It’s far from easy to stamp ones imprimatur on a high-profile race that for many years has been synonymous a long-term sponsor, but credit to Ladbrokes in their support of what was the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Replacing Gold Cup in the race name with Trophy helped make for a clean break, as did referring to the meeting as the Ladbrokes Jumps Carnival, a term favoured by Australian racing and one which could catch on here, where “festival” has been done to death.
At Newbury the signage left nobody in doubt who was backing the meeting, as did the sponsorship of every race across the two days.
There are many races and meetings still referred to by their legacy names and the “Hennessy” will be no different (Mick Fitzgerald was off-message on ITV Racing), but Ladbrokes are expert of getting the most out of their sponsorship, and introduced their support of Newbury’s feature jumps fixture with gusto and should be pleased with its first outing.
Long may the Berkshire track have their support.
It was a stupid thing of Hayley Turner to do to open a betting account after retiring from the saddle but still having a jockey’s license. It was undoubtedly a transgression of the rules, but there was no breach of security or discernible damage to racing’s integrity. Her betting transactions netted a profit of £160 from average stakes of £18.62.
So a three-month ban to my mind is pernicious. I think the public embarrassment will have hurt Turner enormously; I don’t think Turner’s ban is going to make anyone have second thoughts about having a betting account when they shouldn’t; and a fine, along the lines of £2,000 as argued for by Turner’s legal representative Rory Mac Neice, would have been apposite and could have benefited any of a number of racing-related charities.
There are some in racing who have been given fines, sometimes seemingly lenient given their actions, when a loss of their license for a period of time would have been justifiable punishment.
In the case of Hayley Turner and circumstances of her breach of the rules, a fine would have been sensible and sufficient.
Could Politologue’s Betfair Tingle Creek win herald a comeback of big-race big-hitters for Paul Nichols? It would certainly make the race for the jumps trainer championship more interesting.
It’s amazing that the master of Ditcheat has been able to make a fist of it by his careful placing of runners, but ultimately the big purses elude him and Nicky Henderson Hoovers up the Grade 1 victories to seal the championship.
It can only by good for racing if Nichols is again building an arsenal of top-class horses to sustain a battle for the honours. It may not be this year but it will have us enthralled if he can again field horse good enough to challenge for the top prizes.
Well done the Racing Post for selling out of its Christmas Jumpers with proceeds going to Racing Welfare. I got mine, the one depicting Enable ice-skating, and it’s still the same size as last year. Er, extra large.
Two consecutive weekends and racegoers were badly let down by train operators.
On the first day of Newbury’s Ladbroke Jumps Carnival only one through train ran from London Paddington to the track’s adjacent station. Or, it should have done.
The three carriage train, standing room only, went past its departure time with nothing happening except for a couple of railway staff standing on the platform looking at the stationary train.
It was only after an enquiry to Great Western Railways on twitter that it emerged there was a problem, and those in the know dashed to another train to get to Newbury via Reading. Many were none the wiser, and the train was eventually cancelled because of a flooded toilet, leaving angry passengers at Paddington without a service to get them to the racecourse in time for the first race. Those who did get to Reading boarded a three coach train already packed with passengers travelling from the Berkshire town.
Next day, Great Western Railways again ran only one through train to Newbury Racecourse. Its departure time was such that it arrived more than two hours before the first race.
A week later and it was the turn of South Western Railways, sister operator to Greater Western Railways and the new franchise holder for services to Esher for Sandown Park.
On Tingle Creek Day they seemed to be completely caught out by one of the busiest days racing taking place at the Surrey track. There were only two trains an hour comprising four coaches, half the usual quota for a Saturday raceday.
Trains were leaving London Waterloo, again standing room only, and down the line passengers were stranded on platforms unable to get on board. Belatedly, other trains were making extra stops but only one additional service would have got racegoers to Sandown in time for the first race.
And there was also problems at Esher station where the four coach trains disgorged their passenger loads onto a crowded platform raising safety concerns, which the racecourse said it would be talking to South Western Railways about.