Lifting the lid on unscrupuluous bloodstock practices
There has been disquiet for some time surrounding certain practices in the buying and selling of bloodstock.
It is something with which the BHA has become concerned as, whilst it does not have the authority to regulate the selling of bloodstock, it is an aspect closely associated with the sport where it’s said conduct has not been all that it should be.
The BHA therefore commissioned a report of the process and its regulation in order to establish to what extent, if any, the selling of bloodstock included underhand practices. In certain quarters, there was considerable hostility directed towards the BHA’s examination.
With the review completed, the BHA met with many of the industry’s stakeholders to discuss its findings and consider what might be done to remove any unscrupulous activities. The talks were said to be productive.
Not long after, the BHA’s report was leaked to the Racing Post. It detailed actions undertaken by a minority of people involved in the selling of bloodstock which were considered to be bordering on the illegal.
The Post duly gave the leaked report extensive coverage. It is what a newspaper should do.
Many were relieved the report’s content was out in the open, as some had been the victims of practices which, if nothing else, had left them feeling intimidated and exploited by unscrupulous people.
It also rattled a few cages. So much so that some advertising has been withdrawn from the Racing Post because it published the report. This was not gutter journalism. It was a story which needed to be told.
There will be some pain in the reduction of advertising revenue caused by the Post publishing the report but, for the good of the sport, it is well worth it and the sooner the selling of bloodstock is cleaned up the better.
A bit of help from Newmarket wouldn’t go amiss
It’s good to see Newmarket Racecourse joining the area’s local authorities in calling for an improvement to the railway service to the Suffolk town.
Whilst there has been a relatively recent introduction of new rolling-stock, meaning trains have increased to a mighty three carriages, trains only running hourly makes travelling on racedays akin to being in the proverbial cattle-truck.
But what continues to frustrate is that, whilst the Jockey Club racecourse acknowledges the shortcomings of the train service, it does little to help racegoers get to the Rowley Mile or July Course.
Shuttle buses run from the town’s station and the high street (pictured), which is fine if you’ve got to Newmarket. But, from Cambridge, a growing rail travel hub 14-miles away, Newmarket provides just one coach to the racecourse.
On the course’s website racegoers are advised to book in advance but are warned tickets go off-sale 48-hours before raceday. It feels like you are being set a challenge.
In the great scheme of things, surely Newmarket could take a punt and have two coaches leaving Cambridge.
Still shunning British sponsorship
A week after Ladbrokes were announced the new sponsors of Kempton’s Christmas Festival, the “magic sign” added the jump season’s first Grade 1 to its sponsorship portfolio.
Northern Ireland’s Down Royal’s three-mile chase, to be known as the Ladbrokes Champion Chase and which has been won in the past by the likes of Don Cossack, Kauto Star and Looks Like Trouble, will have £140,000 prize-money.
It’s a great shot in the arm for one of the north’s two tracks which, despite being regulated by Horse Racing Ireland, are outside the Republic’s funding operation. Life can, therefore, be a little precarious given that some in the province are not necessarily well-disposed towards racing and its association with gambling.
Following the early-November race at Down Royal is the Ladbroke-sponsored Newbury Winter Festival later in the month, the Hennessy that was, with Kempton’s Boxing Day feature close behind.
It represents a breakout of peace between Ladbrokes and many of Britain’s top racecourse when they, and other bookmakers, including Betfred, Paddy Power and William Hill, were barred from sponsoring as they didn’t get accreditation from racecourses due to their overseas online betting revenue from British racing failing to reach the Levy’s coffers.
Now that such revenue is obliged to be part of the bookmakers’ Levy contribution, the ban has been lifted and most of the layers are back supporting British racing, with Betfred not long ago joining forces with Ascot.
But one operator still shuns the British tracks. There’s no sponsorship on the British side of the Irish Sea from Paddy Power. It appears they still carry a grievance from the racecourse ban, so green baseball caps, T-shirts and, er, underpants are no-longer dished out to racing’s fashionistas.
We’ll have to see if this remains the status-quo, especially as the self-imposed bookmaker TV advertising ban during live sports has begun. A lot of the top races have gone to Paddy’s rivals who clearly think its worth the investment.
It would be interesting to see if PP relent.
Speeding through the St Leger
The final British Classic of the season, the St Leger, takes centre-stage in ITV’s Saturday racing coverage, something highlighted in the Radio Times:
“The last of the annual Classics on the flat, the one-mile, six-furlong St Leger at Doncaster is also the oldest of them, having first been run way back in 1776. It’s the longest Classic, even though it’ll be over in about three minutes – definitely one for the speed merchants.” Bless.
Now that these scribblings have been posted, it’s off to Irish Champions Weekend to see eight Group 1 races in the flesh, plus others on TV both sides of the English channel.
The earlier than planned start at Leopardstown on Saturday is not an issue especially as I can stay at the track and watch the replay of the All-Ireland Football Final between Kerry and Dublin (come on the Dubs).
Drink might be taken so an All-Ireland Full Breakfast will be the ideal route to recovery the morning after. But therein lies the problem. Racing at the Curragh the next day gets underway at 1.20. That means a train from Heuston Station around 11am.
Sausages, bacon, eggs, black pudding, white pudding, potato furls, mushrooms, tomato, soda bread – you can’t rush them. It’s going to be tight getting that train.