News Update

RICHARD JOHNSON BREAKS ARM

21 January: Richard Johnson has broken his arm after a fall at Exeter. He was unseated from his mount Westend Story at the sixth fence and was subsequently trampled on by Fox Pro.

He was taken to hospital and where it has been confirmed he has broken his arm between the elbow and the hand, and it will be plated on Wednesday or Thursday.

The trainer of Westend Story, Phillip Hobbs, said “He’s very positive and said he’ll definitely be back for Cheltenham no problem.

“Hopefully he’ll be riding before Cheltenham, but it’s obviously going to be more than a month before he is riding again.

 

 


PUMPTON TO STAGE ADDITIONAL FIXURE

17 January:  The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced that an additional Jump fixture will take place at Plumpton on Monday 20 January. 

The afternoon fixture will be a six-race card, with entries closing tomorrow, Saturday 18 January at 12 noon. Declarations are required by 10am on Sunday 19 January. The first race will be at 1.40pm. 


BHA CHIEF NICK RUST QUITS
14 January: The BHA’s Chief Executive Nick Rust will step down at the end of the year after nearly six years leading racing’s governing body and regulator.
Mr Rust signalled his departure in a message to staff today. In his message he said:
“I’ve spent much of the past year reflecting on my situation after my personal bereavement at the end of 2018. I wanted to let you and the BHA know my decision and plans well ahead of leaving to allow plenty of time for a successor to be identified and appointed
“This is a fantastic job leading a team of passionate, hard-working people who want racing to have a prosperous and sustainable future as a clean, fair sport that looks after its horses and its people. You demonstrated that visibly with all the effort you put in to resolve the equine flu problems last year but I know how much more unseen work is going on across the BHA to progress our sport. I am hugely proud of what you do for British racing and thank you all.
“With the committed support of our new Chair, Annamarie Phelps, the BHA has put itself, and helped put our sport, in a place where we can be optimistic about our future. The foundations for success are in place. Only this afternoon, I spent several hours with our Executive team reviewing our plans for 2020. We have a busy and exciting year ahead.
“The industry’s Horse Welfare Board which the BHA and our members set up only eight months ago is finalising an ambitious strategy for further improvement of racing’s exceptional standards of care for our horses. For me, it will be a landmark moment after an unrelenting focus on this issue over the past few years. I’ll begin the process of implementing the plan to deliver the BHA’s part of the strategy, but given my decision, it’s the right time for someone else to pick up the challenge of delivering on these ambitions through a programme of work we expect to take five years or more.
“The BHA has also completed some other important work over the past few months, which I have personally championed. We published the review of the buying and selling of horses just before Christmas. We have established a safeguarding team to protect young and vulnerable people in our sport. Our new approach to raceday stewarding is bedding in and the industry is picking up the challenge on diversity and inclusion as we saw so vividly in 2019 through the amazing story of Khadijah Mellah and the remarkable achievements of our female jockeys.
“If I look back further, I’m very proud of the way the sport came together to secure a very important change to the Levy in 2017. Without it, racing’s finances would be in a more difficult place than they currently are. The BHA team I lead worked hard over several years to put forward the arguments to government and the industry ensured that a consistent, simple message was communicated to Parliamentarians and the media. It’s an important reminder of the influence that racing can exert when we work together in a common purpose.
“Of course, there’s always more to do and racing faces its share of challenges as any sport or business does. The job’s never done. But my successor can look forward to the support of a top-class Chair and an expert Board, a capable and excellent team and an industry that when it comes together and works in a collaborative way can be highly effective.
“2020 promises to be a great year for British racing. I believe we can achieve many more things together this year if we continue to focus on a progressive approach that keeps British racing relevant, understood and accepted.”
Commenting on the announcement, the BHA’s Chair, Annamarie Phelps, said:
“We’re all going to miss Nick’s passion and drive. It is typical of his deep commitment to British racing that he’s given us plenty of time to find a new leader, avoiding a vacuum and ensuring a seamless transition. He’s been a great help to me personally over the last few months as I’ve got to know the sport and the industry. We’Il be using all our complementary skills over the next few months to keep racing moving forward.”
The BHA will begin the process of selecting a new Chief Executive in the next few weeks.


JOCKEY CLUB RACECOURSES CHIEF QUITS
14 January: Paul Fisher is to stand down as Chief Executive of Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR) in February, after a long period of service with The Jockey Club group.
Fisher has worked for The Jockey Club for 19 years, initially joining JCR (then known as Racecourse Holdings Trust) at the start of 2001 as Finance Director of its three London racecourses. He was promoted to Managing Director of Kempton Park in 2005, before taking on responsibility for running the UK’s leading racecourse group in 2008 as JCR’s Chief Operating Officer. He was made Managing Director in 2013 and its Chief Executive in 2017.
JCR stages more than 300 horseracing fixtures each year at its 15 venues nationwide, including some of the nation’s biggest events, such as The Festival presented by Magners at Cheltenham, the Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree and The Investec Derby Festival at Epsom Downs.
Paul Fisher said: “After 19 fantastic years at The Jockey Club, and more than ten of those running Jockey Club Racecourses, I’ve decided it’s time for a fresh challenge. I’m proud of the commercial growth, record prize money contributions and significant improvements to our facilities and the overall customer experience we’ve been able to deliver around the country at our courses, large and small.
“I’ve also really enjoyed introducing a range of innovations and launching successful ventures, such as Jockey Club Catering, Jockey Club Services, Jockey Club Live and Rewards4Racing, as well as our Racecourse Bond that attracted £25 million of investment from racing fans and enabled us to successfully redevelop Cheltenham.
“But most of all I’m proud of how we’ve developed so many talented people, including through the Management Academy I introduced, and the positive culture we’ve built together. I wish them all the very best.”


BAN ON USING CREDIT CARDS FOR BETTING

14 January: Betting by credit cards will be banned on 14 April the Gambling Commission has announced. The ban will apply to all online and offline gambling products with the exception of non-remote lotteries.

Neil McArthur, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said: “Credit card gambling can lead to significant financial harm. The ban that we have announced today should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have. 

“We know that there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability.

“There is also evidence that the fees charged by credit cards can exacerbate the situation because the consumer can try to chase losses to a greater extent.

“We realise this change will inconvenience those consumers who use credit cards responsibly but we’re satisfied reducing the risk of harm to other consumers means that action must be taken. But we will evaluate the ban and watch closely for any unintended circumstances for consumers.

The announcement comes after research undertaken by the Gambling Commission revealed 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are classed as problem gamblers.


BHA SENDING VET TO LOOK AT ALTIOR WHO STILL HOLDS KEMPTON ENTRY
8 January: The BHA is sending a vet to trainer Nicky Henderson’s yard to examine Altior who has not actually been scratched from Saturday’s Silviniaco Conti Chase despite Henderson ruling out the horse from running in the Kempton race. The BHA has also asked Henderson (pictured) to clarify Altior’s participation “in the interests of fairness and transparency”.

With Altior still officially a runner the BHA said:
“As a result of this, the BHA has, in the first instance, spoken with Mr Henderson  and reminded him of his obligation under the rules to immediately scratch a horse if, at any time between closing and the deadline for declarations, the trainer becomes aware that the horse is not going to run.
“The BHA has also arranged for a BHA veterinary surgeon to examine the horse tomorrow (Thursday).
“In the interests of fairness and transparency for racing fans and the betting public, it is for Mr Henderson to clarify his plans publicly as soon as he can.
“The BHA will monitor the situation but we won’t comment on wider issues or any potential rule breaches at this point.”
Nicky Henderson said: “I have nothing further to add to what is in the BHA statement this evening.”


CHELTENHAM FORCED TO DENY FESTIVAL CHANGES
8 January: Cheltenham Racecourse has been forced to deny plans to extend the Festival to a fifth day or include Saturday as part of the Festival meeting.
Speculation had been rife since Martin St Quinton, the track’s new chairman, told ITV Racing that nothing had been ruled in or out in regard to extending the Festival or change the days on which it occurs.
That speculation was fuelled when trainer Alan King wrote in his weekly Racing Post Weekender column that he’d had a “long chat” with St Quinton during which King said he was now in favour of extending the Festival to five days after listening to St Quinton outlining the benefits of extending the meeting.

With some interpreting King’s report of the chat with St Quinton as indicating an official line, Cheltenham issued a statement saying “We have four fantastic days of the Festival running Tuesday to Friday, and no plans for a fifth day.”
A number of issues facing a fifth day, run on a Saturday, were highlighted, including logistical factors, strong competition from other sports, primarily football and rugby, with subsequent squeeze on media coverage, and reduced appeal of corporate entertaining on a Saturday.
It was added that establishing a Festival Saturday was a much sterner challenge than many people think.

  •  Improving the scheduling of race times through periods of congestion so that there would be fewer clashes and delayed races
  • Reducing the number of 35-minute intervals and introduce a more even distribution of time between races
  • Reducing on-the-day hold requests, thus enabling BHA and HRI officials to frame raceday timetables from an earlier stage
  • Broadcasters would be able to draw up their running orders to the published off-times rather than having to request delays
  • The risk of avoidable near-clashes – whereby one race is only held until seconds after the preceding race has concluded – should reduce as racecourses would be expected to adhere to the published off-time
  • Off-course punters and the viewing public would be fully appraised of the scheduled off time.