 people going and surviving largely intact, despite the impact of the pandemic.”
Nigel Payne, the former chairman of the Professional Jockeys Association, receives an MBE for his contribution to horseracing and charity.
Payne, who is chairman of the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, said: “Obviously I was astounded and feel very, very proud and humbled.”
The Racecourse Association chair Maggie Carver has been made a CBE for service to sport and media.
♦ You can find out more about the Bob Champion Trust at About Us – https://www.bobchampion.org.uk
Jockeys Dave Crosse and Niall “Slippers” Madden have both retired from race-riding.
Crosse, 38, who quit the saddle at Kempton on Sunday, closed his career on 206 winners from more than 3,500 rides in Britain and Ireland
He said: “I was really looking forward to today. I was thinking about it for a while and today was the perfect day to do it.
“I have no regrets and enjoyed every second of it. I got a nice send-off from the boys and they’ve been great craic.”
Grand National-winning jockey Niall ‘Slippers’ Madden, who rode close to 400 winners in a career lasting nearly 20 years, announced his retirement at Punchestown last Thursday.
The 35-year-old said: “This is my local track. I had my first ride here so it was great to start and finish my career at Punchestown.
“Winning the Grand National aboard Numbersixvalverde was obviously the major highlight and to ride two Grade 1 winners – Jazz Messenger and Nickname – was huge as well.”
Jockeys Tom Marquand and Holly Doyle announced their engagement whilst on a new year’s holiday on the Caribbean island of St Lucia.
Marquand posted a picture of the couple on social media on a beach, with Doyle wearing her engagement ring.
Luke Harvey was summoned to Lingfield’s commentary box on Monday when racecourse caller Mike Cattermole was taken ill with vertigo.
Harvey, who was at the track reporting for Sky Sports Racing, was handed the mic by the head steward Steve Drowne after Cattermole was stood down by the track’s medical team.
The former jockey and ITV Racing pundit called the fourth race, a two-mile handicap, before Simon Holt, who lives nearby, took over commentating on the rest of the card.
Cattermole, 59, later said: “I’ve had vertigo for a few weeks and not been sleeping that well. It caught up with me yesterday and I felt as if I was going to keel over and pass out. I felt rough after the second race and did the third in a bit of a trance to be honest when I felt I might pass out. I’ve not listened back to that commentary as it will probably be crap.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I’m running out of superlatives for Paul Townend and Willie Mullins this festive season.” Commentator Gerry Hannon on Al Boum Photo winning the Tramore Chase
Horses and Races
Monalee, who finished fourth in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, is unlikely to race again this season due to injury.
Trainer Henry De Bromhead told Sky Sports Racing: “We’re not quite sure how long he’ll be out for yet, but he’s unlikely to be back this season. We’re just waiting for more information, then we’ll see.
“It’s very disappointing for that to happen, but hopefully we’ll get him back on track again.”
Politologue is one of 12 entries for the Grade 1 Matchbook Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase at Ascot over two-miles one-furlong on 23 January.
Winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival, the Paul Nicholls-trained grey won on his seasonal reappearance last month when scoring in Sandown’s Tingle Creek Chase.
Stablemate Duc De Genievres, who joined Nicholls from Willie Mullins’ yard and has since finished second in Cheltenham’s Shloer Chase and third in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton, is also entered.
The 2020 winner Defi Du Seuil could be back in action for the first time since being pulled up in November’s Shloer Chase at Cheltenham. The Philip Hobbs-trained eight-year-old could go in the Clarence House or in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February.
Ireland could be represented by Jessica Harrington’s Impact Factor and Sizing Pottsie, both of whom won handicaps at Fairyhouse last time out.
First Flow, who has won his last five races, has been entered by Kim Bailey, and the line-up is completed by Benatar (Gary Moore), Bun Doran (Tom George), Esprit Du Large (Evan Williams), Fanion D’Estruval (Venetia Williams), Le Patriote (Dr Richard Newlands) and Riders Onthe Storm (Nigel Twiston-Davies).
Betting and Bookmakers
Entain, the parent company of Ladbrokes and Coral has confirmed it has received a £8.1b takeover proposal from US casino giant MGM Resorts International, but has described the offer as “significantly” undervaluing the company.
The proposal would see MGM offer 0.6 shares for each Entain share representing a value of 1,383p per Entain share.
In a statement, Entain said: “The board has also asked MGMRI to provide additional information in respect of the strategic rationale for a combination of the two companies.”
MGM, which is in a joint venture in the US with Entain called BetMGM, has until 5pm on 1 February 1 to make a firm offer or withdraw its interest.
♦ More in the latest Of Course column http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-5GV
Media and Marketing
The Daily Mail’s Sam Turner, who tips under the nom de plume of Robin Goodfellow, has won the Racing Post’s National Press Challenge 2020. It’s the fifth time he’s taken the competition which is based on level stakes on every selection in every British race.
Turner is to donate £1,000 of his winnings to the Mary Stevens Hospice in Stourbridge, where his wife Kate was looked after before passing away from a reoccurrence of leukaemia in December.
SATURDAY 9 JANUARY (1.00 – 4.00) ITV4
- 1.10 UNIBET EXTRA PLACE OFFERS EVERY DAY HANDICAP CHASE
- 1.45 UNIBET 3 UNIBOOSTS A DAY HANDICAP CHASE
- 2.20 DORNAN ENGINEERING RELKEEL HURDLE RACE
- 2.55 UNIBET SILVINIACO CONTI CHASE
- 3.30 UNIBET LANZAROTE HANDICAP HURDLE RACE
- 2.05 PADDY POWER DIPPER NOVICES’ CHASE
- 2.35 BoyleSports HANDICAP CHASE
- 3.45 RTV HANDICAP CHASE
- 1.25 CORAL FINALE JUVENILE HURDLE RACE
- 3.10 CORAL WELSH GRAND NATIONAL HANDICAP CHASE