BHA BACK ABATTOIR INVESTIGATIONS AFTER PANORAMA PROGRAMME
20 July: The British Horseracing Authority has responded to the BBC’s Panorama programme last night which included pictures, it suggests, showing horses, including former racehorses, being euthanised in circumstances which may have harmed their welfare. The programme also reported that some of the horses had been transported from Ireland to a British abattoir.
In its statement the BHA said:
“No one in racing, and no one who loves horses, wants to see them caused distress or suffering at the end of their lives. If there has been a departure from approved abattoir practices and the welfare of the horses involved has been compromised, it is important this is addressed as a matter of urgency.
“This includes transporting horses over long distances to an abattoir, especially if these have injuries, which is not acceptable under the British racing industry’s guidelines for euthanasia.
“The Food Standards Agency, which regulates abattoirs, is responsible for maintaining standards of animal welfare. We would support them if they decide there is evidence of mistreatment of animals which requires investigation, given the public concern that may arise from this programme.
“The British racing industry, and the 7,000 and more staff who look after our horses day-in, day-out, across Britain, are proud of the unparalleled standards of love, care, attention, and respect our horses receive.
“Where end-of life decisions are being considered, we want these to take place in accordance with the euthanasia guidelines developed by the industry’s Horse Welfare Board over the last 12 months. These aim to ensure that horses’ welfare is protected and that all available options for rehoming are examined.
“Our sport has set out its wider approach to equine welfare in a strategy published in 2020, which the programme chose not to highlight. One of the core aspects of this strategy is collective lifetime responsibility, and the report identified the need to further enhance our record in the fields of aftercare and traceability.
“Significant steps have already been taken since the publication of the strategy. They include:
A review and recommendations for the funding of the aftercare sector
- The introduction of euthanasia guidelines for the industry to assist owners and veterinarians in considering the appropriate veterinary and ethical issues when faced with painful end-of-life dilemmas
- Improving traceability of racehorses, including greater use of digital passports to assist in tracking cross-border horse movements, and building greater data expertise within racing
- The development of a £2.5m emergency COVID relief fund for thoroughbreds that risk falling into neglect. So far, this fund has not needed to be used
The BHA and other leaders from the British racing industry, including the independently-chaired Horse Welfare Board, will be meeting tomorrow (20 July) to consider further the issues raised by this programme. We will also be in contact our counterparts in Ireland.”
ADAYAR AND LOVE SET TO CLASH IN THE KING GEORGE AT ASCOT
19 July: This year’s Derby winner Adayar is set to face last year’s Oaks winner Love in a scintillating mid-summer showdown in Ascot’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes.
Love, who is 5/4 favourite with Paddy Power for Saturday’s race, was an emphatic winner of the two fillies’ Classics last year.
Trained by Aiden O’Brien, she made her seasonal return after a 10-month absence to win the 10-furlong Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, when she led all the way to beat Audarya by half-a-length.
Second in the market, at 7/4, is Adayar who returns to the racecourse after his four-and-a-half-length Epsom triumph.
From Charlie Appleby’s in-form yard, the colt will receive an 8lb weight-for-age allowance over Love who is unbeaten in four starts.
Frankie Dettori is lined-up up to take the ride on Lone Eagle (5/1) for Martin Meade. The colt was beaten a neck by Hurricane Lane in the Irish Derby, who has gone on to win the Grand Prix de Paris by six-lengths.
As well as Love, Aiden O’Brien still has Mogul (16/1) in the race together with Broome and Japan (both 20/1).
Mogul has not won a race since he took the Hong Kong Vase in December and was last of six last time out in the Coronation Cup at Epsom. That was won by Pyledriver who is a late withdrawal from Saturday’s race after suffering a setback.
Broome has raced six times this season and won on four occasions, most recently in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
Japan is a course-and-distance winner who took the 9f Group 3 Green Room Meld Stakes at Leopardstown earlier this month, repelling the serious challenge of Maker Of Kings.
From Sandown’s Coral-Eclipse come the William Haggas-trained Addeybb (33/1) and John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff (6/1). They were second and third behind St Mark’s Basilica at the Surrey course.
Bringing the total to nine runners still in Saturday’s race, which is worth £496,212, is Wonderful Tonight (10/1) trained by David Menuisier.
He won back-to-back Group 1 races last autumn, and returned to Ascot this season with a one-and-a-half length win over Broome in the Hardwicke Stakes.
EIGHT RIVALS REMAIN TO TRY AND THWART A SNOWFALL OAKS DOUBLE
12 July: Eight rivals are lined up in opposition to Snowfall’s attempt to achieve an Oaks double as she remains on course to follow up her win in the Epson Classic with a win in Saturday’s Juddmonte Irish Oaks at the Curragh.
Ridden by Frankie Dettori at Epsom, she was the runaway victor on the Downs, taking the race by the scruff of the neck and putting 16l between herself and runner-up Mystery Angel.
The Aiden O’Brien filly, who had already won York’s Musidora Stakes in some style, is 2/7 with Paddy Power to win at the Curragh.
Also representing is O’Brien is High Heels (8/1), Divinely (10/1), Willow (16/1) and La Jaconde (33/1)
Second in the market is Nicest, trained by Donnacha O’Brien at 6/1, whilst his elder brother Joseph is represented by Mariesque at 33/1.
Breaking the O’Brien contingent in the betting order is last year’s winning trainer Ger Lyons with Party House at 25/1.
That leaves Fozzy Stack’s maiden Ahandfulofsummers who is priced at 66/1.
HILLS EYEING UP GROUP 1 OPTIONS FOR TILSIT
12 July: After victory in Ascot’s Group 2 Summer Mile on Saturday Tilsit has upcoming options to try again at winning at highest level. It was just his seventh race and he beat Century Dream by three-quarters-of-a-length.
His previous attempt to take a Group 1 title ended in a narrow defeat when he finished second to Skalleti who just got up on the line to take the Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp.
Now, the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on July 28 and the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on August 15 are the two Group 1 contests which trainer Charlie Hills could target.
GALILEO PUT DOWN AGED 23
10 July: Galileo, one of the best sires of all time, and whose offspring included Frankrl, has been put down on humane grounds aged 23. The news was announced by Coolmore:
Regretfully our world-renowned Champion Sire Galileo was put to sleep earlier today on humane grounds owing to a chronic, non-responsive, debilitating injury to the left fore foot
“It is a very sad day,” said John Magnier, “but we all feel incredibly fortunate to have had Galileo here at Coolmore. I would like to thank the dedicated people who looked after him so well all along the way.
“He was always a very special horse to us and he was the first Derby winner we had in Ballydoyle in the post M V O’Brien era. I would also like to thank Aidan and his team for the brilliant job they did with him.
“The effect he is having on the breed through his sons and daughters will be a lasting legacy and his phenomenal success really is unprecedented.”
Bred in the purple by Sadler’s Wells out of ‘Arc’ heroine Urban Sea and unbeaten in his first six starts, Galileo proved an immediate success at stud siring Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Nightime from his first crop. Appropriately he became the most successful Group 1 sire of all time when his daughter Peaceful won the same race in June of last year.
His total of individual Group 1 winners now stands at 91 while no less than 20 of his sons have sired Group 1 winners on the flat, headed by Frankel and Australia.
RACING TV RENEWS MEDIA RIGHTS WITH 33 TRACKS UNTIL 2029
8 July: Racing TV will continue live coverage from 33 British courses until at least 2029, following the agreement of a new five-year term for audio-visual and data rights.
The news comes after Newbury announced it was moving its media rights to Sky Sports Racing from 2024 for five years.
Racecourse Media Group (RMG), which operates RTV, announced the extended deal on Thursday – confirming showpiece meetings such as Aintree’s Randox Grand National, the Cheltenham Festival, the Cazoo Derby at Epsom, Goodwood’s Qatar Sussex Stakes and York’s Juddmonte International will all remain in the channel’s portfolio.
RTV also currently screens live coverage from all 26 Irish courses.
RMG chairman Roger Lewis said: “On behalf of the board of directors of RMG, I thank our shareholders for the trust and confidence they have once more placed in RMG.
“This is a pivotal moment for British racing. The RMG Racecourses, with a unity of purpose, have created business clarity and confidence for years to come.
“The certainty which this landmark, long-term agreement provides is very special for everyone involved in British racing.
“RMG now looks forward to serving its shareholder racecourses, which, in turn, benefits the sport of racing for the foreseeable future.”
The Jockey Club runs 15 UK racecourses – including Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom and Newmarket.
Its chief executive Nevin Truesdale said: “RMG has consistently delivered significant value from media and data rights over a 17-year period and unlocked revenue streams in the betting space far more than any other sport.
“This has supported JCR’s ability to make significant investments into prize money and enhance the experience we offer to participants and customers.
“More recently, the income RMG has delivered to all its shareholder racecourses has been vital through the very difficult pandemic period without spectators and other on-course revenues.
“RMG has a really important role to play in our sport’s growth in the years ahead.”
NEWBURY SWITCHING TO SKY SPORTS RACING
7 July: Newbury Racecourse has announced that from 1 April, 2023, its media rights will move to The Racing Partnership (“TRP”) and Sky Sports Racing in a significant initial 5-year deal.
All of Newbury’s 29 annual race meetings will be broadcast on Sky Sports Racing from January 2024, adding an extremely valuable portfolio of prominent fixtures across both Flat and Jump to the broadcaster’s schedule, including the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials, the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge, Ladbrokes Winter Carnival and Grade 1 Challow Hurdle.
Julian Thick, Chief Executive of Newbury Racecourse said: “We are delighted to announce this strategic partnership with TRP and Sky Sports Racing. We believe the new agreement secures a positive and exciting future for Newbury Racecourse and its shareholders and fits with our long-term values and aspirations for the business.
“Sky Sports Racing offers a very attractive platform for us with its extensive reach to 14 million homes, a particularly strong supporting digital footprint with both Attheraces.com and associated channels as well as the brand alignment and cross promotional opportunities that come with being part of the larger Sky family.
“We would like to thank our current rights holders, RMG who have done and continue to do an excellent job for Newbury and have been a valued partner of ours since 2004.”
Martin Cruddace, Chief Executive of Arena Racing Company, said: “We are very pleased to confirm this partnership and welcome Newbury Racecourse on to TRP and Sky Sports Racing. Newbury is renowned for running some of the sport’s most important and popular fixtures across both the flat and jumps calendars and will become a major element of broadcast packages for both TRP and Sky Sports Racing.
“As a sport, we must continue to work hard to engage with our customers, whether via direct to home television broadcast, online or via the retail betting sector. We very much look forward to working with Newbury to accomplish this.”
Matthew Imi, Chief Executive, Sky Sports Racing, added: “Everyone at Sky Sports Racing is delighted at the prospect of a partnership with Newbury Racecourse.
“We regard it as a great privilege to be working with one of our sport’s most important and progressive participants and look forward to being able to attract significant audiences to their content through our domestic and international broadcast and digital platforms. Since the inception of Sky Sports Racing, we have added Ascot, Chester and Bangor-on-Dee to our portfolio of racecourse partners, and we very much look forward to Newbury joining in 2024.
“Working closely with our wagering partners and maximising the exposure Sky Sports can bring to Newbury’s fixtures, events and high-quality brand we believe this will translate into significant long-term opportunities for them on many different levels.”
RACECOURSES PREPARING FOR FULL CAPACITY ATTENDANCE AFTER LIFTING OF ENGLISH COVID RESTRICTIONS
5 July: The Racecourse Association has welcomed today’s announcement from the Prime Minister regarding his confidence that from 19 July all restrictions relating to the Covid-19 pandemic will be lifted in England.
The RCA, via its working groups and collaborative partnerships within the sport, will now focus its attention to supporting racecourses in preparing for full capacities and seeking similar clarification from devolved Governments in Scotland and Wales.
RCA Chief Executive David Armstrong commented “It has been 476 days since British racecourses were able to welcome racegoers without restriction. Clearly this has been a difficult time for racecourses on both a commercial level, we estimate the pandemic has cost racecourses £400m, and human level—we have deeply missed the atmosphere and presence of racegoers.
“The clarity provided by today’s Government announcement is wonderful news for racecourses in England and we will continue to work closely with our industry partners and the devolved Governments for an update from Wales and Scotland.
“With some of the sport’s marquee events to come including the Qatar Goodwood Festival, York’s Ebor Festival and the Cazoo St Leger Festival at Doncaster, our attention now turns to helping racecourses prepare for a fantastic summer. Certain restrictions may remain in place to protect racing’s participants but we will work closely with our partners across the sport to remove these as quickly as is possible whilst maintaining their safety.”
BHA Chair Annamarie Phelps said in a statement:
“We are delighted to hear the Prime Minister’s announcement today. Monday 19 July will be a significant day for all sports, and very much so for British racing. This news comes as a huge boost to an industry which relies so heavily on its nearly six million racegoing fans each year.
“A day at the races with the wonderful atmosphere generated by our racegoers is an experience unlike any other. Everyone involved in our sport has been looking forward to this news for the last thirteen months, and worked tirelessly and with great patience to safely keep the show on the road in this time.
“While racing is perfectly suited to spectators enjoying a sporting experience in a safe environment, it may remain the case that some protocols around the operation of sporting events for participants and officials remain in place in order to protect sports from the potential impact of positive cases and close contact self-isolation requirements, and permit international competitors.
“We are currently working with our industry colleagues to consider how this might apply to racing and how our racedays will therefore operate from 19 July onwards, and we await further clarity from Government.
“We also look forward to spectators being permitted to return to sporting events in Scotland and Wales in greater numbers in due course, and continue to engage proactively with the Devolved Administrations on this issue.”
BETTING INDUSTRY CALLS FOR OMBUDSMAN
4 July: Standards body the Betting and Gaming Council has called on the Government to establish a Gambling Ombudsman to deal with concerns raised by customers.
The move comes as ministers continue the Gambling Review, which was launched last December, with Ministers expected to produce a White Paper at the end of this year.
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said backing a Gambling Ombudsman was further proof of the regulated industry’s determination to drive up standards.
Systems for dealing with customer complaints already exist, but the BGC believes a Gambling Ombudsman would improve the process and make it more consistent for those raising concerns.
The BGC, which represents betting shops, casinos and online operators, is proposing that it should be a legal requirement for all licensed betting and gaming operators to sign up to the new Gambling Ombudsman.
Michael Dugher said: “This is further evidence of the BGC’s determination to drive up standards in the regulated betting and gaming industry.
“We hope that the Government will look favourably on our calls for a Gambling Ombudsman to be established as soon as possible following the conclusion of the Gambling Review, which we strongly support.
“The BGC and its members recognise the need for further change in our industry and a new Gambling Ombudsman would be a step forward in customer redress – I’m proud to be giving it our backing.”
Conor Grant, chief executive of Flutter UK and Ireland, which owns Betfair, Paddy Power and Sky Bet, said: “At the heart of our business is a focus on our customers – both delivering great entertainment and making sure that it is always underpinned by increasingly robust safer gambling practices.
“And true commitment to putting customers first also means making sure that they have somewhere independent to go if something does go amiss – that is why Flutter is fully behind the call from the BGC today for the Government to include an Ombudsman in its plans for reform of the gambling industry.”
ALERIE KEATLEY TAKES TOP HONOUR AT IRISH STUD AND STABLE STAFF AWARDS
1 July: Valerie Keatley, Head Girl for trainer Johnny Murtagh has been announced as the Irish Racing Excellence Award winner at the 2021 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards.
Valerie, who also won the Leadership Award for Stable Employees and was among eight individual category winners, was selected by the judging committee for the highest accolade.
Valerie joined Johnny Murtagh’s not long after he set up his training business and Johnny credits her contribution as one of the reasons why the yard has performed consistently on an upward curve over the last number of years.
Valerie’s wealth of knowledge and experience, her passion for horses and her mentorship of young staff really impressed the judging committee. It was evident from Valerie’s nomination that she sets and leads the standard for the yard and the judges commended her for her dedication to her job, the horses in her care and her exceptional work ethic.
Irish Racing Excellence Award and Leadership Stable Award winner, Valerie Keatley, said: “I eat, sleep and breath horses so it was a huge honour to be nominated and be chosen as one of the finalists. To win the Leadership Stable Award and then win the Irish Racing Excellence Award is just unbelievable – I am over the moon, especially when I was nominated with all the other brilliant finalists and winners this year.”
Helen O’Sullivan Career Coach at the Irish Jockeys’ Trust in County Kildare won the Racing & Breeding Support Services Award. Helen has spent her entire career supporting the Irish racing industry, was instrumental in setting up the educational aspects of RACE and has devoted many years supporting aspiring jockeys to reach their full potential.
Anne O’Connor, Racing Secretary for Michael Halford won the Administration Award. Anne has experienced and gained knowledge of many facets of the thoroughbred world through her roles with Goffs, the ITBA and charity work for the industry. With Michael Halford since 2014, Anne has brought her vast experience and skills to Cooper Beech Stables.
The Newcomer Award went to Keith Lynam, Stud Groom at Ringfort Stud in County Offaly. Keith started working in Ringfort Stud in September 2017. He was a total newcomer to the world of breeding having previously worked in the hospitality industry. He has quickly become a very important part of the Ringfort team and has a full understanding of the farm’s breeding operation. Keith’s contribution and work ethic during the 2018 foaling season which included his handling and prepping for the sales helped Ringfort Stud have its best racing year.
The Horse Care Award went to Emmett Raher, Head Lad for Henry de Bromhead in County Waterford. Horses under Emmett’s care include Honeysuckle, Minella Indo and A Plus Tard to name just a few. His hard work, dedication, care, and attention to detail with these horses, especially Honeysuckle, helped the yard had achieve its many successes during the 2020/2021 National Hunt season.
The In The Saddle Award, one of the most competitive awards, went to David Glennon, Stable Lad for Dermot Weld on the Curragh. A graduate of RACE, David has worked for Dermot Weld since 1994 after spending time riding in Germany, England, and Dubai. He has played a huge part in some notable horses over the years, most recently with Tarnawa who won the Prix Vermeille, the Irish St Leger, Prix de l’Opera Longines and Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf in the Autumn of 2020. His input and care of Tarnawa was pivotal in the horse’s global success.
Caroline Hannon, Manager at Newtown Stud in Naas, County Kildare won the Leadership Award for stud employees. A University of Limerick Equine Science graduate, Caroline displays leadership every single day in her role as Manager of Newtown Stud. She is instrumental in the success of the stud and is responsible for leading the stud’s team in pretraining top-class horses and instils her high standards among all the stud team whether that is in foaling, sales preparation, riding skills or pre-training.
The Dedication to Racing Award winner was Ger Brabston, Horsebox Driver for Derrinstown Stud in Maynooth, County Kildare. In 1986, Ger followed his father’s footsteps to work for Vincent O’Brien in Ballydoyle and his lifelong career with horses began. He joined the team at Derrinstown in 1988 and since then has handled nearly all of Sheikh Hamdan’s stock. With over 37 years in thoroughbred racing and breeding, he is a great ambassador for the industry.
A Special Recognition Award was presented to Dr Jennifer Pugh, Senior Medical officer with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board to acknowledge the extraordinary support she and her team provided to the Irish stud and stable staff during both the suspension of racing and since its resumption under restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr Pugh is originally from Loughbrickland in Co Down.
The Irish Stablestaff Association chose Tramore Racecourse for the Racecourse Award. The judging committee commented on the huge efforts made by the County Waterford track to facilitate and support stable staff especially during the Covid-19 pandemic including complimentary stable staff hospitality and ‘Best Turned Out’ prizes for all races. The winning prize is €2,500 which is to be used for continuing to upgrade stable staff facilities
NORTHUMBERLAND PLATE WINNER NICHOLAS T TARGETING THE JOHN SMITH’S CUP
1 July: Following his shock win in Saturday’s Northumberland Plate, Nicholas T is now being aimed at another big handicap, the John Smith’s Cup at York. If successful he will give trainer Jim Goldie a second victory in the race after Euchen Glen won in 2018.
The nine-year-old sythed through field at Newcastle from last to first to take the Newcastle contest, ridden by Ben Robinson.
Longer term, he could go for the Ebor depending on his upcoming York outing
MP AMONG NEWLY ELECTED MEMBERS TO RACEHORSE OWNERS ASSOCIATION BOARD
1 July: The Racehorse Owners Association has the election of three members to its Board, two new and one existing board member. They are:
- Celia Djivanovic
- Philip Davies MP
- Mouse Hamilton-Fairley
The new Board members will join the Board formally at the AGM on 1 September 2021. The AGM will also mark a significant step as the ROA Board starts transitioning to a skills-based board. The move to a skills-based board is one of a number of recommendations put to and approved by the current ROA Board as part of the wider ROA Corporate Governance Review.
Charlie Parker, President of the ROA, said: “I am thrilled to welcome our Board members. Both our new Board members and Celia’s re-election are indicative of the impetus behind our corporate governance agenda at the ROA. We are determined to, in line with our Review, drive a more diverse set of people and skills on our Board.
“Everyone in this cohort is bringing a new and fresh perspective to our leadership. With so many challenges to ownership, racing’s participants and racing in its totality, I look forward to working closely with the Board to help the ROA continue to be the voice for all owners, domestic or internationally based, our members and together deliver for racing’s future.”
Elected Board members:
Celia has been a member of the ROA Board since 2018, currently sitting as a trustee to the Retraining of Racehorses and a ROA representative on the Whip Review Steering Group.
She is a lifelong horse owner and rider who has interests in both National Hunt and Flat through sole ownership, partnership and syndicate involvement.
Formerly a lawyer, she has held a variety of non-executive roles at various organisations, including the UK’s oldest horse charity – The Horse Trust.
“It has been fantastic to co-lead the ROA’s work on corporate governance and the review. Corporate governance is incredibly important to securing the future of our sport and we still have a lot more to do, not just here but across the sport.
“I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me and I look forward to working alongside the new members and rest of the Board and executive on the issues most important to Owners.”
Philip Davies MP
Philip has been the MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire since 2005 and has been an Officer of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Racing and Bloodstock for over a decade. He also spent over 10 years on the DCMS Select Committee and as the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Betting and Gaming.
Before entering Parliament, Philip worked for ASDA in Marketing and Customer Service. He is an owner with Oliver Greenall, Jo Foster and Mick and David Easterby.
“As a lifelong racing fan, this is a sport I know and love. To be involved at this level is a great privilege. The members and the Board have been so welcoming.
“I am looking forward to getting stuck in and helping racing and owners both navigate the challenging period ahead but also thrive in the future.”
A former event rider, point to point jockey, permit holder and dual licence holder,
Mouse Hamilton-Fairley has experienced racing from all angles. Currently an owner, breeder and syndicate member, her best horse owned was the hurdler Third Wind, who she also bred.
An Applied Criminology Masters graduate, she also works closely with the Hampshire Youth Offending team on referral order panels, prison projects and as a victim volunteer in restorative justice. Mouse will be looking to ensure better representation of the smaller owner in racing.
“It is a huge honour to be elected to the ROA board. I will do my very best to represent those smaller racehorse owners, owner-breeders and syndicate members to make sure their voices are heard and listened to better in the future, across all aspects of this sport we love, whether it’s in decision making at the highest level or improving the raceday experience. In addition, I am keen to ensure more transparency on equine welfare issues.”
The ROA Corporate Governance Review was approved by the Board in October 2020 and has been undertaken to identify areas where the organisation could improve its corporate governance in order to support the delivery of key strategic initiatives and to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
The Review is part of a wider piece of work to support the broader modernisation of the sport and ensure that its practices meet modern standards of corporate governance and therefore, deliver the right decisions for the future of the sport.
WHIP USE CONSULTATION STARTS ON 1 JULY WITH ONLINE SURVEY
30 June: The rules on the use of the whip by jockeys on British racecourses are set to change by the spring of next year after 1 July sees the launch of a delayed consultation on the whip and its use.
The BHA led consultation begins with an online questionnaire, which is open to the public for 10 weeks, before discussions with wider focus groups.
Brant Dunshea of the BHA said: “Whilst nothing has been pre-determined, no decisions have been made and no options are off the table, I think it would be a reasonable expectation there would be some level of reform as a consequence of this process.”
The questionnaire asks respondents to consider:
- What the rules should allow for use of the whip
- Whether the existing penalty framework provides sufficient deterrent to prevent rule breaches
- If disqualification should be considered as a penalty for rule breaches
- Whether international rules should be harmonised
- If engagement with the sport would change if the whip rules were changed
Racing must “listen to and understand a range of perspectives if it is to prosper and safeguard its long-term future,” said BHA chief executive Julie Harrington.
It is 10 year since the whip rules were last reviewed when a maximum number of strikes – seven on the Flat and eight over jumps – were introduced.
The foam-padded whip is not considered by racing’s regulator to an equine welfare issue, but some sections of the wider public hold negative views on its use.
The consultation, delayed by Covid, comes after the new Horse Welfare Board said that whilst the numbers of whip offences were down, they were still “unpalatably high”.
“I want to emphasise, this is not a polarised yes/no debate or vote or referendum on whether the whip stays or goes, that’s really important to note. The responses are a guide that will be considered by the steering group.
If there were changes Dunshea they would be given a “bedding-in period”, but his expectation is that any amendments would be implemented after the 2022 Grand National in April and before the Flat season’s first Classics in May.
TRUESHAN HEADING TO THE GOODWOOD CUP
30 June: Trueshan is on target to run in the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup after trainer Alan King was pleased with his performance in last weekend’s Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
After his intended run in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot was ruled out due to unsuitable ground, the stayer was redirected to the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle where carried top-weight and was a very respectable sixth, less than four lengths behind the winner Nicolas T.
The five-year-old, who has won seven races on the Flat over one-and-a-miles or further, has come out of the race absolutely fine according to his trainer.
He’s being trained for his Goodwood debut and participation is now dependent on the ground having some ease.
HAMILTON ABANDONED AFTER TV CAMERMEN INJURED IN CHERRY PICKER FALL
29 June: Racing was abandoned at Hamilton this afternoon following an incident involving a cherry picker manned by two TV personnel who were both seriously injured.
It understood the two men, employed by RaceTech, fell from the cherry picker onto the roof of an outside broadcast vehicle. RaceTech issued the following statement:
“Following a serious incident prior to the first race at Hamilton Park involving a mobile elevated camera platform, two freelance camera operators, Robbie Cotgrave and Kit Campbell, have been seriously injured and taken to hospital.
“A full investigation is under way into the cause of the incident. Our thoughts and concerns are very much with our two colleagues at this time.”
‘It was quite upsetting for everybody’
The cherry picker, positioned beyond the winning line for head-on coverage, is bent at a 30-degree angle.
Clerk of the course Harriet Graham told Racing TV: “About half an hour before [the first race] we had a call about an emergency happening on the racecourse involving some RaceTech staff, and all our medical teams attended to it and very quickly we called the police.
“The ambulance and fire brigade reacted quickly too and were on the scene. We delayed racing to start with and our timeline kept being put back – the most important thing is the safety of the two casualties and getting them into the ambulances and taken to hospital.
“The decision was made by the stewards and us that we still didn’t have a timeline for when the site would be safe to race, so we decided to abandon racing.”
GLASS SLIPPERS HEADING FOR SEASON’S RETURN AT GOODWOOD
29 June: Five-times Group 1 winner Glass Slippers is set to make her first 2021 racecourse appearance in the King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood, a race in which she was runner-up last season to Battaash.
The Kevin Ryan-trained five-year-old, whose top level wins include the Prix de l’Abbaye in 2019 and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last November, has missed an earlier return due to a pulled muscle.
The chances are that she’ll again come up against Battaash and Ryan said: “She’s great and is heading for Goodwood now. She’ll start her season down there.
“She’s fine now and we’re looking forward to Goodwood.”
Ground conditions will primarily dictate whether or not Century Dream will return to Group 1 level for an attempt at the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
Having missed out on a third win in the Diomed Stakes at Epsom on Derby day, he returned to winning ways in the Listed Midsummer Stakes at Windsor on Saturday for joint-trainers Simon and Ed Crisford.
His Goodwood credentials have already been established by his win in Celebration Mile last summer and he could return to the West Sussex track to come up against Palace Pier and Poetic Flare
Ed Crisford said: “We were delighted with him at Windsor. He did it nicely and liked the ground.
“He’s a seven-year-old now, so he’s an old boy, but he always shows a lot of enthusiasm and we’ve just got to pick and choose our targets depending on where the ground is right for him.
“He’s in the Sussex Stakes and if it did go soft or worse, I’m sure he’d be running in it.”
IRISH DERBY MEETING FALLOUT AND PLANS
28 June: Go Bears Go, who was the striking winner of Saturday’s Group 2 GAIN Railway Stakes at the Curragh, is heading back to Ireland to the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes .
His win in the Railway Stakes was only nine days after finishing a head second to Perfect Power in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, leading the connections to pay the €10,000 supplementary fee at the Curragh.
Trainer David Loughnane said:
“The lad who rides him every day sat on him on Monday morning and said ‘God, he feels as good as he did before Ascot’. I had a sit on him on Tuesday morning and felt the same.
“It was Kia Joorabchian’s (owner) son Max, who is only 10 or 11 years old, who actually suggested supplementing him for the Railway. It probably wasn’t on our agenda as it was so soon after Royal Ascot, but once I’d sat on him Tuesday morning, we decided to give it a go.
“Royal Ascot clearly took nothing out of him – he’s got a great constitution and a great mind.
“We rolled the dice and we reaped the rewards, so it was brilliant – a huge day.”
The Shropshire handler confirmed that Go Bears Go is returning to the Curragh:
“He’s had a busy 10 days now, so we’ll give him a quiet couple of weeks and then we’ve got three and a half to four weeks to get him ready for the Phoenix. That’s the most logical step, I think.
“I’ve not seen too many yet that I’d be afraid of and that is hopefully the plan.”
Aiden O’Brien has said that Irish Derby favourite High Definition’s poor show in the race was down to clipping the heels of another runner.
“After two furlongs he clipped heels and nearly came down. Ryan said he got disorganised then and he couldn’t get him going after that.
“Maybe he frightened himself, he got on to the wrong leg and he couldn’t get him back. He could never click him into gear and it was a non-event really.
“When he ran against the winner in York it looked like another two furlongs was going to be right up his alley and he had run around the Curragh twice before.
“We’ll just put a line through it, probably give him a little rest and have him back in the autumn. It just didn’t work out and was one of those days.”
Meanwhile, Aiden’s son Joseph is looking at the Irish St Leger as a target for Dawn Patrol who finished a very creditable second in the Group 3 International Stakes, when he went down by a short-head to Cadillac. Dawn Patrol was making his debut run for Joseph O’Brien having left his father’s stable after being purchased by the Lloyd J Williams Syndicate. Joseph O’Brien said:
“I thought it was a great run from him, for a horse that you would imagine his optimum distance would be further. I suppose something like the Irish Leger would be an obvious target for him. He won over two miles at the Curragh last year so we always had him in our head as a staying type. I was actually surprised because in another stride he would have won.”
GUY HENDERSON TO RETIRE AS CEO AT ASCOT AFTER 2022 ROYAL MEETING
25 June: Ascot Racecourse has announced that Guy Henderson (pictured) will retire as CEO at Ascot following next year’s Royal Meeting, which will be his eighth at the helm. Henderson said:
“We make this announcement as the process to appoint the next CEO begins.
“Meanwhile, it remains business as usual as we deliver the remainder of the 2021 racing and events programme and build towards Royal Ascot 2022 in the Platinum Jubilee year. This will be a unique event at Ascot about which we are all very excited.”
Sir Francis Brooke, Her Majesty’s Representative at Ascot and Chairman, added:
“Guy’s leadership at Ascot has been transformational since he became CEO in January 2015.
“He raised the business to a new level of success and then had to face the enormous challenge of running two successive Royal Meetings in the midst of a global pandemic. Both last year and this, he and the whole Ascot team rose to that challenge magnificently and delivered the best event possible in the circumstances.
“This transition process has been planned and we now look forward to Guy leading the business until Royal Ascot 2022, while the process for the appointment of the next CEO begins.”
SANTA BARBARA OUT TO TRY AGAIN FOR GROUP 1 WIN
25 June: The Aiden O’Brien filly Santa Barbara will have another opportunity to win her first Group 1 race when she runs in the Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday. She is 9/4 favourite with Paddy Power.
A winner at the Curragh on her debut last autumn, the daughter of Camelot was joint-favourite to win the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on her second start following highly favourable reports of work done on the gallops. However, she finished fourth in the first fillies classic.
In the Oaks at Epsom earlier this month she was again favourite but stablemate Snowfall was the emphatic winner. Santa Barbara was fifth.
In the Pretty Polly she is up against seven rivals: Jessica Harrington’s course-and-distance winner Cayenne Pepper (3/1) and the hat-trick seeking Epona Plays (4/1) trained by Willie McCreery. He also runs Insinuendo (14/1).
Also from Harrington’s yard is Silence Please and Oodnadatta, both 20/1.
Thundering Nights (4/1) trained byJoseph O’Brien, who has been runner-up in her two races this term, and Shale (20/1) from brother Donnacha O’Brien’s yard take the field to a total of eight.
RE-MATCH FOR SUBJECTIVIST AND STRADIVARIUS AT GOODWOOD
24 June: Subjectivist and Stradivarius are all set for a return match after their meeting in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. They will face each other in the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup on 27 July.
The Mark Johnston-trained Subjectivist lived up to his reputation following wins in France and Meydan with an overwhelming performance at Royal Ascot (pictured).
He prevented Stradivarius’s bid to match Yeats and achieve a fourth Gold Cup victory, with the seven-year-old back in fourth place, having had a less than clear run.
Mark Johnston said Subjectivist has had a very easy time of it since his run in the Gold Cup. “He will have a gradual return back to full work, with the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup being the next target.”
“Looking back at the Gold Cup, it was a very exciting performance. Whichever way you look at it, whether it be the form, the time, the sectional times, the distance he won by, it all points to it being an absolutely top-drawer performance.”
TRAINER OSBORNE REPORTS RAPE AND DEATH THREAT MESSAGE SENT TO DAUGHTER TO POLICE
24 June: Jamie Osborne has contacted the police following his daughter Saffie (pictured riding a winner at Brighton) becoming the latest jockey to receive an abusive message on social media, which included rape and death threats.
The former leading rider turned trainer, 53, posted a copy of the message on Twitter, stating: “Social media abuse has gone too far. I will now begin a crusade to have these people banned from all platforms and will not shy away from bringing prosecutions.”
Lambourn-based Osborne said he’d contacted the police and hoped charges would be brought.
He said: “I know jockeys get messages all the time, and I don’t know what proportion of them get reported, but I think there comes a point where enough is enough.
“I know Saffie has been getting them. But the nature and the tone of this one was in my mind a step too far, and I don’t see why jockeys should have to put up with this on a regular basis without there seemingly being any call for action.
“Saffie is annoyed with me for highlighting this. Luckily she’s pretty tough and she can laugh these things off, but we shouldn’t just take that for granted about our jockeys.
“I don’t know if anybody is planning to take any action, but I certainly am – not for Saffie, necessarily, but for all the jockeys.”
Osborne has called on other racing participants to report abuse to the authorities.
He he went on to say: “This message wasn’t a guy saying I don’t like the way you ride – let’s put no finer point on it, it’s threats of rape and death. I don’t know how society can feel this is acceptable.
“The police are investigating. Obviously they will have to go through their due process, but I would be hopeful that charges can be brought and hopefully that will act as a deterrent for people deciding to do the same thing in the future.
“When I was riding, while we didn’t have online things, I used to get the odd hate phone call – and I had a dustbin thrown at me one day on the way in from a race at Wolverhampton!
“But because of this technology, jockeys today are exposed to it constantly. We know everyone is different – everybody’s tolerance levels are different, and everybody’s mentality is slightly different.
“This is an issue. If racing doesn’t collectively get together and look after its participants and protect them from this, the consequences could be disastrous – and will be disastrous somewhere down the line.”
APPEAL LODGED OVER DRAGON SYMBOL’S DEMOTION AT ROYAL ASCOT
24 June: Trainer Archie Watson has lodged an appeal against Dragon Symbol’s demotion from first place in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
Dragon Symbol passed the post a head in front of Campanelle in Group 1 sprint, but the placings were reversed by the Ascot stewards after an inquiry.
The appeal is set to be heard on Thursday, 1 July.
Campanelle was awarded the race, taking the race for a second successive year for American trainer Wesley Ward and jockey Frankie Dettori.
The stewards found that interference in the last furlong-and-a-half “improved Dragon Symbol’s placing” and “the distance lost by Campanelle, who was taken notably off her intended line and bumped on a minimum of two occasions, equated to more than the head by which she was beaten”.
Oisin Murphy, who rode Dragon Symbol, will not appeal against his four-day suspension for careless riding.
£21.5m ALLOCATED TO PRIZE-MONEY AND RACECOURSE FROM GOVERNMENTS SURVIVAL PACKAGE LOAN
23 June: British racing’s leaders and the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) have announced details of HBLB’s agreed deployment of £21.5 million of loan funding secured from the Government’s Sport Winter Survival Package (SWSP), with racecourses and participants set to benefit as the sport continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
British racing has been impacted by well over £400m in lost racecourse revenues since the start of the pandemic and a reduction of over £65 million paid out as prize-money to participants in 2020 (41% reduction). The sport continues to be significantly affected by the limited number of spectators allowed.
The money is being lent by Government to the HBLB rather than to any constituent body of Racing as a consequence of the sport’s particular governance structure and the HBLB’s role in providing central funding to the costs of race-day regulation, equine welfare and industry training. The loan will need to be repaid from future Levy returns.
The SWSP was launched by the UK Government in late 2020 with the stated aim of supporting “the immediate future of major spectator sports” that have suffered revenue losses as a result of the absence of spectators. British racing developed its expenditure proposal to the HBLB with the Government’s overarching objective in mind.
£7.5m support to aid British racing’s international competitiveness
£7.5m will be utilised to enhance prize-money for the 12 months from July 2021, in such a way as to support engagement levels and maximise the retention of horse numbers in 2021 and beyond.
The allocations will be split approximately 60% to Flat racing and 40% to Jumps, in line with the composition of the fixture list and the HBLB’s historic funding split, and will be targeted to support the upper tiers of racing and developmental races.
These are the races that have been identified as being most in need of support in order that they can remain competitive in comparison to similar races in neighbouring jurisdictions and other major racing nations.
Support of Novice and Maiden races
The following Novice and Maiden races will receive additional support in the form of fixed grants to top-up prize-money, worth over £3.5 million:
- On the Flat, Classes 3, 4 and 5
- Over Jumps, Classes 3 and 4
Support for such races is designed to ensure the benefit to participants is felt as widely as possible, with amounts for each determined by race type and class, with the payments added on top of the minimum value.
Support for Black Type races
Minimum values of Black Type races will not be changed but additional funding will be provided to races run above the minimum value, with every £1 of prize-money offered above that amount unlocking an additional £1 of matched funding, up to a maximum amount determined by race class. These races will be:
- On the Flat, Group 2, Group 3 and Listed Races;
- Over Jumps, Grade 1 and Grade 2 races, including for Novices
The additional funding from racecourses to unlock these matched amounts could deliver an extra £2.5m of prize-money on top of the £7.5m allocated, ensuring the extra funds are used to deliver the largest possible increase in the prize-money values of Black Type races.
Support for racecourses
Racecourses have suffered financially not only as a result of the original lockdown but the subsequent absence of spectators and so, with a view to supporting their immediate future, the plans will see a further £7.5m deployed to support the raceday integrity costs incurred at those fixtures. This will be in addition to the existing support provided by the HBLB for the regulatory and integrity costs of fixtures.
The current raceday services grant from the HBLB to racecourses of £12,571 per fixture partly covers the BHA fixture fee of £15,341. In addition, racecourses incur other raceday integrity-related costs totalling approximately £10,000 per fixture at Flat meetings and £6,000 at Jumps meetings.
Under the plans for the SWSP loan, an additional payment of £5,000 will be added to the raceday services grant from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.
The Minister for Gambling and Lotteries the Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP (pictured) said: “Horse racing is part of our national life. We have stepped in to provide £21.5 million as part of the Sports Survival Package, to help get the sport back on track, secure its future and retain its place on the world stage.”
Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of the BHA, said: “British racing is grateful for this vital support from the Sport Winter Survival Package. We much appreciate the assistance of the Levy Board in agreeing to take on the loan and work with racing to agree how the money is best used and distribute using existing funding processes.
“Plans for the deployment of these funds have been designed to target the areas where we have seen a decline in horses in training and provide confidence in the future to our investors.
“Britain is rightly proud of its unique and world-leading racing heritage. But it is clear that with competition around the globe increasing, this is not sufficient to attract the best in the world to be trained and raced here. Ensuring that prize-money is competitive helps ensure that Britain has the best horses, which benefits everybody who loves the sport.
“It is also important that we recognise the contribution and sacrifices made by trainers and jockeys, and the loyalty of their owners, that have combined to keep racing going during the pandemic.
“Vital to the overall success of British racing are our unique racecourses, whose staff have also worked so hard since racing resumed to ensure we remain compliant with Covid rules and guidelines. Supporting their financial recovery is an important part of this plan and will help to ensure our races retain their place as being at the forefront of the global racing scene.”
David Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association (RCA), said: “Racing and racecourses in particular are very grateful to Government for this vital funding boost for the sport in very difficult times. I would also like to thank Sport England for their tireless advice and support in helping us unlock this funding. We are especially grateful to the Levy Board for stepping in and helping us overcome some of the structural challenges we faced in accessing the SWSP – yet another example of their support during the pandemic.
“Racecourses continue to incur significant integrity costs in putting on Racing on a daily basis and this additional support will be very beneficial at such a sensitive time and during the recovery phase over the next 12 months.”
Charlie Liverton (pictured), Chief Executive of the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), said: “The Sports Winter Package loan will provide a much-needed enhancement to prize-money levels as British Racing, along with other major sports, recovers from the impact of COVID-19. It is well noted that owners spend in excess of £30m a month on training fees to ensure that the race programme is fulfilled, along with jockeys riding fees of around £15m per year. We are grateful to have been able to resume behind closed doors for much of the pandemic, albeit for much-reduced prize-money levels, the impact of which has been felt by owners, trainers, jockeys, stable staff and breeders.
“The resilience of owners is such that overall, horses in training numbers are higher than they have been at any time over the past five years. However, it must be recognised that British Racing does have a problem with the number of two-year-olds entering training. It is a concern that the numbers are down on previous years with domestic and international owners choosing to have their horses trained in overseas jurisdictions because of the higher levels of prize-money on offer.
“Prize-money, and its equitable distribution across the participants, is critical to the retention and future growth of owners and the number of horses in training, which in turn will determine British Racing’s standing amongst overseas racing jurisdictions. We are therefore grateful to Government for providing British Racing with much needed and very welcome financial support.”
Paul Darling, Chairman of the HBLB, said: “HBLB is pleased to announce that it has accepted a ten-year loan of £21.5 million from the Government’s Sport Winter Survival Package. This is in keeping with our desire to provide over and above support to the sport in this exceptionally difficult time.
“HBLB’s involvement came about after Racing indicated that there were structural difficulties with Racing taking up the Government’s support and that it considered HBLB the most appropriate vehicle to do so, which would benefit the whole of the sport and that this secondary model was essential if the package was to help the wider industry.
“HBLB then invited Racing’s suggestions as to how the money should be spent in accordance with HBLB’s statutory duties. The Board considered the proposals and sought detailed reassurance from Racing that the money would be properly and appropriately distributed. The Board accepted Racing’s joint submission and assurances.
“The Board had very much in mind that this money is a loan from Government and not a grant. The discussions involved consideration and agreement of how the money being spent is to be repaid. It is critical that the wider sport fully understands that the effect of this arrangement is that the amount of Levy available to spend in future years will be reduced.
“Over the ten-year repayment period, with repayments required in years three to ten, the loan will carry an interest charge of £2.6m. The total repayments of around £24m will be made out of future Levy years’ receipts over that period through a top-slicing of the Board’s allocations to prize-money and raceday services as the first calls on grant expenditure.”
Evaluation of the loan’s impact
Racing’s leaders will closely monitor the effectiveness of the additional payments to ensure money is being deployed successfully, with regular reports to be provided to the HBLB.
The effectiveness of prize-money increases will be measured against the expected reduction in horses in training without intervention, as well as the performance of Britain’s major races internationally, the number of top-class performers remaining in Britain and the number of exports of higher quality horses from Britain during the year.
For racecourses, effectiveness will be measured by how quickly venues can recover from the effects of the pandemic, for example how quickly they can return to previous levels of executive contribution.
CHACUN POUR SOI TOPS 2020/21 JUMPS CLASSIFICATIONS
The Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old enjoyed an almost perfect campaign, winning four of his five starts, including the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival and the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase, another Leopardstown Grade 1, earlier in the campaign.
Defeat came in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, when Chacun Pour Soi could manage only third behind Put The Kettle On  before setting the record straight when back on home soil at Punchestown.
Chacun Pour Soi sits alone atop the standings this year, ahead of the WellChild Gold Cup winner Minella Indo, who has a mark of 175. Trained by Henry De Bromhead, Minella Indo get the better of stablemate A Plus Tard  in a memorable contest, the form given an especially solid look by the presence in third of Al Boum Photo , who was seeking a historic third consecutive win in the race.
Another brilliant Cheltenham performance came courtesy of Allaho, who set pulses racing in the Ryanair Chase to earn a mark of 174 and third place in the standings.
The highest-rated British horse in the standings is the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux, whose thrilling Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup victory in April earned a mark of 172 and rates him the equal of A Plus Tard.
Martin Greenwood, BHA Steeplechase Team Leader, said: “With Irish domination a running theme throughout the 2020/21 season, it is no surprise that they head nearly every division in the latest Anglo-Irish list, limited to performances rated 150 and above for the first time. Chacun Pour Soi is narrowly rated the top chaser on 176 (4lbs higher than last season) with stable companion Allaho rated 2lbs lower on 174 topping the middle-distance division and Minella Indo splitting the pair while finishing in pole position in the staying category. Aintree and Punchestown winner Clan des Obeaux is the only British-trained horse to feature in the 170s.”
Andrew Shaw, Senior IHRB NH Handicapper, said: “There was a clean sweep for Irish‐trained horses in all three steeplechase categories. Allaho put in a spectacular display of jumping when powering his way to victory in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham. Minella Indo produced the best staying performance of the season in the Gold Cup after a couple of disappointing efforts on home soil and Chacun Pour Soi’s electrifying display in the Champion Chase at Punchestown sees him top the overall chase division.”
The 2020/21 Anglo-Irish Jumps Classifications also serve to highlight the excitement to come for fans of the discipline, with a number of novices taking high rank among their more seasoned rivals.
Leading the way are Shishkin and Energumene, each earning marks of 169 during campaigns full of promise. Shishkin, switched to the larger obstacles having won the previous year’s Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, was undefeated in five starts, culminating with the Sporting Life Arkle Chase and Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree for trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Nico De Boinville.
Energumene, meanwhile, missed out on a run at Cheltenham but was otherwise unbeaten in four starts, including a pair of Grade 1s at Leopardstown and Punchestown.
Martin Greenwood, BHA Steeplechase Team Leader, said: “There are plenty of potential superstars in the novice ranks, topped by Energumene and Shishkin in the two-mile division, the pair both rated 169 and both unbeaten, the only disappointment being that they did not get the chance to race against each other.
“Three horses in the longer distance divisions are the next best, all rated 163. Royale Pagaille finished the season on a low note after finishing lame in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and both Envoi Allen and Monkfish blotted their copybooks at Punchestown.”
Shay Quinn, IHRB NH Handicapper, added: “If there was one disappointing aspect to the season, then it had to be the minor setback which ruled Energumene out of the ‘Arkle’ at Cheltenham, thus robbing us of the mouth‐watering clash between he and Shishkin. The latter strolled to victory in his absence but Energumene responded with an electrifying display in the Grade 1, 2‐mile Novice Chase at Punchestown the following month.
“No one can say for sure who is the better of the two and for now we are calling them both the same. Hopefully, we will get the answer in next year’s Champion Chase at Cheltenham, already one of the most eagerly awaited clashes at next year’s Festival.”
In the Hurdle division, it was the brilliant Honeysuckle leading the way with a rating of 165, clear of a trio of fellow Irish-trained stars on 164, Sharjah, Flooring Porter and Klassical Dream.
Andrew Mealor, BHA Hurdle team leader, said: “The hurdling scene in 2020/2021 was dominated by the Irish who were responsible for the highest-rated horses in each distance category, including in the novice division. The star of the season was undoubtedly Honeysuckle (165) whose dominant display in the Champion Hurdle was the highlight of another unbeaten campaign.
“Honours were shared in the staying division between Stayers’ Hurdle winner Flooring Porter and impressive Punchestown scorer Klassical Dream (both 164), and hot on their heels were the leading British stayers Paisley Park (163) and Thyme Hill (162) who served up a cracking finish to the Long Walk Hurdle earlier in the season.
“Overall, 2020-21 was another low-key season for the established hurdlers in ratings terms with Honeysuckle the only hurdler to rate 165+, though we did see some standout performances in the novice division, notably at Cheltenham from Appreciate It (160) and Bob Olinger (159), who both top their respective categories.
“There were some positives too for the British at Aintree. Monmiral (153) rates as the season’s best juvenile following a comprehensive success over Triumph runner-up Adagio in the Anniversary Hurdle and he has the scope to suggest he can improve further and make his mark in open company next season. My Drogo (155) is the highest-rated British novice following wide-margin wins in graded events at Kelso and Aintree and he will prove an exciting addition to the novice chasing ranks next season.”
Andrew Shaw, Senior IHRB NH Handicapper, said: “Honeysuckle was the stand‐out hurdler of the season in an unbeaten campaign which resulted in four Grade 1 victories from as many starts, with the highlight being her scintillating display in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, earning her the season’s highest mark of 165. Her rate of improvement over the past couple of years would indicate that there is every chance she could better that figure next season.”
Shay Quinn, IHRB NH Handicapper, added of the novice hurdlers: “Appreciate It was a hugely impressive winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and his rating of 160 puts him in the same bracket as some of the best winners of the race in recent years. Bob Olinger on 159 was equally impressive in the Ballymore and also has a very bright future, whether that be over hurdles or fences.
“The winner of the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham, Galopin Des Champs, showed himself to be much more than just a handicapper with a comprehensive victory in the 3‐mile Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, earning him a figure of 155, and he will be a leading player in the staying hurdle division next season if connections choose to go down that route.”
JOCKEY CLUB COURSES UP PRIZE MONEY BY £3M
1 June: Prize money at The Jockey Club’s racecourses is set to increase by more than £3 million for the remainder of 2021 in a move that will see its fixtures in the second half of the year run within 9% of pre-pandemic levels.
The Jockey Club is committing to increase prize money with racegoers starting to return, albeit in heavily restricted numbers at this stage, and with more confidence around industry funding. Finances at the largest commercial group in British Racing remain constrained after more than a year of significantly reduced revenues, which will continue to impact it for some time.
Updated plans for 2021, prior to any abandonments or further pandemic restrictions, now see total prize money due to exceed £42 million for the year, spread across all levels of the sport given The Jockey Club operates 15 racecourses, large and small. This total is before additional funding from the industry’s Appearance Money Scheme (AMS).
Increases will be seen immediately, including at the Derby meeting with a further £65,000 being added to the card compared to advertised values, and with a £135,000 boost for Coral-Eclipse Day.
In 2020, Jockey Club Racecourses distributed £30.5 million in prize money. The pandemic caused the abandonment of fixtures from mid-March up to June – including the Randox Grand National which is normally worth £1 million alone – and the overall loss of more than £90 million from the group’s revenues, which is a trend that has continued through the first half of 2021.
While The Jockey Club did not pass the full extent of this income drop through into prize money, the heavy financial impact of the pandemic has forced the reduction of race values across British Racing.
Prior to up to 4,000 racegoers being able to attend racecourses from 17 May, spectators have not been able to enjoy racing fixtures in person for more than a year, aside from a short period in December for selected parts of the UK. Spectators account for nearly 50% of revenues at Jockey Club Racecourses, with a further 10% of its income coming from staging conferences and other types of events, which have also been unable to take place.
ITV TO SHOW THREE SUNDAY RACE MEETINGS IN FULL
27 May: Three Sunday meetings are to be shown in full by ITV4 this summer with the launch of the Sky Bet Sunday Series.
Prize-money totalling £600,000 will be on offer across seven-race cards at Musselburgh (25 July), Haydock (8 August) and Sandown (22 August).
The programmes will be on air from 3.45pm to 7pm and will include behind-the-scenes features as well as showcasing lesser-known horses, trainers and jockeys.
RACING LEAGUE ANNOUNCES MAJOR MEDIA DEAL WITH SUN, TIMES AND TALKSPORT
27 May: Racing League, the new horseracing team competition, has announced a multi-million pound partnership with News UK – the owner of radio station, talkSPORT and publisher of national titles including The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, with the collaboration aiming to open up racing to a more diverse and mainstream audience.
The Sun will publish Racing League pull-outs containing interviews, stats, guides and tips, ahead of each of the six consecutive Thursday evening race meetings, which are set to be hosted at Newcastle, Doncaster, Lingfield Park and Windsor racecourses this summer.
In the build-up to the series curtain raiser at Newcastle Racecourse on Thursday 29 July, and in addition to publishing six weekly columns, The Times will feature a comprehensive Racing League preview, profiling jockeys, such as Hollie Doyle, Frankie Dettori, and Oisin Murphy, and trainers, including John Gosden, Andrew Balding and Richard Fahey, who will make up the 12 confirmed teams.
Racing in bespoke team colours, Racing League’s 12 teams – each consisting of 2-4 trainers working together, three jockeys, stable staff and a squad of 30 horses – will compete across 36 handicap races, for a total prize fund of over £2m.
All of Racing League’s 36 races will be aired live on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2, which will be anchored by the station’s team of presenters, with an outside broadcast hosted live from the Racing League series opener at Newcastle Racecourse on Thursday 29 July.
The Sun’s fantasy game specialist, Dream Team will partner with Racing League, giving both horseracing enthusiasts and those new to the sport an opportunity to pick and manage their ultimate racing team, with the overall champion banking £10,000.
Sky Sports Racing will televise the series
BARNEY CURLEY, TRAINER AND MASTERMIND OF HUGE BETTING COUPS, DIES AGED 81
23 May: Barney Curley, who masterminded one of racing’s most famous betting coups and who was a successful former trainer, has died at the age of 81.
As well as his gambles, Curley was also known for the work he did for his charity, Direct Aid For Africa, which he founded in 1996. It followed the death of his son in a car accident.
The most successful of the Northern Ireland-born Curley’s gambles involved Yellow Sam at Bellewstown in June 1975.
With military precision, Curley gave instructions to an army of compatriots for the coordinated placing SP bets at numerous betting shops. At the track he had a lieutenant commondere Bellewstown’s only telephone (he was trying to get through to an I’ll aunt), which prevented bookmaker firms from placing money with on-course layers in order to bring the price down from 20/1 to a probable odds-on SP.
Curley’s former assistant trainer John Butler paid tribute to his Newmarket-based boss, who had battled against cancer.
“He died very peacefully on the stud on Sunday. It was pretty sudden, he got poorly very quickly.”
“I came over to England (from Ireland) 18 to 20 years ago and worked for him for seven or eight years. It’s a sad day.” said Butler.
“His charity was his main thing the last 10 or 15 years, it was always the charity no matter what.
“Every day it was his charity. On several occasions we emptied furniture out of schools and filled containers and he always went away and the charity came first. The horses were there, but the charity was a massive thing.
“You could spend all night talking about him. He was very good to me, he was just one of those people.”
Curley, who had his last runners in 2012, was pivotal in the early careers of such jockeys as Frankie Dettori and Jamie Spencer.
Butler added: “He was good to Spencer and (Tom) Queally and Shane Kelly, Frankie – I think Frankie went to see him every day for the last two or three weeks.”
Adding his tribute, multiple champion National Hunt jockey Sir Anthony McCoy wrote on Twitter: “Very sad to hear that Barney Curley has passed away.
“Feel lucky to have enjoyed his company – a man with well-founded legendary status as a trainer/gambler, but one who also raised lots for the charity Direct Aid For Africa. RIP.”
Gold Cup and Grand National-winning trainer Jonjo O’Neill tweeted: “Very sorry to hear the sad news that Barney Curley has died. One of racing’s great characters. RIP.”
MIDDLEHAM TRAINER LIAM BAILEY FINED £4,500 FOR VIOLENT BEHAVIOUR
13 May: Middleham trainer Liam Bailey has been fined £4,500 for violent and improper conduct towards a female member of staff at his stable.
The victim recorded some of the incident, which took place in October 2019, on her phone and it shows Bailey shouting, swearing and lunging at her in what a disciplinary panel described as “a truly shocking incident”.
Representing himself, Bailey set out to explain that the incident was the culmination of difficulties between himself and the member of staff, whom he said was repeatedly late to work, including on this occasion. But he added: “I still shouldn’t have acted how I did, I accept that.”
Bailey and the BHA agreed on the facts of the case ahead of the hearing, meaning the victim did not have to attend the hearing On the day in question, she was late at the yard for evening stables, having had what she described as “car trouble”.
At the beginning of the available footage, the staffer was working inside a stable with a horse and Bailey was standing just outside. “You were late, you were f****** late,” he shouted at her. “Get it into your head. You were late! It don’t have to be anybody else’s fault if you were late!”
The staffer replied: “If you ever try and hit me . . .” at which point Bailey wrenched aside a wheelbarrow and advanced into the box, shouting: “I don’t give a f***! I don’t give a f***!” At this point, the footage ended as Bailey reached for her mobile phone.
Delivering the verdict, David Fish QC told Bailey: “This was a truly shocking incident involving appalling language, violent and threatening behaviour on your part, culminating in you grabbing the young lady by her arm in an effort to obtain a mobile phone, which you must have known was filming your behaviour.
“The footage which we have seen, each member of the panel has found to be very disturbing indeed and it paints you on this occasion in a very bad and poor light indeed. This was done in the confines of a stable in which a racehorse was present and that could have had terrible consequences, had that racehorse reacted in the wrong way.”
The victim left Bailey’s employment the a week after the incident and now works at another yard.
BRYONY FROST VOTED APRIL’S JOCKEY OF THE MONTH
11 May: Congratulations to Bryony Frost, voted Jockey of the Month for April in a poll run by Great British Racing.
A brilliant month for Bryony, who beat Rachel Blackmore and Harry Skelton, with the highlight being her Sandown Park double with Frodon and Greaneteen.
Frost, who earlier in the season became the first woman to win the King George VI Chase with Frodon, steered her long-term partner to another victory in the bet365 Oaksey Chase.
The 26-year-old then rode Greaneteen to a fantastic win in the bet365 Celebration Chase, beating the likes of Altior and Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, Put The Kettle On.
During April, Frost also claimed victories at both Warwick and Market Rasen.
JESSICA HARRINGTON BANNED AND FINED FOR COVID PROTOCOL BREACH
10 May: Trainer Jessica Harrington has been barred from attending a racecourse for two weeks and has been fined €3,500 for contravening coronavirus restrictions during Aintree’s Grand National meeting.
An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board hearing concluded that Harrington (pictured) “acted in a manner which was prejudicial to the proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing”, and ruled she must not attend a racecourse for two weeks from 24 May.
Harrington travelled to Aintree without staying in the ‘Irish bubble’, set up for the duration of the three-day meeting in line with Covid-19 protocols.
The trainer told the hearing she was aware of what was required in terms of accommodation within the ‘Irish bubble’ set up for those travelling to Aintree but that her intention was to travel to Aintree from her home on the Saturday and return to Ireland the same evening, therefore not be required to enter the ‘Irish bubble’.
However, she felt that making the journey to Aintree in one day would be too exhausting and changed her plans to travel on Friday instead and use the opportunity to carry out some independent business with owners by viewing a horse they had requested her to look at – and she accepted an offer to stay at their accommodation.
Harrington added that she felt at the time she was not breaking the rules, because she never entered the Irish bubble on the race day – but now accepts she was in breach of the protocols.
In determining the appropriate sanction, hearing chairman Mr Justice Raymond Groarke noted that “a breach of these protocols could have enormous consequences for racing in Ireland and that Mrs. Harrington accepts that she has been in breach of the rules”.
RACEGOERS CAN RETURN TO THE TRACK FROM 17 MAY
10 May: Racecourses are set to welcome spectators through their turnstiles once more from 17 May, following confirmation from the UK Government that the next stage of its roadmap out of lockdown will go ahead as planned.
The announcement means an end to ‘behind closed doors’ racing in England and the beginning of a safe return for spectators, with up to 4,000 people permitted to attend meetings from Monday 17 May.
It also marks a significant step in the return to a more traditional racecourse experience, with planning under way to allow owners to see their horses and meet with trainers and jockeys in the parade ring from this date, as a result of changes to elements of the existing raceday protocols.
These developments are in line with plans set out in February for British racing’s easing of lockdown restrictions, aligned to the UK Government roadmap and its guidelines for sporting events.
Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), said:
“It is extremely exciting that we are finally able to welcome racegoers back to our racecourses. It will allow racing’s many fans to come back to the sport they love after more than a year away. We know there is a huge public demand for families and friends to meet up, outdoors, enjoy great food and drink and the unique social occasion of a race-meeting.
“In addition, from next week, racing can once again offer our owners the opportunity to feel much closer to the action on a racecourse by returning to the parade ring. Racing’s leaders very much appreciate the commitment and patience shown by owners over the past year when their attendance and experience at racecourses has been restricted by the pandemic.”
David Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association (RCA), said:
“This next step in the Government’s roadmap is hugely important milestone in the recovery of British Racing. Racecourses are very excited to welcome racegoers back and to be able to offer them a full raceday experience whilst extending our provision for owners to whom the sport remain greater in for their continued support.
“Lockdown began almost 14 months ago and it has been a very challenging journey for the industry and for racecourses in particular though several false starts and aborted pilot events. May the 17th marks a key step on the return to normality.”
Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) said:
“Owners have played a critical role in keeping horse racing going behind closed doors throughout the past 12 months, contributing over £30 million a month in training fees alone. Whilst the invoices have continued, the ability to go racing and be a part of the race day experience has been greatly hindered as the country, and the wider industry, dealt with the pandemic at large. It is therefore a welcome step that come May 17th owners can get a step closer to the action with a return to the parade ring.
“There is more work to be done and we will continue to work with the BHA and RCA to improve the race day experience for owners, whilst recognising this milestone in the Government’s roadmap.”
Under current proposals, from 17 May the Green Zone will be limited to key indoor working areas only, such as the weighing room, where existing infection control measures will remain in place, including social distancing, entry screening and mandatory face coverings.
On most courses, all other areas including the parade ring and stables will be separated from the Green Zone, with entry screening reduced for trainers, stable staff, the media, and others. This will give owners access to the parade ring to see their horse and speak to their trainer and jockey in a safe and managed environment.
Social distancing will continue to apply, as required by government guidelines. Given the mixing of personnel from different zones and the risk of close contact in the parade ring, racecourses will be required to limit numbers entering the area. Face coverings will be mandatory in the parade ring areas and indoors – in line with government guidance – but not elsewhere on course.
These changes will start to be introduced at courses in England initially, with British racing seeking to have the same rules applied in Scotland and Wales.
The ability of racecourses to implement the new measures in full will be determined by their size and layout, with some required to take a more phased approach.
Specific arrangements also remain subject to approval from individual local authorities, which license sporting and hospitality events and may impose local variations.
Full details, including revised protocols to apply from 17 May, will be issued later this week.
In the longer-term, British racing, in common with other major sports, is planning for a full return of spectators and further easing of on-course restrictions at the next stage (Step 4) of the UK Government’s roadmap, which is scheduled for 21 June at the earliest.
The Government is not likely to confirm its plans until one week before the changes are scheduled to come into effect, but British racing is liaising with officials at national and local level to press for a return to full crowds.
The BHA’s Chief Medical Adviser, Dr Jerry Hill, said:
“Low COVID-19 prevalence, rising vaccination levels and the wider availability of NHS testing have put British racing in a position to ease some of the infection control measures that our sport has followed so diligently since June last year.
“Like other sports, we are taking a measured approach, with incremental changes to balance protecting key raceday personnel with the return of a more traditional racecourse experience, particularly for owners and trainers.
“For now, all those going to a meeting, as participants, owners, or racing fans, will still be asked to observe social distancing and other COVID restrictions as in other areas of life.
“If we can all maintain those responsible behaviours for the next few weeks, it will help speed the return of 100% attendances and the further relaxation and in due course removal of physical COVID-19 infection control measures.
“I also want to thank all of our sport’s participants for continuing to follow our on-course protocols, particularly around the weighing room complex and other close contact areas like the parade ring. This will help ensure that courses remain safe environments as the number of attendees increases.”
£80m PROJECTED LEVY OFFERS FLEXIBILITY FOR INVESTMENT IN RACING’S RECOVERY PLAN
10 May: Projected income from the levy for the last financial year of around £80m is set to give the Levy Board flexibility in its options to support racing’s recovery plan in the coming months.
The Levy Board’s most recent estimated range of was £76m to £85m and takes into account provisional submissions from bookmakers.
The 2019-20 figure was £98m.
The expected £80m reflects racing not taking place for the first two months of the last levy year, with the loss of the Grand National, and betting shops being closed or operating under restrictions.
Levy Board chairman Paul Darling said: “There was no British racing for the first two months of the levy year and it was far from certain when racing resumed in June 2020 as to what the level of betting activity would be in the months that followed. We have also seen licensed betting offices either closed completely for parts of the year or open with restrictions.
“Since June, we have attempted to balance on the one hand our desire to commit substantial extra support for the sport from our reserves with, on the other hand, the uncertainty around our own ongoing future income.”
Darling reported that the Levy Board spent £96m in the past levy year, contributing around 50% more to prize-money than is usually the case. There was also a £3m spend towards the costs incurred to ensure racing could continue in accordance with Covid-19 protocols.
Darling went on to say: “On the basis of £80m income, our reserves at the end of the 2020-21 levy year stood at just over £40m. This will give us the flexibility to consider further significant investment in the months ahead, as the board has had in mind the importance of having sufficient resources for the recovery phase from Covid-19.”
BHA Executive Director Will Lambe said:
“We thank the Horserace Betting Levy Board for the work it has done over the past year to support racing through this crisis, increasing its expenditure so that prize money levels could be maintained wherever possible, and providing additional funding to racecourses.
“We also thank our colleagues in the betting industry who do so much to promote racing to their customers. These results demonstrate the potential for growing the public’s engagement in racing, the benefits this can bring to the tens of thousands of people employed in both our industries and to the country as whole, especially in rural economies.
“As British racing battles to recover from the financial impact of COVID, this is an encouraging moment as we strive to achieve better funding for our world-class industry, including a fair and sustainable Levy.”
PUNCHESTOWN GETS PLANNING PERMISSION FOR NEW FLAT TRACK
10 May: Planning permission has been granted for a €5 million development of a new Flat track at Punchestown.
The plans include the widening of the home straight, an extension of the track providing an additional racing surface and relocation of reservoirs around the track.
There will be two separate phases to the project, starting after next year’s Festival with completion expected by 2025.
A Flat race fixture was held at Punchestown last year, the first for 17 years. The track extension will mean 12 furlong races can be run over a course with a single bend.
BOB BAFFERT TRAINED KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER TESTS POSITIVE FOR BANNED SUBSTANCE
9 May: Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, trained by Bob Baffert, has tested positive for a banned substance during a post-race examination.
Baffert confirmed to the press that Medina Spirit had tested positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug
Speaking outside of his Churchill Downs barn accompanied by a legal team, he described the findings as “shocking”, saying the horse has never been treated with the medication.
Medina Spirit had given the Hall of Fame trainer his seventh success in the ‘Run for the Roses’ last Saturday.
Baffert said: “Even though it’s an allowed drug, Medina Spirit has never been treated. Yesterday I got the biggest gut-punch for something I didn’t do.
“It’s such an injustice to the horse. I don’t feel embarrassed, I feel like I was wronged. But I’m going to fight it.
“There are problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but why is it happening to me?
“Something’s not right here. It’s not an official disqualification yet, not until the split sample. I was totally shocked when I heard this news.”
Betamethasone is a steroid medication, used for a number of diseases including rheumatic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. It is also used to treat skin diseases such as dermatitis and psoriasis, allergic conditions such as asthma and angioedema, preterm labor to speed the development of the baby’s lungs, Crohn’s disease, cancers such as leukemia, and along with fludrocortisone for adrenocortical insufficiency, among others. It can be injected into a muscle.
TOM BELLAMY ANNOUNCED AS NEW STABLE JOCKEY FOR EMMA LABELLE
7 May: Tom Bellamy has been named stable jockey at Emma Lavelle’s yard – the first time someone has held the position in 10 years.
Lavelle said in a statement: “Many of you will have noticed as the season had progressed that Tom Bellamy had been riding more for us, and with his strike rate on our horses being extremely impressive, we had a conversation with Tom about whether he would become a more permanent member of the team and we are delighted to say that he has embraced the opportunity and going forward from now I am extremely happy to announce Tom Bellamy is our stable jockey.
“Adam Wedge, Ben Jones and Aidan Coleman will continue to ride for us when opportunities arise so we should be very well served by top class riders for the forthcoming season.”
WHIP CONSULTATION STEERING GROUP CONFIRMED
6 May: The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has confirmed the membership of a Whip Consultation Steering Group which will have responsibility for oversight of the process and decision-making in relation to the forthcoming consultation regarding the use of the foam-padded whip in British racing.
The group draws on individuals from a wide range of backgrounds across the racing industry including trainers, jockeys, owners, breeders, racecourses and stable staff. It also includes representation from wider sectors including politics, horse welfare and the media.
The group is chaired by former racecourse Stewards’ Panel Chair, racecourse committee member and racehorse owner David Jones, who is also an Independent Regulatory Director on the Board of the BHA.
As part of the independent Horse Welfare Board (HWB)’s strategic plan, A life well lived – a new strategic plan for the welfare of horses bred for racing 2020-2024, a recommendation was made that a public consultation should be conducted by the BHA regarding the use of the whip in British racing.
This consultation aims to gather and assess the viewpoints of industry participants, non-industry stakeholders and wider public audiences, regarding rules, usage and penalties. The Horse Welfare Board noted that, in their view, the need to increase penalties for whip offences is a clear, minimum recommendation. Otherwise no explicit recommendations were made as to what the outcome of the consultation should be.
The Steering Group will play an active role in the process, not only ensuring that the consultation – which is being run by a BHA project team – is managed in line with objectives and expectations, but also providing practical experience, expertise and insight.
Once it has reviewed and assessed the consultation feedback, it will aim to reach a consensus and make recommendations that help to determine the outcome of the process.
Full membership of the Whip Consultation Steering Group is as follows:
- David Jones (Chair), BHA Independent Regulatory Non-Executive Director
- Tom Blain, Managing Director, Barton Stud
- Henry Daly, Racehorse trainer
- Celia Djivanovic, Racehorse owner
- Tom Goff, founding partner, Blandford Bloodstock
- John Gosden OBE, Racehorse trainer
- Baroness Hayman of Ullock, Member of the House of Lords
- Dr Neil Hudson MP FRCVS, Member of Parliament, academic & veterinary surgeon
- Nick Luck, Broadcaster and journalist
- P J McDonald, Professional jockey
- Roly Owers MRCVS, Chief Executive Officer, World Horse Welfare, and veterinary surgeon
- James Savage, Head Lad/Assistant to Sir Michael Stoute
- Tom Scudamore, Professional jockey
- Nick Smith, Director of Racing and Public Affairs, Ascot Racecourse
- Sulekha Varma, North West Head of Racing, Jockey Club Racecourses, Clerk of the Course (Aintree Racecourse)
To ensure alignment between the BHA’s project team and the Steering Group, the BHA’s project lead and executive lead will also attend Steering Group meetings.
The Steering Group held its first meeting last week. The Group will now work towards finalising an agreed timescale for the consultation process, which is currently planned to run in the second half of this year.
David Jones, Chair of the Whip Consultation Steering Group, said:
“It is essential that the consultation process is fair, open and transparent and the views of all parties are considered. In addition, any decisions must be made by those who have a deep understanding and knowledge of the subject matter and who are willing to both represent and consider a range of perspectives.
“The role of the Steering Group will be to ensure that all of these requirements are met. The breadth of expertise and experience that has come together to form this group is truly impressive.”
Brant Dunshea, Chief Regulatory Officer for the BHA, said:
“The whips used in British racing are foam-padded and were designed with input from the RSPCA. Its use in races is subject to strict controls.
“The Horse Welfare Board were clear, however, that the use of the whip is an issue of public trust in the sport, and that the racing industry must be mindful of public opinion if it is to safeguard its long-term future.
“By carrying out this consultation we are looking to facilitate a positive, open debate about an important issue. Any decisions will be for racing to make, and the Steering Group’s expertise from across the racing industry – alongside the perspectives of representatives of other independent sectors – will play a leading part in this process.”
SALIVA TESTS BEGIN TO SCREEN JOCKEYS FOR COCAINE
5 May: A pilot programme to assess the use of saliva testing as a method of screening for cocaine and some other banned substances is now under way on British racecourses.
The testing method uses oral swabs to provide a near-instant indication as to whether substances are present in a rider’s system, above the existing thresholds.
British racing will become the first major sport in Britain to utilise on-the-day screening for banned substances through oral swabs, should the pilot prove successful.
Under the pilot, any jockey who does not test negative would be stood down from riding for the day, which brings with it added benefits in safeguarding human and equine welfare on raceday.
Tests took place at Kempton Park on Monday and Lingfield Park on Tuesday this week, with all jockeys returning a negative sample.
The pilot will continue over a period of two months, during which time the testing methodology and raceday procedures can be assessed and improved where necessary, prior to a decision being taken as to whether the matrix can be rolled out on a more permanent basis.
Saliva testing is highly cost effective, and if the pilot proves successful there could result a significant increase in raceday testing, which would be further supported by increased budget being allocated to testing.
IRISH JUMPS CHAMPIONS CROWNED AT PUNCHESTOWN
1 May: The winners of four of the six championship categories were only confirmed at this year’s Punchestown Festival and, for the first time, a brother and sister are among the title winners as Paul Townend retains his Champion Jockey crown and Jody becomes Champion Lady Amateur Rider.
The champions for the 2020/2021 National Hunt season are:
- Champion Owner: JP McManus
- Champion Trainer: Willie Mullins
- Champion Jockey: Paul Townend
- Champion Conditional: Simon Torrens
- Champion Amateur: Patrick Mullin
- Champion Lady Amateur Rider: Jody Townend
JP McManus is the Champion Owner for the first time in seven years and for the 18th time in all.
He has wrestled back the title from Gigginstown House Stud thanks to the exploits of the likes of The Tote Galway Plate winner Early Doors, Dublin Racing Festival winners Off You Go, Drop The Anchor and A Wave Of The Sea, Leinster National winner Scoir Mear and the Fairyhouse Easter Festival winners Janidil and Hearts Are Trumps.
For the 15th time, Willie Mullins (pictured) is Ireland’s Champion Trainer. His most significant winners on home soil were the three-time Grade 1 scorer Chacun Pour Soi and dual Grade 1 winners Appreciate It, Colreevy, Monkfish, Energumene and Gaillard Du Mesnil.
Kemboy won the Irish Gold Cup while the likes of Aramon, Cabaret Queen, Castlebawn West and Maze Runner have all been significant handicap winners for the Closutton trainer.
Paul Townend (pictured) is Champion Jockey for the third successive time and for the fourth time in his brilliant career.
He has reached a three-figure tally for the third time and among his highlights this season were the multiple Grade 1 winners Chacun Pour Soi, Energumene, Monkfish, Appreciate It and Gaillard Du Mesnil.
Paul was crowned champion jockey for the first time in the 2010/11 season and ends this season with 100 winners.
Each Leading Lady Rider since 1974 has been presented with the Mary Hyde Perpetual Cup and this season’s winner is Jody Townend who once again has proven herself a jockey for the big occasion with success at this week’s Punchestown festival.
Jody’s breakthrough win came on Great White Shark in the Connacht Hotel Amateur Riders Handicap at the 2019 Galway festival, she partnered subsequent Group 1 winner Princess Zoe to handicap success at the Curragh last year, won the Grade 2 Coolmore NH Sires EBF Mares INH Flat Race on Grangee at this year’s Dublin Racing Festival and won Tuesday’s Goffs Land Rover Bumper on Adamantly Chosen.
Jody and Paul Townend are the first brother and sister to win championship titles in the same season.
From Castlederg, County Tyrone, Simon Torrens is the Champion Conditional Jockey. Simon enjoyed a number of high-profile handicap wins during the season, notably at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in February where he partnered the Pat Fahy-trained Drop The Anchor to win the Ladbrokes Hurdle and A Wave Of The Sea, trained by Joseph O’Brien, to win the Matheson Handicap Chase, both horses owned by JP McManus.
Drop The Anchor was also a winner for Torrens at the Listowel Festival last September and more recently, he also donned the McManus colours to win the Leinster National Handicap Chase at Naas on Scoir Mear for trainer Tom Mullins.
Patrick Mullins saw off a determined challenge from his great rival Jamie Codd to become Champion Amateur rider for the 13th time.
Patrick’s season was highlighted by Grade 1 successes on Klassical Dream, Min, Sharjah and Echoes In Rain while he won the Guinness Galway Hurdle on Aramon last July.
Patrick enjoyed high-level bumper victories on Kilcruit at the Dublin Racing Festival and with Dark Raven at Fairyhouse at Easter.
NOW CAZOO SPONSORS THE ST LEGER
26 April: Cazoo, the online car retailer has announced a partnership with Arena Racing Company (‘ARC’) to become the headline sponsor of the World’s oldest Classic, the St Leger Stakes.
This new partnership will give Cazoo exclusive naming rights for the four-day festival along with multiple races which will be broadcast live on both ITV Racing and Sky Sports Racing and will include significant on course brand exposure.
The Cazoo St Leger Festival will take place at Doncaster Racecourse from Wednesday 8 September 2021 with the feature Cazoo St Leger Stakes on Saturday 11 September. The deal also includes year- round prominent branding for Cazoo across the full portfolio of 16 ARC racecourses.
Cazoo is also to sponsor the Oaks and Derby at Epsom
FIRST HALL OF FAMERS REVEALED
26 April: The first Hall Of Famers to be announced are believed by many to be the greatest racehorse and jockey of all time, Frankel and Lester Piggott.
First up Frankel, the highest rated racehorse ever. The equine champion was unbeaten in his 14 race career; his complete dominance on the track was unlike anything racing fans have seen before or since.
Lester Piggott was quite simply a sporting titan. In a career that spanned an incredible six different decades he won over 4,400 races.
The list of the man’s achievements is seismic. To name just a few; 11 times Champion Jockey, record nine Derby winners, 30 Classics, 116 Royal Ascot triumphs and the Triple Crown with Nijinsky.
FLAT RACING’S GREATS TO BE CELEBRATED IN HALL OF FAME
21 April: QIPCO British Champions Series Hall Of Fame will launch next week ahead of the QIPCO Guineas Festival, to coincide with the 10th Anniversary of sponsorship of Britain’s Premiere Flat Racing.
The Hall Of Fame will be unveiled on 26 April when the inaugural Hall Of Famers will be announced. The Hall of Fame will immortalise the Modern Greats of British Flat racing – human and equine – from 1970 onwards.
Membership of the Hall of Fame will, say the organisers, become one of the highest accolades within the sport, reflecting extraordinary achievements and contributions to British Flat racing, while providing a reason to celebrate horseracing’s most famous stars.
New Hall of Famers will be inducted at two separate points during the Flat racing season: ahead of May’s QIPCO Guineas Festival at Newmarket and QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot in October, marking the beginning and end of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Inductions into the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame will be decided by an independent panel of horseracing experts, who will agree which horses and individuals are to be given the honour of being inducted.
The panel will also agree an annual shortlist of horses to be put to the public vote, with the winning horse also joining the Hall of Fame in October each year. Members of the Hall of Fame judging panel for 2021/22 are:
- Martin Mitchell, Former Tattersalls Bloodstock Director
- Emma Berry, European Editor, Thoroughbred Daily News
- Brough Scott, Racing Broadcaster and Journalist
- Jamie Lynch, Racing Broadcaster and Journalist
- James Delahooke, International Bloodstock Agent
- Lydia Hislop, Racing Broadcaster and Journalist
- Alan Byrne, Editor-in-Chief, Racing Post
- Ruth Quinn, Racing Director, BHA
The Hall of Fame will exist online at Horseracinghof.com, where a range of expertly-curated written, pictorial and video content will pay tribute to Hall of Famers, as well as figures of historical importance. While the Hall of Fame itself will focus on the Modern Greats of 1970 onwards, the website will also tell racing’s story, from its origins in the 17th century and up to today, highlighting the sport’s rich history and the contributions of the stars of yesteryear who laid the foundations for modern racing.
APPRENTICE BENOIT DE LA SAYETTE TESTS POSITIVE FOR COCAINE METABOLIC
20 April: Apprentice jockey Benoit de la Sayette has tested positive for metabolic of cocaine the Professional Jockeys Association has announced.
In a statement he said: “I cannot apologise enough for my actions, both in respect of taking cocaine and of misleading those around me. There are no excuses and I am sorry for letting down my family, the team at Clarehaven Stables, Mr Gosden and my colleagues in the weighing room.”
Sayette, attached to John and Thady Gosden’s stable, has ridden 12 winners from 49 rides this year, a strike-rate of 24%.
AMATEUR JOCKEY LORNA BROOKE DIES AFTER TAUNTON FALL
19 April: Amateur jockey Lorna Brooke has died following a heavy fall at Taunton earlier this month. She was 37. The Injured Jockeys Fund announced her passing in a statement:
“It is with deep sadness that we have to share the tragic news that Lorna Brooke passed away yesterday.
“Her family thank everyone for their kindness in the last ten days, particularly the staff at Southmeads Hospital who were so professional. They will be having a private funeral and will hold a celebration of Lorna’s life once Covid-19 restrictions allow. Any donations to go to the Injured Jockeys Fund.”
The jockey was treated on track before being airlifted to Bristol’s Southmead Hospital on 8 April after falling from Orchestrated, trained by her mother Lady Susan Brooke, in the 2m7f handicap chase.
She went into intensive care where she went under observation and tests for a suspected spinal injury, but due to complications she was placed in an induced coma on Friday.
Brooke, a 7lb claiming amateur, rode 17 winners in Britain and Ireland, including the inaugural running of a Ladies Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse on Moonlone Lane for Paul Stafford.
The BHA issued the following statement:
We are deeply saddened to learn the tragic news of Lorna Brooke’s passing. The entire racing community is in mourning today and our thoughts are with Lorna’s family and friends.
We ask for the privacy of Lorna’s family to be respected at this time and we await the opportunity to celebrate her young life when restrictions allow.
The Chief Executive of the BHA, Julie Harrington, said: “Everybody at the BHA is devastated by this news. Lorna was a much-loved member of our sport, in which she and her family are steeped.
“Lorna demonstrated many of the qualities that make British racing so special. She was a proud competitor and somebody who was driven by an abundance of love not only for the sport but for the horses she competed with.
“My thoughts, along with everybody else who loves racing, are with Lorna’s family, friends and colleagues at this dreadful time.”
One of the first to pay tribute was Jonjo O’Neill who said in a tweet:
“This is so incredibly sad. All of our thoughts are with all Lorna’s family and friends.”
Matt Chapman tweeted:
“Amateur jockey Lorna Brooke has sadly and tragically passed away. We can only send our deepest sympathy to her friends and family. And remember the sport we love can be so so tough.”
BRITISH AND IRISH JUMP RACING TO HAVE UNIFIED WEIGHT-FOR-AGE SCALE
13 April: The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) have announced a unified Anglo-Irish Jumps weight-for-age (WFA) scale.
The new scale will come into effect at the beginning of the 2021/22 Jumps season and therefore apply to races staged from 1 May 2021 in Britain and races from 3 May 2021 in Ireland. As such, the changes will not apply during the Punchestown Festival, which runs from 27 April to 1 May.
The changes, which were approved by the BHA Board and the Board of the IHRB in March, sees Britain’s WFA scale increase and Ireland’s decrease by similar amounts, which in summary will mean:
- The time at which four-year-old hurdlers in Britain receive an allowance will increase by 2 months at all distances;
- The time four- and five-year-old hurdlers in Ireland receive an allowance will decrease by 4 months at all distances:
- The time four- and five-year-old chasers in Britain receive an allowance will remain unchanged at 2m and 2½m but will be extended by one month at 3m;
- The time four- and five-year-old chasers in Ireland receive an allowance will be decreased by 4 months at all distances;
- Allowance changes will occur on the monthly basis currently used in Ireland rather than the fortnightly changes used in Britain.
The agreement of a unified WFA scale follows more than a year of work, led by the BHA’s Head of Handicapping, Dominic Gardiner-Hill, and Andrew Shaw, the IHRB’s Senior Jumps Handicapper. The scale has been developed through detailed data analysis, with a view to providing the most accurate model possible for the different age groups.
The adjustments have resulted from an ongoing process of review and improvement, which is designed to ensure that handicapping methodologies remain the most suitable based on-up-to date and comprehensive analysis of data and emerging trends.
There is also scope for further refinement of the unified Jumps WFA scale, with the collection of combined symmetrical data in both countries – something that had not previously been possible – and a full review every three years.
TOTE LAUNCHES 10% ENHANCEMENT FOR DIVIDENDS
12 April: The Tote is launching a new concession from tomorrow for customers who place their bets directly with the pool operator.
The initiative, which aims to take market share from bookmakers, is called Tote+ and gives a 10% enhancement to dividends on pool bets placed direct with tote.co.uk on all British and Irish races.
Stakes are not capped and the Tote+ enhancement applies to dividends over £/€1.20, and includes the Scoop6 and Placepot. It will be available on the Tote’s website, app and at tote.ie for Irish customers.
Jamie Hart, UK Tote Group’s racing and liquidity director, said: “We want to reward customers for betting with us and ensure they receive the best possible value.
“Tote+, combined with Tote Guarantee, means Tote customers will never be paid less on win bets, and more if the pool price is bigger, while on all pool bets they will be receiving 10 per cent more than the official dividend every time they bet with the Tote.”
3 April: Four-times champion jump jockey Richard Johnson has announced his retirement from the race riding with immediate effect
Johnson broke the news at Newton Abbot and said:
“After nearly 30 years in the saddle, the time has come for me to retire,” he said in a statement. “I have been so extraordinarily lucky to have ridden so many wonderful horses, and for so many incredible trainers and owners.
“It was particularly important to me to finish on one for Philip and Sarah Hobbs who, like Henry Daly, have supported me for over 20 years. I’ll never be able to articulate what their loyalty has meant to me.
“There are so many people to thank who have been part of my journey. Without ‘the Duke’ and Dinah Nicholson and their remarkable staff, I’d never have got that first leg up. Noel Chance, Peter Bowen and Milton Bradley, thank you for putting your trust in me when I was starting out. Those were the days that shaped my career, with so many people who remain lifelong friends.
“The truth is there are simply too many people to thank on an individual basis, but you know who you are and what you mean to me. To jockeys past and present who I’ve shared weighing room benches with up-and-down the country, to the valets who have looked after me, to the doctors who’ve patched me up and to the physios who’ve put me back together.
“Without Dave Roberts I’d have never ridden as many winners and without the help of physio Kate Davis in recent years I wouldn’t physically have been able to. I salute you all.”
Johnson’s final ride was on the Philip Hobbs-trained Brother Tedd in the 2m5f handicap chase, finishing third. He gave up his last ride.
RTE TO SHOW MORE IRISH RACING
1 April: RTÉ Sport and Horse Racing Ireland have announced a new broadcasting deal for live coverage of Irish horse racing for the next three years that will deliver a record number of free-to-air live racing days in Ireland.
Under the new deal, RTÉ will broadcast 31 days of live racing in 2021, rising to 32 live days in 2022 and in 2023.
RTÉ will continue to bring Irish audiences closer to all the action from the coveted Festivals at Fairyhouse, Punchestown, the Curragh, Galway and Leopardstown, while new to the RTÉ schedule will be the Ascot Trials Day from Naas in May, and a series of top-quality winter Sundays over the jumps.
2021’s action continues this Easter Sunday and Monday from 2.30pm with Racing from Fairyhouse, culminating in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National.
Group Head of Sport at RTÉ, Declan McBennett, said:
“Horse racing is an integral part of the RTÉ Sport offering, and we are delighted to extend our partnership with Horse Racing Ireland and the racecourses. The trainers and jockeys in particular have proven repeatedly that they are at the very forefront of their profession internationally, and we hope to see the very best of Irish equine talent over the next three years.”
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said:
“RTÉ has long been a wonderful partner for Irish racing and we are delighted to extend our relationship for a further three years. The increased coverage is very welcome and will enhance the telling of our great racing stories.”
RTE Fixtures 2021
- July 17 Curragh Juddmonte Irish Oaks
- July 26 – 29 Galway Festival
- September 11 – 12 Leopardstown Longines Irish Champions Weekend
- October 30 Down Royal
- November 14 Punchestown
- November 28 Fairyhouse Winter Festival
- December 5 Punchestown/Cork
- December 26 – 29 Leopardstown/Limerick Christmas Festivals
- *Navan fixture in November tbc
BHA ANNOUNCE STRONGER REGULATION OF SYNDICATE OWNERSHIP
30 March: The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced plans to strengthen the regulation of shared racehorse ownership following an industry-wide consultation completed in the autumn of 2020.
The consultation, which formed part of one of the nine key goals for British racing’s recovery plan, examined the current risks and opportunities of shared ownership and how they might be addressed through enhanced regulation and improved administration.
The industry plan for shared ownership, which has been developed through consideration of the consultation feedback and further engagement with stakeholders, details 10 key measures to be introduced as part of a phased implementation plan over the next 12 months.
The measures are designed to support public confidence in Syndicates and Racing Clubs and provide a solid foundation for the continued growth of shared ownership.
Key measures within the plans include strengthening the existing Code of Conduct for Syndicates, which was originally introduced in February 2017. The Code requires that all Syndicates which advertise publicly or charge a management fee must provide Syndicate members with a contract that covers specified areas.
These areas will be extended in addition to the BHA increasing its auditing of these contracts. As part of the registration process, and then through on-going spot-checks, the BHA will annually review a proportion of contracts to ensure and monitor compliance with the Code. A Code of Conduct will also be introduced for Racing Clubs.
The BHA will also require that Syndicators disclose the percentage shares held by each member of the Syndicate. Syndicate members will be able to view their own recorded shareholdings because of being given access to the BHA’s Racing Administration system from early 2022.
The plans also build on the existing regulation of shared ownerships which already includes the registration of all individuals who wish to manage, promote or administer a Syndicate or Racing Club. Further information will be sought as part of the registration process to better understand the financial arrangements of each entity and, in the case of a Syndicate receiving a significant amount of prize-money, Syndicators will be asked to outline how and when this will be paid to Syndicate members.
Plans will be developed and tested with Syndicators and Club Managers, which will help ensure the processes and systems that support implementation of the measures are effective, facilitate BHA regulation and simplify ownership administration.
Throughout implementation, each phase will be communicated in advance to all stakeholders with clear lead in times, in addition to help and support for Syndicators and Club Managers in understanding and adapting to the changes.
OFF-COURSE PRICES TO DOMINATE RETURNING OF SPs
30 March: The Starting Price will in future be determined using mainly off-course prices, the Starting Price Regulatory Commission (SPRC) has decided. The SPRC has been considering this change for a number of years, balancing the need to reflect the betting market as a whole with the advantages of evolutionary change.
Having constituted a much higher share of the horse race betting market when last examined in 2015, Gambling Commission statistics show that the share of betting taken on-course had fallen to 1.4% in the year to end March 2020. As a result, the case for using off-course prices is correspondingly stronger.
Coronavirus has meant that an SP based solely on off-course prices has been operated since racing went behind closed doors in June 2020. The SPRC has now examined the workings of that mechanism in practice. Its detailed findings are set out in the paper that can be downloaded below.
Concerns have been expressed that the off-course based system would increase bookmakers’ margins at the expense of punters. However, this has proved not to be the case. The measure of margins is the overround – the higher the overround the higher bookmakers’ theoretical margins. Far from increasing under the new system, overround per race has been lower in every month of the six months examined by the SPRC.
Announcing the change, Lord Donoughue said: “The SPRC has considered this change long and hard. We are now confident that the modernised SP system better reflects the market as a whole. Punters can continue to have total confidence in the SP.”