Jump racing’s finale flourish
Sandown’s Jumps Finale fixture delivered the goods in terms of finishing the 2018/19 season with a flourish:
♦ Altior made it a record-breaking 19 successive victories when taking the bet365 Celebration Chase with an intrepid front-running performance under Nico de Boinville to overhaul Big Bucks’ 18 wins, with trainer Nicky Henderson commenting: “As Noco said, he had to keep the revs up the whole way round and he was going a good rattle, but his jumping keeps him going like that.”
♦ Talkischeap ran out the 10-length winner of the bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase for trainer Alan King, with the Young Master running a good race for second place. For winning jockey Wayne Hutchinson, it was his biggest win and barring any mishaps it looked like victory was his from three fences out.
♦ On her first day back from recovering from a broken collarbone, Bryony Frost was crowned champion conditional jockey and won the bet365 Oaksey Chase on Black Corton, her eighth win on the gelding for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, to notch up her 50th win of the season
With Silvestre de Sousa aboard, Bangkok won Sandown’s bet365 Classic Trial for King Power Racing in the colours of the late Leicester City chairman Vichai Strivaddhanaprabha and trained by Andrew Balding, and earned a 12/1 quote for the Derby. Runner-up Technician might have got closer to the one-and-a-quarter-length winner had it not been trapped in a pocket, and could well reverse the form if the two meet again.
♦ Earlier in the week, the Aiden O’Brien trained Cape Of Good Hope (pictured) looked a stronger candidate for the Epsom classic with an efficient win in the Investec Blue Riband Trial under Ryan Moore and gaining track experience will have done him no harm if he lines up on 1 June
Seven-up for Cork
Cork’s new seven-furlong straight has received the thumbs-up after trials and will be introduced into the course’s race-distance portfolio at the 10 May fixture – work began to extend the six-furlong sprint track in 2017 and it will be Ireland’s second seven-furlong straight, to be known as the Matchbook Straight Seven
Grounds for concern
Plumpton suffered a walk-over at its Easter Monday fixture, and the prestigious 2m3f £50,000 William Hill Sussex Champion Chase was reduced to three runners (from 22 entries) after the ground, described as good, came in for criticism. Trainer Christ Gordon removed his horse from the two-two runner 2m1f chase saying he was unhappy about conditions at two of the back straight fences, but clerk of the course Mark Cornford denied there were any problems
♦ The winner of the walk-over also received the best turned out award
Makin comes back to train a winner
Philip Makin, who had his final ride as a jockey at Redcar last August when a fall ended his riding career, returned to the track to train his first winner, Galloway Hills, a month after receiving his trainers’ licence
Jockey Club warns of financial challenges
Whilst reporting its tenth year of financial growth, the Jockey Club has warned that the levy may have to help out with regard to prize money as the racecourse group faces potential lower media rights income due to expected betting shop closures caused by the cut to maximum FOBT stakes from £100 to £2.
♦The Jockey Club, which owns racecourses including Cheltenham, Epsom, Haydock and Newmarket and the Newmarket gallops, generated £214.6m in 2018, up 6.7% on prior year, and contributed £27.1m prize-money, up from £22.9m in 2017. Regarding prize-money, Simon Bazalgette said: “I don’t think we’re going to be going back much below what we were contributing in 2017. After 2020 or maybe 2021, depending on how long the decline in shops happens, I’d expect us to be returning to growth and putting money back into prize-money.”
Rights payments top £100m
The 37 racecourses which have their media rights contracts with Racecourse Media Group will receive approaching a record £100m generated from media and data income last year. Whilst a breakdown of the source of media rights is not reported, RMG chairman Roger Lewis said the effect of the cut in maximum FOBT gaming machines in betting shops would “significantly reduce financial contribution” to racing. RMG’s 37 racecourses include those owned by the Jockey Club, and Ascot, Goodwood, Newbury and York amongst others.
♦ RMG said that the rebranded Racing TV had doubled its Irish subscription base in the first three months of 2019 to just under 12,000 but acknowledged there had been criticism of Irish racing coverage and feedback was being reviewed
♦ ITV received praise from RMG for its coverage of racing, with its chief executive Richard Fitzgerald saying: “The audiences that ITV provide to racing create an important shop window for the sport and ITV values the importance of having racing as part of its sports portfolio. We are confident that racing and ITV will continue to work harder than ever to expand racing’s shop window and engage with new audience’s and innovate production and storytelling”
Ladbrokes Coral call for end of sports broadcasting ads
GVC Holdings, owner of Ladbroke Coral, has called for an end to all broadcast sports betting advertising, with the exception of horseracing, a proposal which goes a long way further than the already agreed measure to halt whistle-to-whistle advertising pre-watershed which is due begin with the start of the next football season. GVC also want ban advertising on hoardings at football grounds
The BHA is spending an initial £1m to study how racing can protect itself from gene manipulation through research to be undertaken by the LGC Laboratory in Newmarket who will investigate a number of possible applications such as changing breeding outcomes, improving performance, and recovery from raceday exertion and injury
Atzeni ban upheld
Andrea Atzeni failed in his appeal to have a six-day ban picked up on the final day of Newmarket’s Craven meeting when the stewards found him guilty of using his whip four times in the wrong place on the winner of a one-mile handicap, the Alan King trained Beringer. Atzeni will not now be able to ride at the Guineas meeting after he failed to have the ban reduced to four days.
Newbury train boost
Great Western Railway are laying on eight-coach trains to Newbury Racecourse when the track’s Group 1 Lockinge Stakes take place on 18 May. The train operator is frequently criticised for trains of only two or three coaches on racedays, and lack of through trains from London.