The Racing Hub Round-up: the week’s top stories
The Racing Hub Round-up – your weekly briefing on racing’s top stories
Racing and Racecourses
Prize money levels for British racing are to be increased from 1 September and fixtures for the rest of the year have been published. The appearance money scheme, that had been in place until the suspension of racing in March, will also be re-introduced.
Minimum prize-money values will increase at all levels, with the middle and grassroots tiers of British racing returning to their pre-Covid levels. For Class 1 races and Heritage Handicaps, minimum values will increase to become 75% of their levels from before the suspension.
In addition to extra Horserace Betting Levy Board funding, all racecourses will be making executive contributions towards the prize money of every race programmed.
♦ Full details at the Racing Hub’s New Update http://wp.me/P8e3Dl-3WN
Yarmouth’s fixture on Friday 7 August has been switched to Wolverhampton following the abandonment of Monday’s meeting due to concerns over the racing surface. Monday’s card was called off mid-way through the meeting after jockey Gabriele Malune was knocked unconscious when his mount Lord Chapelfield fell fatally inside the final furlong of the 1m2f handicap.
The decision to stop Monday’s racing on Monday was taken after “holes and inconsistent ground” were discovered by senior jockeys and course officials, although there was no further indication of such conditions on Tuesday.
However, following the inspection by the BHA and officials from Yarmouth’s owner Arena Racing (Arc), the decision was taken to move Friday’s card “as a precaution”.
An apprentice jockey has tested positive for coronavirus the British Horseracing Authority has confirmed, saying the unnamed rider has not ridden for “a few weeks”, but had recently attended a race meeting.
A BHA spokesman said: “Having been notified that an apprentice jockey had tested positive for coronavirus, the BHA has worked with the health protection agency, Professional Jockeys’ Association, the jockey and their yard to assist their employer in following government guidance and managing the jockey’s recent close contacts.
“A handful of people have been identified and asked to self-isolate for 14 days as a result. Further tests taken by close contacts have not returned any further positive results.
“The jockey in question has not taken a ride for a few weeks, though attended a recent race meeting as a member of stable staff, prior to showing any symptoms and before their positive test.
Stan Mellor, the three-times champion jump jockey who was the first to ride 1,000 winners, has died aged 83.
He hit the 1,000 winners mark when he won the Christmas Spirit Novice Chase on Ouzo at Nottingham in December 1971.
Mellor also rode Stalbridge Colonist to beat Arkle in the 1966 Hennessy Gold Cup.
Following his retirement from the saddle he was a successful trainer, most noticeably winning the Whitbread Gold Cup with Royal Mail in 1980 and Lean Ar Aghaidh in 1987.
Mellor was also a leading figure in bringing about changes in racing, including the tuition and employment of younger jockeys.
Godolphin trainers Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor will not be sending runners to Melbourne this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the increased Covid19 restrictions in the Melbourne area.
Racing Victoria general manager Paul Bloodwood has told www.racing.com: “Both Saeed and Charlie have advised over the last few days that they won’t be coming to Melbourne this year.
“Charlie Appleby advised last night that because of the change to Stage 4 restrictions, he wasn’t comfortable sending his staff to Melbourne and Saeed has also advised he won’t be coming.
“It’s a great shame. Saeed has been a regular in Australia for 30 years and Charlie certainly over the last five or six years, so it’s a shame they won’t be able to compete.”
Appleby won the Melbourne Cup in 2018 with Cross Counter, and Bin Suroor has sent out three Cup runners-up, with Bentbatl finishing second to Winx in the 2018 Cox Plate.
Uncertainty surrounds the participation of runners owned by Lloyd Williams and trained by Joseph O’Brien in the Melbourne Cup. Williams won the race with the O’Brien trained Rekindling in 2017, but the owner has said that that if there was any concern for staff travelling, he would not allow his horses to come to Australia, adding “health is paramount.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “It’s horrible, absolutely horrible” Donnacha O’Brien on being at home watching Fancy Blue win the Nassau as a trainer
Santosha, winner of Ascot’s Princess Margaret Stakes, is being aimed at this month’s Group 2 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes over six-furlongs at York.
Trainer David Loughnane said of the two-year-old, who beat Hala Hala Hala by three-quarters of a length at the Berkshire track, said: “She’s had a quiet time since Ascot, but she’s come out of the race really well.”
The Lir Jet and Ventura Tormenta are set to run in Sunday’s Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.
Also in the line-up is the Richard Hannon-trained Ventura Tormenta, who beat The Lir Jet by a short-head in the Prix Robert Papin.
Hannon said: “Middleham Park were keen to take the race on because the Morny was already looking over-subscribed. I think this was a good opportunity for the horse to have a crack at a Group One. He has come back from France well and has never looked better.
“He has put on weight and the whole experience of France will have done his confidence a lot of good. I think the track at the Curragh will suit him and he is a very straightforward horse.
Sunday’s line-up also sees the Michael O’Callaghan-trained Steel Bull who won his debut race and followed that up with Goodwood’s Molecomb Stakes.
Aiden O’Brien is represented by Ace, Admiral Nelson, Giorgio Vasari, victorious in his last two starts at Naas and Limerick, Mother Earth and St Mark’s Basilica.
The Joseph O’Brien trained State Of Rest, who beat Giorgio Vasari at Fairyhouse, is also a candidate.
Airlie Stud Stakes winner Aloha Star goes for Fozzy Stack, who also has Bubble On Ice, whilst Law Of Indices, the 66-1 winner of the Railway Stakes, goes for Ken Condon and Jessica Harrington is represented by Lucky Vega.
To Glory, fifth in the Railway Stakes is a potential runner Ger Lyons, who also has he highly regarded juvenile filly Frenetic entered, although she raced at Naas on Monday.
Mohaather, the impressive winner of Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, has Ascot’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes as his main target, with trainer Marcus Tregoning assessing various options ahead of the British Champions Day contest.
Tregoning said: “His end-of-season target will be the QEII.”
Regarding options for August, he said “Whether something slots in before that we’re not sure yet, but Ascot is his main target.
“We could have really done with the Marois being a week later than it is. There isn’t anything that slots in ideally, as the Marois is the 16th which is a bit quick and if we drop down to seven for the Foret it’s too close to Champions Day.
Looking further ahead, Tregoning said: “The Breeders’ Cup is three weeks after Ascot this year so that would give him enough time, but that would be entirely down to Sheikh Hamdan. He is lightly raced so hopefully we’ll get a few more goes with him.”
Derby third Amhran Na Bhfiann, trained by Aiden O’Brien, will miss the rest of the year after a leg fracture was discovered following his run in a maiden at Naas on Monday.
The 66/1 surprise third at Epsom to stablemate Serpentine was 8/15 at Naas but was was reported to be lame post-race, after finishing second.
Sceptical, who was once a 90-rated handicapper but made rapid progress to take part at Group 1 level, suffered a fatal injury on the Gallops on Tuesday which trainer Denis Hogan called a “devastating, cruel blow” for his team.
Betting and Bookmakers
William Hill are closing a further 119 shops with profits plummeting due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year the firm shut 713 shops in response to the effect of the crackdown on FOBTs.
In its financial results for the first six months of 2020, William Hill said net revenue had fallen by 32% to £554.4m, while adjusted operating profit was down 85% to £11.4m, although this was ahead of expectations.
Of the betting shops that were able to reopen after lockdown on 15 June, the company reported “flat” like-for-like net revenue during the last two weeks of the reporting period as the estate began trading again.
But, it was anticipated footfall would not return to pre-Covid levels in the longer term and 119 shops would remain closed, with the “majority” of employees affected redeployed in the estate. Fewer than 20 members of staff are understood to be affected.
However, the company is to repay the government £24.5 million in furlough funds after what was described as a “robust recovery” in recent weeks since the return of mainstream sport and betting shops reopening.
Chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson (pictured) said:
“Our team has been remarkable, supporting each other and our customers throughout the pandemic, and I would like to thank them for their continuing efforts.”
He went on: “The furlough scheme provided welcome and timely support and meant we could protect the jobs of our 7,000 UK retail colleagues. Therefore, given the strength of our recovery post-lockdown, we have decided to repay the furlough funds.
“We have continued to develop both our technology platform and our product offerings, with more significant enhancements to come in the second half. The balance sheet has been strengthened by the prompt actions we took to keep cash in the business, the successful placing, and the recognition of the VAT refund.
“As a result, we have the financial strength to confidently pursue our growth agenda, taking advantage of our market leading position in sports betting in the US, and the terrific opportunity that Eldorado’s merger with Caesars brings.”
Media and Marketing
ITV Racing confirmed it will continue as the exclusive free-to-air broadcaster of British horse racing until 2023.
ITV, which has shown racing exclusively since 2017, has secured the rights to show nearly 100 days of racing each year for a further three years from 2021.
Writing on spiortinglife.com, Ed Chamberlain (pictured with Francesca Cumani) said:
“Having a couple of months ago thought this new deal might not happen I launched my own media training business and contemplated a career away from broadcasting.
“It’s relief rather than elation that ITV will continue to show racing but at the end of the day we are only the custodians of the television rights with the task of making racing accessible to all and as popular as possible.
♦ Full details and comments at the Racing Hub’s News Update http://wp.me/P8e3Dl-3WN
This weekend’s TV racing
SATURDAY 8 AUGUST (1.30 – 4.00) ITV4
- 1.50 The Bagshot Handicap
- 2.25 The Sandhurst Handicap
- 3.00 The Runnymede Handicap
- 3.35 The Virginia Water Handicap
- 2.05 Dick Hern Stakes (Listed
- 2.40 Rose of Lancaster Stakes (Group 3)
- 3.20 German Thoroughbred Sweet Solera Stakes (Group 3)
SUNDAY 9 AUGUST (1.30 – 4.00) ITV3
- 1.50 Hare Warren Conditions Stakes
- 2.25 Teffont Magna Handicap
- 3.00 AJN Steelstock Handicap
- 3.35 Sovereign Stakes (Group 3)
- 2.05 Cundall Handicap14:40 Dalton Handicap
- 3.20 Phoenix Stakes (Group 1)
- 3.40 Phoenix Stakes (Group 3)
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