TRC’s weekly industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
Dettori moves on
Middle East: Frankie Dettori is no longer the retained jockey of Al Shaqab Racing in Britain.
The purportedly amicable parting had been speculated after Dettori – who won the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes on Al Shaqab's Galileo Gold two years ago – did not ride a single horse for Sheikh Joaan’s racing organisation at the 2018 Royal Ascot meeting.
The fifth highest-ranked jockey in the world paid tribute to the role Al Shaqab Racing played in “rejuvenating” his career. The Italian added he wanted to prioritise his commitment to leading Newmarket handler John Gosden.
The announcement is a further blow to the embattled organisation, which reportedly owed several trainers in excess of £1 million in unpaid fees and lost the services of the highly respected Harry Herbert as its racing manager earlier in the year.
The bills were settled, of course, but Dettori's six-figure retainer was believed to have been reduced significantly in line with a downsizing of Sheikh Joaan's racing interests in Britain, where he now has 60 horses in training, compared to 90 in 2017.
Alison Begley, who replaced Herbert, said: “Frankie's contract always went from July to July. Frankie obviously wants to ride for John Gosden, but he has said to us that he very much appreciates what the sheikh has done for him and, if we have high-profile horses running, Frankie will be there to ride them.”
Although Dettori informed Sheikh Joaan of his decision personally he declared that he “would be more than happy to ride for him for nothing” in the future.
Mott takes his punishment
North America: Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has surrendered his battle with the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) over a historic failed positive drug test.
The 64-year old will serve a one-week suspension - reduced from 15 days - for the finding of the therapeutic medication Flunixin in the horse Saratoga Snacks on September 20, 2014. He will, in addition, pay the NYSGC a $1,000 fine.
Mott also had also been cited for Saratoga Snacks having an overage of Lasix in his system. However, it was ordered that he was no longer accountable for the unusually high amount of Lasix, which is always administered by a third party in New York, in this case a veterinarian employed by the New York Racing Association (NYRA).
“I signed forms that said it was my right to have a split sample, but, when it came right down to it, they didn’t give it to us because there was none available,” said Mott. “When we questioned it, they said ‘Well, we said it’s your right, but it’s really not your right.’ That was what this whole thing was about.”
Mott will be eligible to return to training July 12. During his suspension, horses from his barn are running in assistant trainer Leana Willaford’s name.
First there was Gronkowski, now it’s Lebron J
North America: Phoenix Thoroughbreds have again named their latest acquisition after a star U.S. athlete. The syndicate, whose Gronkowski was named for New England Patriots football star Rob Gronkowski, has called its $1.2 million juvenile Lebron J in honour of basketball star Lebron James.
The 2-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro - the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales-topper in May - was selected by Dennis O'Neill and sent to trainer Doug O’Neill's barn in California.
Gronkowski, who came second in the Belmont Stakes this year, gained further media attention when his namesake bought a share in the colt and attended the U.S. classic. James is, however, yet to comment on O'Neill's exciting prospect.
Phoenix Thoroughbreds has also acquired the Robert Cowell-trained Pocket Dynamo, who was runner-up in the 2018 G2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. It is believed that the colt will be aimed the new Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
New Shadwell sponsorship
Europe: This year’s renewal of the G3 Dick Poole Stakes at Salisbury will be sponsored by Shadwell.
As well as lending its name to the six-furlong contest for 2-year-old fillies, the stud will help increase total prize money to £46,500 – up £4,000 on last year.
Richard Lancaster, Shadwell’s stud director, said: “Shadwell already sponsors the apprentice series at Salisbury, which has been a huge success, so we’re delighted to be associated with this year’s Dick Poole Stakes.
“It has been won by several high-class fillies, none more so than last year’s winner Anna Nerium. It is also a race Sheikh Hamdan has had success in with the likes of Tashawak and Nidhaal, and more recently Sajwah.”
Bonus on offer for progeny of The Mission
Oceania: Aquis Farm has put a A$1,000,000 million bonus for the progeny of freshman stallion The Mission, conceived this spring, to win a G1 2-year-old race or the Magic Millions Classic.
The Mission, who last year won the G1 Champagne Stakes at Randwick, has been retired to stud at Aquis’ Canungra Stud in Queensland for a fee of A$13,200. Aquis will also donate ten per cent of all bonus payouts to industry-related charities.
BHA’s diversity action plan
Europe: The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has launched British racing’s first ever Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan in a bid to improve representation across all aspects of the sport.
The action plan will be published by the newly formed Diversity in Racing Steering Group (DiRSG), which will strive to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of British racing, as well as establishing short- and long-term ambitions with a key focus on the next generation and attracting new audiences.
The organisation also revealed a new head of diversity and inclusion role, who will provide industry leadership and drive forward delivery of the action plan.
The plan covers eight core areas, which the BHA believes can – and should – be addressed to promote greater inclusion in British racing:
- Understanding the British racing landscape
- Role models, leaders and careers
- Recognising and celebrating British racing’s workforce
- Supporting and promoting opportunities for female jockeys
- Promoting racehorse ownership
- Attending, consuming and enjoying racing
- Showcasing the horse and understanding the sport
Nick Rust, BHA chief executive and DiRSG chair, said: “We have a collective responsibility to ensure the sport is as diverse and inclusive as possible, and this plan seeks to ensure we have a focused approach to making that happen in the months and years ahead.”
Darley step up
Europe: Darley are once again sponsoring Darley Prix Morny day, which takes place on August 19 in the middle of the Deauvile meeting, which runs from July 28 to August 29 at the Hippodrome de Deauville-la Touques.
As well as the headline race, the G1 Prix Morny, Sheik Mohammed’s breeding operation will be the race sponsor of the G1 Prix Jean Romanet, the G2 Prix Robert Papin and the G3 Prix de Cabourg. The meeting coincides with Deauville’s yearling Sales.
Darley, which is a major partner of France Galop, has created the Darley Series for 2-year olds, culminating with the Prix Morny.
McDonald to take the helm
Europe: PJ McDonald has been elected by the Board of the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) and is scheduled be the next Flat President of the organisation.
He succeeds Steve Drowne, who announced his retirement earlier this year. McDonald joined the PJA Board in 2010 and has been the PJA’s Northern Flat Safety Officer since then.
“I feel privileged to have been asked to stand as PJA Flat President and look forward to assisting them and my colleagues under both codes with current and future issues within the industry,” said McDonald.
Paul Struthers, PJA chief executive, had “no doubt he’ll do a fantastic job”, while William Derby, York Racecourse chief executive and clerk of the course, praised the 36-year old’s “advice and guidance in designing and delivering the new jockeys’ facilities at York in 2014.”