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

Jeremy Irons, who will play Henry Cecil in the film of the Frankel story. Irons won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1990 for his role as Claus Von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune. Photo: John Lamparski/WireImage

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


Frankel the movie: Jeremy Irons to play Henry Cecil

Europe: Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons has been cast to play the late, great Sir Henry Cecil in an upcoming film adaptation of the career of Frankel. Irons also produces the film, which is expected to go into production in the spring and will be directed by Ron Scalpello from a screenplay by Jim Piddock.

Andrew Berg and John Sachs, of Eclipse Films, told screendaily.com: “A lot of people have tried to make this film but fell short of the mark. Jim’s script stands out as the perfect balance of drama and action and Ron is a gifted director, visceral, sensitive and extremely hard working and creative.

“Jeremy was first choice to play Henry and has a genuine love for horses.”

Longines clock in once more

North America: The Breeders' Cup has renewed its commercial partnership with Swiss watchmaker Longines, which has been the official timekeeper and official watch for racing’s world championships since 2014. 

As part of this new agreement, the luxury brand becomes the title partner of the newly named Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, the first time that Breeders’ Cup has placed a brand before its iconic race. It will remain as the title partner for the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf and the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff.

‘Some relief’ as Johnston edges past all-time record

Europe: Britain’s winningmost trainer, Mark Johnston, broke the record for the most winners on the flat in Britain in a calendar year when Bavardages became his 236th winner of 2019 with victory at Kempton on Monday.

“There was some relief, but I said I’d only have started panicking after Christmas,” said Scotsman, who is currently world #24 in the TRC Global Rankings. “The record shows our consistency in producing a high percentage of winners each year.”

The previous record was first set by Richard Hannon Snr in 2013 and matched by Richard Fahey two years later. The overall record (flat or jumps) is 243 by jumps trainer Martin Pipe in 1999-2000. 

F-T celebrating ‘outstanding’ sales week

North America: The Kentucky October Yearlings Sale has concluded a record-setting run. Over the course of four days, a benchmark number of horses were offered and sold for sale record highs in gross and average.

A colt by current world #2 dirt sire Candy Ride was the sale-topper, selling for $560,000.
“It was an outstanding week,” said Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning. “There was solid, consistent trade from beginning to end. It’s always exciting to have a horse break out like the Candy Ride did. It creates a good mood going into the Breeders' Cup.”

Overall, 1,008 yearlings sold for a record gross of $38,258,900, up 12 per cent from last year, when 963 yearlings sold for $34,260,100. The average – also a sale record – grew seven per cent to $37,955 from $35,576 in 2018. The median was $13,000.

The sale's most expensive filly came in the form of Hip 1090, a daughter of Runhappy, which sold for $400,000 during Wednesday’s session. Full results are available here.

Cruelty film: Racing Victoria to ‘fast-track’ welfare plans

Oceania: Racing Victoria, the governing body for horseracing in the Australian state, has announced a A$25 million commitment to equine welfare after a film of cruelty to terrified ex-racehorses was broadcast last week on ABC.

Racing Victoria chairman Brian Kruger said: “Victoria’s vision is to be a leader in equine welfare practices, and, while the industry has achieved many great outcomes over recent years and has a clear pathway for the future, it’s clear we need to step up and do more.

“The horses are the stars of our sport, and no one will argue that they must be treated as such. The events and stories of the past ten days have galvanised public and industry opinion and created an opportunity to fast-track initiatives already planned.

Fees rise for Candy Ride and Quality Road

North America: Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky has announced its 2020 stallion roster and fees, which includes new additions Catalina Cruiser and Game Winner, although the latter will remain with trainer Bob Baffert and target a spring campaign before joining Bill Farish’s ranks in 2021. 

Quality Road and Candy Ride, the third and second ranked dirt sires in the world respectively, will stand for increased fees. Quality Road, sire of 2019 G1 winners Dunbar Road, Roadster, Bellafina and City of Light, will stand for $200,000, up from $150,000. Candy Ride reaches six figures for the first time in his stud career, increasing to $100,000 from $80,000. 

Frankel’s brother Noble Mission, sire of Travers Stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic second favorite Code Of Honor in his first season at stud, goes from $15,000 to $20,000.

Optimism over restructured Arqana yearling sale

Europe: Arqana’s four-day October Yearling Sale concluded with a low-key final session, which came about after the French operation decided to alter the schedule to give each day a more coherent and individual identity.  

Despite the restructuring making session comparisons difficult, the total business for the week finished at €17.6 million, a decline of four per cent from 2018, while the clearance rate was also down by a similar amount at 74 per cent. Full results here

“The new format worked well and there was actually a small rise in the average price, though not enough to help out the clearance rate,” said director of business development Alix Choppin.

Elsewhere in racing …

North America: Spendthrift Farm has acquired an ownership interest in four-time Graded stakes-winning millionaire Mr Money, who makes his next start in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Saturday. More here

Europe: Four-time G1 winner Magical has been retired with immediate effect after a temperature prevented the Ballydoyle star travelling to the Breeders’ Cup. The daughter of Galileo will now begin her career as a broodmare and is set to be covered by leading sire No Nay Never. More here

Oceania: A total of 42 horses, including defending champion Cross Counter, have stood their ground after the third acceptances for the A$8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup were taken on Monday morning. To view the Melbourne Cup entries after the third acceptances stage, More here

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