Seven Days in Racing: industry news from around the world

Not Poundland Hill anymore: the famous free enclosure at Epsom Downs on Derby Day. Photo: Surrey Advertiser

TRC’s weekly industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.

Royal Ascot's Norfolk Stakes now a Breeders’ Cup qualifier

Europe: The Breeders’ Cup and Ascot Racecourse have confirmed that the winners of Royal Ascot’s G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes, G1 Queen Anne Stakes, G2 Norfolk Stakes (for 2-year-olds) and G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes will be awarded automatic ‘Win and You’re In’ berths into this year’s World Championships at Churchill Downs.

The Prince of Wales will be a qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, the Queen Anne for the Mile, the Diamond Jubilee for the Turf Sprint and the Norfolk for the new Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, which will be run at 5½ furlongs.

The continuing international expansion of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series now stands at 80 Graded/Group stakes races.

Nick Smith, Ascot’s director of racing and communications, said he was delighted that the Berkshire course would be taking part in the initiative, which he believed would “provide an excellent new opportunity for European juveniles”.

New Zealand calls on Messara’s expertise 

Oceania: Leading Australian breeder John Messara is to review the New Zealand racing industry’s governance structures and provide recommendations on future directions for the industry. 

“Racing is a significant industry creating $1.6 billion to GDP annually, it employs up to 50,000 people and has many passionate supporters,” New Zealand Racing Minister Winston Peters said. “However, it is vital an assessment is conducted on whether the industry is meeting its full financial potential and whether its governance arrangements are top heavy. 

“For this reason, it is pleasing Mr Messara has agreed to conduct a strategic review to provide advice to the Government. Mr Messara is considered one of Australia’s most successful racing administrators. As chair of both Racing New South Wales and Racing Australia, he led reforms to increase and secure long-term revenue. 

“His review will also assist the government in determining if the current Racing Act 2003 and the proposed Racing Amendment Bill are fit for purpose.” 

Messara, boss of Arrowfield Stud, will start the review later this month and produce a report by mid-year.

Poundland an Epsom non-runner

Europe: Epsom Downs racecourse has concluded it commercial partnership with British high street retailer Poundland.

Only last year the Jockey Club-owned track rebranded its ‘hill’ area – a free enclosure in the heart of the course - for the budget supermarket. But, due to widely reported financial issues concerning Poundland’s parent company, Steinhoff International, the commercial arm of British racing has ended the agreement.

New Canadian Hall of Famers

North America: The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame has announced the people and horses being recognized as inductees in 2018. Six people and four horses have been elected.

Representing Thoroughbreds are builder John G. Sikura, the Canadian-born owner and president of Hill’n’Dale Farms, trainer Reade Baker, and communicator Dan Loiselle, as well as horses Judy The Beauty, and Shaman Ghost.

Major schedule change for Oaklawn

North America: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming has announced that racing will start later than usual in 2019, the most significant change to its racing schedule since World War Two.

The track will open on January 25 and run through May 4, which is three weeks after its traditional season-ending $1 million G1 Arkansas Derby (this year’s edition of which takes place on Saturday).

Louis Cella, president at Oaklawn, remarked that the reason for the “sea-change in our scheduling” was fundamentally down to finding the “most favourable weather conditions” for racing. In the past decade, under the previous schedule, 14 race days in January have been cancelled because of inclement weather, including twice this year.

Reserve a parking space for the Kentucky Derby

North America: Churchill Downs has announced a new parking and traffic plan for Kentucky Derby Week. For the first time, racegoers will be able to reserve onsite parking spots through the track’s newly launched or the Churchill Downs and Waze mobile apps.

Stronach Group’s new Florida track overseer

North America: John Jamison, a second generation horseman with 40 years’ experience in track maintenance, has been named general superintendent of the Stronach Group’s track surfaces in Florida.

He will oversee the main tracks at Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West and Palm Meadows. He has been the track superintendent at Palm Meadows since September.

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