What’s been happening in the racing industry around the world

Terrible loss: Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (centre) pictured at Goodwood racecourse earlier this season. Photo: Chichester Observer

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


Racing mourns Leicester boss after helicopter tragedy

Europe: Leading UK-based owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha died on Saturday after his helicopter crashed moments after taking off from the King Power Stadium, the home ground of his top-flight English football side Leicester City. All five people aboard were killed.

He was ranked the fifth richest man in Thailand by Forbes as a result of his work with King Power and was said to be worth $5.2 billion. The 60-year old bought Leicester in 2010 for £39 million, cleared their debts, before famously winning the Premier League title in 2015-16 at odds of 5,000-1. He also owned a successful polo team named for his business.

Vichai had in the past two years become a big-spending emerging force at European Thoroughbred sales and his racing string was beginning to blossom (many horses carried the Fox prefix in their names in reference to Leicester’s nickname).

King Power has had 246 runners in Britain this year, which have resulted in 41 winners, with the vast majority being trained Andrew Balding, saddling 28 winners from 159 British runners, while Richard Hannon and Ralph Beckett were among others employed.

Renowned as philanthropic gentleman, donating millions to a hospital in Leicester and the local community, Vichai was believed to made generous investments to improve facilities at the city’s racecourse.

Last day thrills at Keeneland

North America: Keeneland successfully concluded its 2018 Fall Meet on Saturday with record all-sources wagering of more than $144 million. The leading performers championships were decided on the final day of competition.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey won their 21st leading owner title with six wins, comfortably beating joint second place owners G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and Susan and Jim Hill by three.

Following an opening-day hat-trick, seven-time Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher closed the meet with nine wins to claim his fifth leading trainer title at Keeneland.

Riding in his first full meet at Keeneland, Eclipse Award-winning jockey Tyler Gaffalione recorded 15 successes to earn leading rider honours.

Pool-betting breakthrough

Europe: Market rivals Britbet, the pool-betting project put together by 55 of Britain's racecourses, and the Tote consortium made up of Betfred and partners Alizeti, have put pen to paper for a seven-year £50 million pool-betting deal in the UK.

Under the terms of the agreement the familiar the Tote name will be maintained on Britbet’s 55 partner tracks, which include those under the Arena Racing Company (Arc) and Jockey Club banners, along with the likes of Goodwood, Newbury and York. However, the Britbet brand will effectively be retired without ever accepting a bet.

The Tote’s owners will take responsibility for the brand’s digital output and growth, as well as looking after the betting shops and marketing of the brand.

Ascot launched its own pool betting operation, AscotBet, in partnership with the Tote in July and will be included in the single pool as well, as will Chelmsford.

Alex Frost, chief executive of Alizeti, said all the stakeholders realised the Tote is “committed to being part of helping secure British racing’s finances for generations”, adding that the deal is another “very important step forward” to ensuring that British racing “now has a united approach to pool betting”.

Chad and Irad lead the way - again

North America: World #4 trainer Chad Brown and world #14 jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr both won their third consecutive titles for the 35-day Belmont Park Fall Championship Meet, while Klaravich Stables was the meet’s leading owner.

With 38 winners Brown, NYRA’s leading trainer for the last three years, finished with double the number of winners of closest competitor Gary Contessa. His starters finished in the money more than 60 per cent of the time, with earnings of more than $3.8 million.

“It’s great for our team. Everyone’s worked really hard and we had a lot of talented horses run well and everyone executed their jobs extremely well,” Brown said.

Three of Brown's seven Graded wins at the meet came with Ortiz, Jr in the saddle. The Puerto Rican registered 44 wins in total from in 215 starts, earning $3.4 million. Brown credited Ortiz with “another strong meet” and warned rivals that the “smart and talented” 26-year old “continues to get better”.

Bee Jersey off to Darby Dan

North America: 4-year old miler Bee Jersey has been retired and will stand at Darby Dan Farm for the upcoming breeding season for $5,000.

The Charles Fipke homebred began his racing career in Dubai but registered the biggest win of his career at the G1 Metropolitan Handicap in June. Trained in the U.S. by Steve Asmussen, Bee Jersey concludes his racing career with five wins from ten starts and is a near-millionaire earner of $976,293.

Ryan Norton, stallion director at Darby Dan, highlighted Bee Jersey’s “raw speed” when putting together back-to-back winning performances in the Steve Sexton Mile and the Metropolitan Handicap.

TV boost for Churchill Downs

North America: The entire Churchill Downs 21-day fall meet will be televised live by dedicated horse and greyhound racing channel TVG.

In addition to regular coverage, TVG will carry the first two Breeders’ Cup races - the Filly & Mare Sprint and the Turf Sprint tomorrow.

“Churchill Downs’ fall meet consistently offers some of the very best racing in the U.S. and we are very excited to showcase this meet for racing fans across the country,” said Kip Levin, chief executive of TVG.

Trial for new entry process

Europe: The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that a trial of a new transparent entry and declaration process will take place at all-weather fixtures after approval from the BHA Racing Group and the sport’s Executive Committee.

The new trial is designed to investigate whether making the current entry and declaration process fully transparent and removing the re-opening and re-offering of races can bring about improvements in efficiency.

The current system does not provide any visibility to trainers of which other horses are entering or declaring until after the stage has closed. At the entry stage five percent of races are re-opened and, at the declaration stage, 31 percent are re-offered.

War Dancer on the move

North America: War Dancer will stand for the 2019 season as part of the Irish Hill & Dutchess Views Stallions roster at Irish Hill Century Farm.

The millionaire son of world #22 sire War Front won or was placed in nine Graded stakes, including the $500,000 Virginia Derby, and will stand for $7,500 at his new home in Saratoga.

War Dancer covered 200 mares in his first two years at Sugar Plum Farm in Saratoga Springs, of which 100 were stakes performers.

Michael Lischin runs the facility, which currently stands seven stallions, including four of the leading stallions in New York, and he thinks War Dancer “checks all the boxes for breeders looking to get their mare to a top son of War Front”.

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