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
- Jan 28 Gowran Park
- Feb 6 – 7 Leopardstown Dublin Racing Festival
- April 4 – 5 Fairyhouse Easter Festival
- April 27 – May 1 Punchestown Festival
- May 16 Naas Royal Ascot Trials Day
- May 22 – 23 Curragh Tattersalls Irish 2000 and 1000 Guineas
- June 26 – 27 Curragh Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes
- 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
CAZOO BECOME HEADLINE SPONSORS OF THE DERBY
1 Apri, Cazoo, an online car retailer and one Britain’s fastest growing digital businesses, has become the main sponsor of The Derby Festival under a new partnership agreement with The Jockey Club, which runs Epsom Downs Racecourse.
The multi-year partnership includes naming rights, significant brand exposure and exclusive naming of eight races during the Cazoo Derby Festival which will take place on 4 and 5 June.
All races will be shown live on ITV and in addition to the multiple naming and branding rights during the two days of the new Cazoo Derby Festival, the partnership also provides Cazoo with year-round exposure and branding rights across all the Jockey Club’s other 15 main racecourses across the UK.
Alex Chesterman OBE, Founder and CEO of Cazoo said, “We’re delighted to be sponsoring The Cazoo Derby Festival, one of the biggest events in horseracing. As the second biggest spectator sport in Britain, we look forward to engaging with racing fans around the country through this extensive partnership with the Jockey Club and to delivering the best car buying experience to horseracing fans across the country.”
Nevin Truesdale, Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, said: “Cazoo is a highly ambitious and successful growth brand that matches our ambitions for the future of the world’s most famous Flat race. You cannot overstate the importance of The Cazoo Derby to our sport globally and it’s vital we work with a partner passionate about bringing that to life in the years ahead. I’m delighted to welcome the Cazoo team to The Jockey Club and horseracing as a sport.”
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.
CHANGES ANNOUNCED FOR IRISH FIXTURES IN MAY
30 March: Horse Racing Ireland has announced the following fixture list alterations for May, in order to accommodate the Racing Industry participants while there are no racegoers permitted to attend and to assist racecourses in maximising streaming rights income, as listed below:
- Downpatrick – Friday, May 7 (evening) – now becomes an afternoon meeting
- Roscommon – Monday, May 10 (evening) – transferred to Tuesday, May 11 (afternoon)
- Leopardstown – Friday, May 14 (evening) – now becomes an afternoon meeting
- Wexford – Saturday, May 15 (afternoon) – transferred to Sunday, May 16 (afternoon)
- Sligo – Tuesday, May 18 (evening) – now becomes an afternoon meeting
- Cork – Wednesday, May 19 (evening) – now becomes an afternoon meeting
- Tipperary – Thursday, May 20 (evening) – now becomes an afternoon meeting
- Downpatrick – Friday, May 21 (evening) – now becomes an afternoon meeting
- Fairyhouse – Friday, May 28 (evening) – now becomes an afternoon meeting
- Navan – Saturday, May 29 (afternoon) – transferred to Sunday, May 30 (afternoon)
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.”