The Racing Hub Round-up: the week’s top stories
Your weekly round-up of top racing stories in a nutshell, plus upcoming fixtures and TV races
Racing and Racecourses
An extra £5 million has been received by the Levy Board which was found to be owed by bookmakers for the 2018-19 levy year.
Last May the Board reported that the levy income was unexpectedly down by £17m to £78m on the prior year.
Of the possible reasons for the decline, one was bookmaker offers made during the Cheltenham Festival in March, including a cash-back offer by Sky Bet which saw their customer numbers grow by more than 30% during the Festival.
Subsequently, the Levy Board asked bookmakers if they had offered cash back as part of promotions and, if so, how they’d treated them in terms of levy payments.
Legal advice to the Board was that bookmakers should not class cash refunds to punters as customer ‘winnings’, thus reducing a bookmaker’s gross profit on racing and therefore the amount paid to the levy, racing’s centralised fund.
As a result, a number of operators submitted revised returns, resulting in the levy yield for the period being adjusted to £83m.
The Levy Board said it was “grateful to bookmakers for their constructive and cooperative approach and the timeliness of their responses to enquiries”.
The BHA will announce its “unrivalled” equine welfare strategy on Thursday, amid calls that racing’s equine welfare should not be the responsibility of the regulatory body.
♦The Racing Hub will contain full details of the strategy on its publication.
Two races are to be restaged following earlier abandonments
The Kingwell Hurdle will take place at Kempton Park on Saturday 22 February. The fixture will now be an eight-race card. The race will be televised by ITV in addition to the four existing graded contests from the fixture.
The Jane Seymour Mares Novices’ Hurdle will be run at Warwick on Friday 21 February. This fixture will now be an eight-race card.
Three of Arena Racing Company’s tracks were the only ones to receive a single-star rating for racecourse stable staff facilities in the annual survey by the National Association of Racing Staff.
Bottom of the poll were Arc tracks Chepstow, Windsor and Worcester.
The racecourses which received five-star ratings were:
- Newton Abbot
Three lots purchased at a cost of nine-million guineas by Sheikh Mohammed are to be trained by Charlie Appleby.
Usually, new bloodstock acquisitions are shared among Sheikh Mohammed’s main trainers, but the decision is seen as a reward for Appleby after his 2019 training performance with top two-year-old Pinatubo, rated the best newcomer for 25 years.
Brian Hughes’ campaign to win the jump jockeys’ championship took a dent when he received three-day ban for weighing-in light.
He was first past the post in a Carlisle race on Monday but the clerk of the scales objected to the stewards when he was short of his required weight.
It transpired that horse and jockey had parted company with a weight cloth, weighing about 3lb, and lead weighing 4.5lb. The cloth and lead were subsequently found on the horse-walk but it couldn’t be proved that the horse ran the race with the cloth and weight
Hughes is to appeal.
A fracture to his T6 vertebra means jockey Paul Hanagan is facing a lengthy absence from race-riding.
The injury was sustained when his mount, Requinto Dawn, clipped heels and Hanagan took a heavy fall at Newcastle.
Frankie Dettori will have his first British ride of year when he partners Dubai Warrior in the Group 3 Betfair Winter Derby at Lingfield.
Pic D’Orhy, who won Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle at 33/1, is among 12 entries for the rearranged Betway Kingwell Hurdle, which is being run at Kempton on Saturday after being lost to Wincanton’s abandoned meeting.
Connections of the five-year-old have not ruled out supplementing him for the Unibet Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Jessica Harrington is upbeat on 10-year-old Supasundae’s chances in the Unibet Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The three-times Grade 1 winner ran promisingly when fourth in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown earlier this month, and Harrington is keen to run him in the two-mile contest, having participated in the Stayers’ Hurdle the past two years.
“He’s in great form and I was absolutely thrilled with the way he ran in Leopardstown. He got off to a very slow start this year and he’ll come on a ton for that,” she said.
Other plans for the Moone, County Kildare trainer are for Neverushacon to run in the Glenfarclas cross-country following a win over the banks at Punchestown, while Silver Sheen’s preferred race is the Pertemps Final.
Harrington said of the six-year-old: “He is qualified for the Pertemps Final. I’ve taken a chance by not running him since he won in Warwick and I just hope his mark of 136 will get him in.
“If he doesn’t get in, he’ll go for the Albert Bartlett.”
Last season’s Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light will be bypassing Cheltenham and the Mare’s Hurdle, and will go straight to Aintree.
The easy win by Cilaos Emery in the Grade 3 Red Mills Trial Hurdle has persuaded trainer Willie Mullins to supplement the eight-year-old for the Unibet Champion Hurdle at a cost of £22,500 after his victory at Gowran Park on Saturday.
Cilaos Emery beat Darasso by 9½l in the two-mile contest on heavy. He made a couple of jumping errors, but pushed on in the closing stage to take the race comfortably.
Two other potential Mullins Festival candidates are Penhill and Bachasson following their outings in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
Of the third finishing Bachasson, Mullins said “I’ll look for a nice race for him somewhere. He looked as though he could come on for the run and he could run in the Coral Cup,”, adding, “Penhill will run in the Stayers’ Hurdle next.”
It is thought that dehydration was the reason for 11-year old One For Arthur suffering from a fibrillating heart when being pulled up in Haydock’s Unibet Grand National Trial.
“He’s wearing that (ECG heart-rate monitor) and it will be sent back and will be analysed to see if there are any off beats or anything that might cause him to go in to atrial fibrillation again.
“The ECG monitor will tell us if there is any other reason for atrial fibrillation, but at the moment the consensus is he was dehydrated and that caused his heart to go into AF. There is no anatomical reason he should do that.
“Until we get the ECG report we won’t know if everything is perfect.”
Trainer Gordon Elliott said he was “absolutely thrilled with Tiger Roll” after he finished fifth in the Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne Hurdle at Navan, won by stablemate Cracking Smart
Elliott said: ” Keith (Donoghue) said he cantered to the second-last and just said he blew up. I couldn’t be happier.
“The way he travelled into the race, a blind man could see you’d have to be happy. He thought he was going to win at the second-last, but he had a blow then and rode him hands and heels to the line.
“I told Keith to follow them around and if you beat one or two home, I’d be thrilled. I thought there were a lot of plusses to be taken out of the race and once he is OK in the morning, that is all we wanted.
“He said he pulled the arms out of him the whole way and we can look forward to the cross-country race (at Cheltenham) now.”
He added: “We’re thrilled and once he is all right in the morning it will be all systems go for Cheltenham and all being well the Randox Health Grand National.
While Cracking Smart took the honours for Gigginstown House Stud and trainer Gordon Elliott, Tiger Roll raced with real enthusiasm for much of the way as he prepares to bid for a fifth win at the Cheltenham Festival and third successive Randox Health Grand National.
Winner of this race 12 months ago, Tiger Roll only lost fourth place close home, having jumped well and travelled nicely after being held up in the rear through the early part of the two-mile five-furlong contest.
♦ See The Racing Hub’s Grand National weights special feature http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-3qa
Betting and Bookmakers
A two-year review preceded yesterday’s announcement that the Gambling Commission had suspended the licence of Triplebet, trading as Matchbook, a betting exchange. The two parties have now issued further statements.
A Triplebet spokesman said: “The company takes its responsibility as a betting and gaming operator very seriously and accepts the UKGC panel’s findings following a two-year review.
“Triplebet believes that compliance goes to the heart of offering a betting exchange product, and through the introduction of new policies and the establishment of a Compliance Committee, Triplebet has shown that it is committed to achieving any standard of compliance required of it.
“Last year Triplebet engaged a third-party compliance specialist in order to elevate its standard of compliance beyond what is required by the UKGC. Over the coming weeks these recommendations will be completed in full, and an independent audit will be carried out with a view to the licence being reinstated.”
A statement released by the Gambling Commission read: “The Gambling Commission has undertaken a Licence review under s116 of the Gambling Act 2005 (“the Act”) into Triplebet Limited t/a Matchbook.
“The Commission has determined to suspend the above operating licence insofar as it pertains to the operator’s ability to offer remote facilities for pool betting, betting intermediary and to operate a remote casino.
As part of a licence review, the commission has taken the decision to suspend the licence of Triplebet with immediate effect. Further information will be available in due course.”
Bookmaker share prices dropped sharply last week after news that the Gambling Commission was committed to deciding in the next six months if online gaming stakes should be reduced.
A Gambling Commission spokesperson said:
“We said last October that we would be looking at online stake limits as a part of our work to reduce the risks of gambling related harm. This work is in addition to us focussing on VIP practices, advertising technology and game-design. We will publish our assessment and the next steps for online stakes and further protections later thus year.”
Upcoming TV racing
Saturday 22 February
Kempton: 1.50, 2.20, 3.02 and 3.35
Lingfield: 2.05 and 3.15
Subject to change. ITV4
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