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
Irish racing has received 14% increase in funding to €76.8m for next year following the state’s 2021 budget.
This year Horse Racing Ireland’s funding was unchanged at €67.2m, but in the budget statement the department of agriculture’s 2021 spend was increased by €179m to €1.8bn.
Brian Kavanagh, HRI’s chief executive, said: “The increase is obviously welcome and it’s in line with our submissions pre-budget, so it will help us tackle the twin challenges of Covid and Brexit.
“Those are the two main issues, and to kick on with elements of the five-year strategic plan. In that sense, the increase in funding is very welcome and it reflects a support for the industry. We have made the point that the industry is resilient, and is one that, with support, can come through and deliver for the country after this pandemic.
“But we are facing big challenges – we have to be realistic about that. We were concerned about the challenge of Brexit before Covid-19, which has brought a different set of problems.”
Down Royal’s meeting scheduled for 31 October will go ahead despite tightening Covid-19 rules in Northern Ireland, as racing is categorised as an elite sport.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (pictured) has admitted Government “inconsistencies” over allowing spectators in concert venues but not sporting stadiums this autumn.
Under wide-ranging questioning from MPs Dowden acknowledged concern across sport over the ongoing ban on crowds. “I accept people’s frustration at the inconsistency there,” he said, adding: “In relation to sports, we had sports on a path to return to normality, and indeed sports were the first to get on the first stage of return to normality, with football behind closed doors.”
Christmas racing fixtures are to undergo a number of changes which affect fixtures between 21 and 30 December:
- Huntingdon’s afternoon fixture on 26 December moved to 22 December
- Sedgefield’s afternoon fixture moved from 26 December to 22 December
- Fontwell’s afternoon fixture moved from 26 December to 28 December
- Market Rasen’s afternoon fixture on 26 December moved to 30 December
- Southwell afternoon flat fixture on 29 December moved to a floodlit fixture
- Lingfield Park afternoon flat fixture on 28 December replaced with Newcastle floodlit fixture
- Lingfield Park afternoon flat fixture on 30 December replaced with Wolverhampton floodlit fixture
- Additional afternoon flat fixture at Newcastle on 21 December
- Additional afternoon flat fixture at Lingfield Park on 22 December
The Racehorse Relief Fund, a fund of last resort to support the needs of racehorses whose owners are suffering financial hardship as a result of the impact of Covid-19, has been launched by Racehorse Owners Association and Racing Foundation.
The Fund will help mitigate potential welfare and financial effects of Covid-19 on racing, supporting horses, owners and trainers whilst helping businesses maintain financial stability. It also provides valuable breathing spaces to trainers and horses to fully assess the right path for a horse, whether in racing or beyond. The fund gives horses significant protection and ensures the industry’s high welfare standards are being met.
Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the ROA, said: “This is about protecting horses and livelihoods. As the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis continue to crystallise it is clear that some owners will be financially affected and no longer able to sustain training fees.
“As a last resort, we hope that this fund will help horses, trainers and owners find a solution that meets the high standards of welfare we expect and provides some financial stability to training yards.”
Irish trainer John Oxx has announced he will retire at the end of the current turf season.
“In 2021, I will not be renewing my trainer’s licence. It has been my good fortune to have enjoyed a lot of success and trained some great horses,” he said.
“I am extremely grateful to all the owners who have sent me those horses to train since 1979, to all the great jockeys who rode them and to all the exceptional staff who have worked for us over the last 41 years.
The 70-year-old is best known for his successes with Sea The Stars (pictured), who won six Group 1 races in a six-month period in 2009. He who was Ireland’s champion trainer in 1995, and trained almost 2,000 winners, including 137 Group winners, 37 Group 1 wins and 11 Classic winners
Davy Russell and Jack Kennedy are both recovering from injuries sustained in falls at Limerick on Sunday.
Dr Jennifer Pugh, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s senior medical officer, said: “Davy Russell sustained a neck injury and has a fracture of his C6 vertebrae and Jack Kennedy fractured his left collarbone. Unfortunately, they will both be out for a number of weeks.”
Russell, whose mount Doctor Duffy fell at the first in the Munster National, is expected to be out action two months
Kennedy could recover in time to be on board the Gordon Elliott trained Delta Work in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal at the end of the month.
The Queen’s Birthday Honours List saw the recognition of a number people involved in racing:
- Ron Atkins has been honoured for his services to racing with an MBE. The former jump jockey and trainer was vice-president of the Jockeys’ Association for 18 years, instigated the Jockeys’ Pension Fund and was one of the association’s first course inspectors
- He then became director of operations at the Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre
- Paul Lee, chairman of the Levy Board from 2009 until March this year, receives an OBE
- David and Patricia Thompson, owners of Cheveley Part Stud, have each been awarded a CBE for their philanthropic activity
- Johnny Weatherby, the Queen’s representative at Ascot for nine years until he stood down this summer, has been awarded the KCVO (Royal Victorian Order), which rewards personal services to the monarch
Pat Smullen, who died from pancreatic cancer last month aged 43, is to be remembered at Dundalk on Friday with the feature Group 3 Mercury Stakes being run in honour of the nine-time Irish Champion Flat jockey.
The Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Pat Smullen Mercury Stakes is a five-furlong for three-year-olds and upwards.
Enable’s retirement was confirmed on Monday and you can read our tribute to one of the greatest racehorses to grace the turf in The Enable Story http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-57M
Magical, trained by Aidan O’Brien, is set to try and go one better than Frankel and Cracksman by becoming the first horse to win three times at Ascot’s QIPCO Champions Day meeting.
The five-year-old mare will either defend her crown in Saturday’s Champion Stakes or attempt to gain a second success in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, which she won in 2018.
Four of John Gosden’s leading lights – Stradivarius, Palace Pier, Mishriff and Lord North – are all intended runners. The champion trainer will be seeking to add to his haul of eight winners – the same tally as O’Brien.
He said “It was a very bold initiative from QIPCO and Ascot when British Champions Day was conceived, and it has worked very well.
“It’s done a great job confirming champions, and it’s provided a great wrap up to the European season before the Breeders’ Cup.”
Whilst dual Group 1 winner Kameko is a non-runner in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, instead heading directly to the Breeders’ Cup, that still leaves 24 Group 1 winners engaged and, between them, they have won 48 races at the highest level.
Five Classic winners remain in contention to run – Even So, Mishriff, Search For A Song, Serpentine and Sovereign – and no fewer than 20 entries have at least one win at Royal Ascot to their name.
Nazeef, the four-year-old filly who has climbed the ranks from a maiden success to two Group 1 victories, will take on her unbeaten John Gosden-trained stablemate Palace Pier, in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Andrew Balding, with three horses entered, said: “QIPCO British Champions Day has been a fantastic initiative and a credit to everyone involved. It’s been fantastic to have a British-based European championship with such tremendous prize money, and it’s something for us to be really proud of.”
Ed Vaughan thinks he has a good chance of leaving the ranks of training with Dame Malliot in Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.
The four-year-old, owned by Anthony Oppenheimer, is expected to be retired after the Group 1 feature, and Vaughan is handing in his licence after 16 years.
Dame Malliot – set to be ridden by Hollie Doyle – has won two Group 2 races for Vaughan and has been placed in Group 1 company.
Wichita, who won the Park Stakes and was runner up to Kameko in the 2000 Guineas, has suffered a fracture to his right hind leg at Australia’s Werribee International Horse Centre.
The three-year-old, trained by Aidan O’Brien, was in Australia to take part in the one-mile Group 1 Cantala Stakes at Flemington on 31 October. The injury was discovered after he did some trackwork and veterinarians will assess the injury to determine an appropriate management plan.
Sam Spinner is being earmarked for the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on 31 October 31.
The Jedd O’Keeffe trained eight-year-old, who is unbeaten from three starts over fences, missed this year’s Cheltenham Festival following a pelvic injury when winning a Grade 2 novice chase at Doncaster, and had four months of box rest but has been back in exercise since June.
Saturday 17 October (1.00 – 4.30) ITV1
- 1.20 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2)
- 1.55 Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1)
- 2.30 Qipco British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes (Group 1)
- 3.05 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored by QIPCO (Group 1)
- 3.40 Qipco Champion Stakes (British Champions Middle Distance) (Group 1)
- 4.15 Balmoral Handicap Stakes (Sponsored By Qipco) (Class 2)