Smullen retires, the Curragh reopens and Ballydoyle deals in guineas
Pat Smullen retires
After recovering from pancreatic cancer, Irish champion jockey and Derby winner Pat Smullen announced his retirement from the saddle after taking medical advice. Only the day before his retirement he spoke at the Curragh of looking forward to being back in the saddle, but after explaining to his doctors what returning to race riding would mean, not least returning to a riding weight, they advised it would be unwise to go down that route.
Two weeks away from his 42nd birthday, Smullen rode his first winner in 1993, was Irish champion jockey nine times, the first achieved in 2000, and won the Derby on Harzand in 2016
Do I hear two guineas, 10 guineas, any more bids?
Magna Grecia landed the first of a Newmarket double for Aiden O’Brien and gave him his 33rd British Classic win, his 10th 2000 Guineas, and his third 2000 Guineas on the spin.
Magna Grecia was in a group of three on the stand side, with the other 16 runners taking the central line. But the pace was with the stand side and Donnacha O’Brien got home on the winner before the others got a look in. Also on the stands side was 66/1 outsider King Of Change, pinpointed by the Racing Hub’s Number Cruncher for a first-three finish, who was two-and-a-half lengths second.
The win had little to do with the draw, and much more with Magna’s pace. Owners the Coolmore/Niarchos clans have a colt whose Group 1 winning has only just begun.
Hermosa completed the O’Brien trained Guineas double, notched-up the 34th British Classic win for the master of Ballydoyle, and made it a sixth victory in the last eight Newmarket Classics – jockey Wayne Lordan set for home the moment the stalls opened on the 14/1 shot and had something in hand when the filly came to the rising ground
Dragonet fires up Derby chances
On his second race, Sir Dragonet flew home in the Chester Vase to become Ballydoyle’s shortest priced Derby candidate, albeit he needs to be supplemented to run – he won by eight-lengths less than a fortnight after winning on his debut at Tipperary, and the experience would have been invaluable for a tilt at Epsom’s undulations
Also putting on an impressive display, making it two from two, was Mehdaayih in the Cheshire Oaks for John Gosden who won by four-and-a-half lengths and, if she skips the Oaks, is a serious contender for the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot
Kentucky Derby appeal on cards after disqualification
Gary West, owner of the first-past-the-post Maximum Security, is considering an appeal against his horse’s disqualification in the Kentucky Derby. The jockey of War Of Will, Flavien Prat, objected to the winner after he was bumped into on the final turn, as did Jon Court on Long Range Toddy.
Twenty-minutes after the race, the stewards announced the demotion of Maximum Security to 17th place, the first time a Kentucky Derby winner had lost the race in the stewards room in its 145-year history, and Country House was promoted to first place.
Praise for the new Curragh
After its €80m redevelopment which took two years, and centred around a state-of-the-art grandstand, the Curragh held its first fixture, with the facilities receiving widespread praise, albeit that there was justified criticism of cramped facilities for owners and trainers. The Curragh will hope to build on a decent enough crowd of over, 3,600 for the upcoming Guineas meeting.
Ryan Moore delivered a ride of the top order to get Happen over the line first with a flying finish in the Group 3 Athasi Stakes, to follow up an easier win for Ballydoyle with Magical, the 2/9 favourite, in the Mooresbridge Stakes
Riding honours also went to Billy Lee who rode a 370/1 treble, completed by a front running display on Verhoyen in the 30-runner 6f handicap
Skelton completes full house
With a winner at Kelso, Harry Skelton has won at every British track. Floki, trained by brother Dan, was the first of a double for Skelton at the Borders track
With many tipping this to be a breakthrough year for the jockey, Cieren Fallon rode a double at Windsor
Walsh needs op, Blackmore stood down
Mark Walsh is to undergo an operation after suffering a broken right tibia when Scoir Mear was brought down in a novice hurdle at Punchestown. Walsh was due to ride Buveur D’Air in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.
Rachel Blackmore was stood down after she had a fall at Punchestown, and faced a week on the sidelines.
Newbury freeze prize-money
Newbury (pictured) will keep its executive prize-money contribution at £5m this year in the face of a decline in media rights revenue resulting from betting shop closures after FOBT stakes were cut from £100 to £2. The Berkshire track grew revenue in 2018 by 8% to £19.29m and profit after tax was £1.79m compared to £1.18m in the prior year.
ITV see jump viewing increase
Jump season racing viewing figures on ITV have recorded a year-on-year increase of 14%. Average ratings for the 2018/19 season were 664,000, an increase of 81,000. The audience share rose by 1.3%
Arc looking for sizeable data damages after High Court decision against SIS
After a High Court judge found that SIS had breached confidentiality in the Arena Racing Company’s raceday data, Arc are to seek “very substantial damages” from SIS. Arc derived data income from The Racing Partnership which was set up in 2017 to represent Arc’s 16 tracks and six other racecourses, and bookmakers signed up with the Partnership to receive data. But Betfred, Coral and Ladbrokes received data unofficially sourced by SIS including on-course from the Tote.
The Racing Partnership took legal action and, in the High Court, Mr Justice Anthony Zacaroli found that there had been misuse of the data, which includes going, jockey changes, non-runners and off-times. Separate claims that bookmakers and SIS conspired to drive down the Partnership media rights value and the value of the Partnership so that SIS could mount a bid to acquire Arc were dismissed.
Commonwealth Cup misses the cut
The Group 1 Commonwealth Cup will no longer be open to geldings from 2020