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
A warning of a “strong risk” of racecourses closing next year has been made by BHA chief executive Nick Rust.
Speaking on Sky News, Rust said: “We know of no tracks that are going to close in the immediate future – but if we don’t have any spectators in any way in 2021, we’re at a strong risk of losing racecourses.”
The concern was shared by Racecourse Association’s David Armstrong who said: “The key point in time is as we get to the end of the first quarter next year and at that point, those racecourses with major meetings throughout the spring and summer – which is a lot of racecourses – would already be on sale to the public for both general admission and hospitality.
“If that was not possible to do then the cash flow starts to get very difficult indeed for some racecourses.
“That’ s what has been behind the submissions to the government asking for financial support. A cliff edge would be over-dramatising it but it is a serious pinch point in cash flow that happens. It effectively happens in the second quarter next year but if we don’t see solutions on the horizon in Q1 that’s when we’ll start to be in trouble.”
An economic impact report commissioned by Go Racing in Yorkshire has said that the absence of crowds at the county’s nine courses due to the coronavirus has meant at 72% drop in economic value, from £90.8m to £25.4m.
The effect on the tracks themselves is a loss of approaching £115m.
Non-racing activities, such a conferences and weddings, reduce the value by a further £49.4m to £114.8m
The report was supported by the Racing Foundation and was produced after Sheffield Hallam University’s Principal Research Fellow Ian Wilson (pictured) investigated the economic impact racing has to Yorkshire.
Go Racing In Yorkshire chairman John Sexton said: “This timely piece of research reinforces how vital horseracing is to the Yorkshire and rural economy plus the social and community aspect of the industry. It underlines that the sooner we can get back to normality the better.”
The Melbourne Cup will take place at Flemington without the presence of owners or spectators due to government coronavirus restrictions.
After a 46-year training career, James Bethell is handing over the reins to his son Ed who will take over the licence at Bethell’s Middleham stables on 1 January.
“I think younger people can work with all the technology and modern communications better than us older folk and I thought it was a good time to do it,” said Bethell, 68.
“Edward has had a good grounding, he’s been to Gai Waterhouse in Australia, he did a stint in America, he’s had spells with Charlie Hills and with Robert Cowell, and he’s been assistant here. He’s on the ball and ready to take up the challenge.
“I’m still going to stay in the background – instead of him criticising me, I can criticise him! We did look at becoming joint trainers but I think it’s better to have it in his name so he gets all the credit if there’s credit to be had. It should work, we get on very well together and he can come to me for advice.”
Oisin Murphy has notched-up 1,000 domestic wins after the Michael Dods-trained Perfect Sign, owned by Qatar Racing for whom Murphy is retained rider, won at Southwell.
Horses and Races
Cabaret Queen could bid for further big-race success for owners Syndicates Racing and trainer Willie Mullins in the Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan on Sunday, 8 November.
The eight-year-old, winner of last season’s JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National and more recently winner of the Kerry National at Listowel is one of two entries, along with Robin Des Foret for the champion trainer in the biggest race of the season at the County Meath course.
Gordon Elliott’s Cheltenham Festival winner Milan Native represents the trainer who has won the race four times in the last six years. Elliott also has this season’s Munster National winner Aforementioned, the Grade 1 winner Death Duty, the Irish Grand National winner General Principle and Roaring Bull, a big winner at Leopardstown last Christmas, among his 13 entries.
Henry De Bromhead won the Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase with Chris’s Dream last year and he has five in the race, including the course winner Minella Times and Walk Away. Joseph O’Brien is another with five entries and his quintet is led by the novices Anything Will Do and Speak Easy.
Successful with Heist in 1997 and again with Tout Est Permis two years ago, Noel Meade has entered three, Cap York, Valdieu and the recent Gowran Park winner Brace Yourself, while Jessica Harrington could well run Sunday’s easy Galway winner Discordantly.
Fitzhenry and Portmore Lough finished second and third to Chris’s Dream in this race last year and could be back for another tilt for trainers Paul Nolan and John Kiely respectively.
Gearoid O’Loughlin has entered his Ulster National winner Space Cadet while Moyhenna, Sunday’s Wexford winner Scoir Mear and Ah Littleluck, with ground to make up on Aforementioned on their recent Limerick runs, could yet represent trainers Denis Hogan, Tom Mullins and Tom Gibney.
Global Citizen, the Ben Pauling-trained winner of the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase, is among 16 entries for the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on Tuesday.
Last time our he was fourth on soft ground in the Arkle at Cheltenham of which Pauling said: “Unfortunately for him it rained on the Monday night before Cheltenham, which turned the ground soft, and he doesn’t like it.
“Exeter has been very quick at the meetings they have had so far this season, and by the looks of the forecast coming, I would say the ground will be lovely for him there.”
Others entered are Olly Murphy’s Brewin’upastorm, Evan Williams Grade 1 winner Esprit Du Large and Venetia Williams’ Fanion D’Estruval.
Paul Nicholls has Greaneteen and Capeland, whilst Glen Forsa is due to represent Mick Channon’s and Bun Doran, third in the Champion Chase, goes for the Tom George yard.
Topofthegame, who didn’t race last season due to a leg injury, is set to return to racing action in Newbury’s Ladbrokes Trophy 28 November in a race which carries £200,000.
“We remain on target with Topofthegame, with the plan to go straight for the Ladbrokes Trophy,” said trainer Paul Nicholls.
The 2019 winner De Rasher Counter, trained by Emma Lavelle, is attempting to be the race’s first back-to-back winner since Arkle in 1965.
Lavelle said: “We are looking forward to running him again in the Ladbrokes Trophy, as well as Paisley Park, who will make his seasonal appearance in the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle on the Friday.
Colin Tizzard has the second favourite Copperhead and Kim Bailey’s has two entries with Imperial Aura and Vinndication.
This year’s race does not have any Irish runners taking part.
Heading the Paddy Power ante-post market are
- Topofthegame 9/2
- Copperhead 8/1
- Vinndication 10/1
- The Conditional 10/1
- Imperial Aura 10/1
- Danny Whizzbang 12/1
- Black Op 14/1
- De Rasher Counter 16/1
- Cloth Cap 16/1
- Slate House 20/1
- Sam Brown 20/1
- La Bague Au Roi 20/1
- Wholestone 20/1
- Two For Gold 20/1
- Hold The Note 20/1
- Secret Investor 20/1
Simply The Betts, who gave trainer Harry Whittington his first Festival winner when taking this year’s Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase, is lined up for a run in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on 14 November. He’s 12/1 with the sponsors.
One of his opponents could be Happy Diva (20/1), who was second in the Festival race and won last season’s Paddy Power Gold Cup.
Whittington said: “I have been delighted with how Simply The Betts has summered – I am thrilled with him to be honest with you.
We are looking forward to this season with him
Imperial Aura (8/1), who beat 20 home in the Listed Northern Trust Company Handicap Chase for Kim Bailey, is a further Festival winner.
Seven entries hale from Paul Nicholls’ yard including 6/1 favourite Saint Sonnet. Greaneteen (8/1) and Southfield Stone (16/1), who won Saturday’s Matchbook Novices Chase at Cheltenham, are also potential Ditcheat runners.
Mister Fisher (14/1) is one of a quartet entered by Nicky Henderson, with Nigel Twiston-Davies putting in Al Dancer and Good Boy Bobby. Both are 14/1.
At 11/1 Cepage for Vanessa Williams is fourth in the Paddy Power ante-post book and the David Pipe-trained Siruh Du Lac (14/1) is also earmarked for the Newbury race.
Betting and Bookmakers
Ladbrokes and Corals have sold their 106 on-course pitches at tracks in Britain and Ireland, saying they no longer had a “strategic purpose”. The buyer is racecourse bookmaker Sid Hooper who two years ago paid William Hill £2m for their 82 on-course sites.
Pitches at Ascot, Cheltenham and York were among 85 sites on British tracks, plus 21 in Ireland.
Robin Grossmith, chairman of the Rails Bookmakers Association, said: “It’s disappointing to see Ladbrokes and Coral leave the on-course market. They were significant and historic layers who were greatly respected, it’s one I’ve got to get my head around really.
“They were the leaders in the field and it’s a sign of the times that the off-course industry is going in a different direction. They’re a sad loss to the racecourse market. Being involved on course doesn’t suit their business operations going forward, although I can’t understand why that would be the case.
“Ladbrokes and Coral were market leaders because of their early shows and other bookmakers would use them as a price guide initially as they do overnight and early-morning business which gives a feel for the market. However, the ring is robust and will remain so in the future and it’s good to see John [Hooper] has complete faith in the on-course market.”
Online bookmakers Racebets and Betsafe are no longer operating in the UK. The Stockholm based parent company Betsson made the decision to remove the brands from the UK market in order to concentrate on one single gaming brand, Rizk.
Betsson said in a statement: “The UK regulatory framework has undergone significant changes in the past few years, requiring extensive investments both in technology and regulatory compliance, as well as marketing, which is not sustainable with the group’s current UK set-up.”
Customers of the affected eight brands will have all deposits repaid and all outstanding bets will be paid out as winning bets.
Media and Sponsorship
Sky Sports Racing has formed a partnership with the BHA’s ‘Step on Track’ Programme, designed to develop interest in racing from those groups currently underrepresented in horseracing.
Conceived by the BHA’s Careers in Racing team, the first ‘Step on Track’ is a week-long programme aimed at 16 to 19-year-olds via Zoom sessions running across the week 26-30 October. The programme comprises a series of talks involving high-profile names from across all areas of the horseracing industry.
Sky Sports has promoted ‘Step on Track’ via weekly emails, social media posts, banners on attheraces.com, as well as interviews on Sky Sports Racing with Zoe Elliott, Head of Careers Marketing and Recruitment at the BHA.
Moving forward, and in partnership with the BHA, the broadcaster will use its breadth of media platforms to introduce people to racing from diverse ethnic backgrounds and encourage them to consider a career within it.
♦ 16 to 19 year-olds with an ethnic minority background are invited to register their interest at email@example.com or DM via social on @careersinracing
SATURDAY 31 OCTOBER (1.00 – 4.00) ITV4
- 1.20 ASCOT UNDERWRITING NOVICES’ LIMITED HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE
- 1.55 tote.co.uk HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE (Listed Race)
- 3.05 SODEXO HANDICAP HURDLE RACE (Listed Race)
- 3.40 SODEXO GOLD CUP HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE (Grade 3)
- 1.35 bet365 HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 3)
- 2.10 bet365 MARES’ HURDLE RACE (Listed Race)
- 2.45 bet365 HURDLE RACE (Grade 2)
- 3.20 bet365 CHARLIE HALL STEEPLE CHASE (Grade 2) (GBB RACE)
- 2.25 Ladbrokes Champion Chase (Grade 1)