The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
Royal Ascot to stage two £1 million races next year
Europe: Royal Ascot will be run for a record £8,095,000 prize money in 2020, an increase of £765,000 on 2019. For the first time, it will stage two £1 million races: the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, which were respectively run for a prize-pot of £750,000 and £600,000 in 2019.
Furthermore, no race at Royal Ascot will be run for less than £95,000 in 2020 (£90,000 in 2019) and in total 16 of the 30 races have been the subject of increases. Total prize money at Ascot next year, excluding the industry owned Qipco British Champions Day, will be £14.4 million, an increase of £819,000 (executive contribution 2020: £8.1 million, 2019: £7.4 million).
Guy Henderson, chief executive of Ascot Racecourse, said that the Prince of Wales’s and Diamond Jubilee have “been selected first as being likely to produce increased income from overseas betting and associated media/data rights”.
Hollendorfer leaving California
North America: Jerry Hollendorfer plans to relocate his stable in January from California to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, where he plans to have around 25 horses.
The Hall of Fame trainer is currently banned from racing at any tracks owned by The Stronach Group (TSG). The only Thoroughbred tracks operating in California until June are TSG’s Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita.
“I’m being forced to run at Oaklawn because I’m not up in California,” he told the Daily Racing Form. “I’d like to be able to run in California. We’re taking everything [to Oaklawn].”
Varma taking charge of the Grand National
Europe: Jockey Club Racecourses has appointed Sulekha Varma as its new north-west head of racing, as well as the new clerk of the course at Aintree. As a result, she will be the first woman to be in charge of the Randox Health Grand National, the world’s most famous steeplechase.
The 34-year old joins after three award-winning years at Hamilton Park near Glasgow, where she was racing manager and clerk of the course. She succeeds Andrew Tulloch, who stands down after nearly a quarter of a century in the Aintree role.
Varma will be responsible for all aspects of racing at Aintree and will also oversee the operation of the Aintree International Equestrian Centre. She will also be joint clerk of the course at sister-track Carlisle
Weir under fresh suspicion
Oceania: Disgraced former horse trainer Darren Weir’s decline and fall continues after his betting accounts - and those held by his associates – have been investigated by Victoria Police and racing authorities. Activity between 2001 to 2019 is being inspected, with 80 races in particular under scrutiny.
The Australian’s average bet size through his own account was AU$845, but it is alleged to be more than AU$1,800 through other accounts.
The Herald-Sun alleges Weir used a bowler - accounts in which the named holder places bets for other people - to place AU$9,200 on Peaceful State in last year’s Australian Guineas. The report suggests that his wagers were larger when horses wore blinkers, which the authorities suspect is “directly linked to the use of jiggers on horses wearing the headgear while exercising on treadmills.”
Chrome’s new stud fee
Asia: Arrow Stud in Japan has set its fees for its 2020 stallion roster, which now includes two-time U.S. Horse of the Year California Chrome, who will stand for an advertised fee at ¥4 million ($37,000).
Taylor Made Stallions’ sale of the 8-year-old son of Lucky Pulpit sale to JS Company of Japan was announced in late November. He will take up stud duties at Shizunai on Hokkaido Island alongside fellow U.S. import Shanghai Bobby, who begins his second year at Arrow Stud in 2020 and will again stand for ¥2 million.
Roger Barows, a son of Deep Impact also new at Arrow Stud for 2020, will stand for ¥1.2 million.
Asmussen standing firm over suspension
North America: The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has issued a 30-day suspension to world #8 trainer Steve Asmussen after urine samples from two of his trainees - Thousand Percent and Boldor – tested positive for Acepromazine, a sedative that can be used to calm horses on the racetrack.
The Hall of Famer will serve his suspension from December 20 through January 18.
However, Clark Brewster, an attorney representing Asmussen, said they plan to appeal the decision because Acepromazine was administered orally outside the 48-hour withdrawal period, which means that the “level of this metabolite in the blood was completely inert, had no possibility to impact any race or the horse itself" and that Asmussen “wants to make a stand and do the right thing and help others as well”.
Elsewhere in racing …
Europe: UK-based apprentice jockeys will have simplified and clearer deals in place with trainers from next year following unanimous approval from the BHA board. The new arrangements are designed to minimize the risk of creating unequal relationships and improve the financial situation for apprentices. More here
North America: Del Mar’s 13-day Bing Crosby Season has set a new standard for the track’s autumn meet with daily average handle climbing by 8.9 per cent to $11,291,574. More here
Europe: The shortlist for the 2020 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards has been announced. A total of 203 nominations were received, with the judging panel tasked with selecting a shortlist of ten candidates in each of the six categories. More here
North America: Capo Bastone will relocate to O'Sullivan Farms in Charles Town, West Virginia, for the 2020 breeding season, where he will stand for an advertised fee of $2,000. The 9-year-old son of Street Boss previously stood at Adena Springs.
Middle East: Dubai Racing Club has released the list of horses accepted for the ten-meeting 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival, which runs for nine consecutive Thursdays between January 2 and February 27 before Super Saturday on March 7 and the World Cup meting itself on March 28. More here
North America: Ocala Stud revealed that Uncaptured is relocating to South Korea. The 2010 son of Lion Heart and current world #181 dirt sire is currently the leading second-crop sire in Florida with 36 winners and progeny earnings of $1,978,703 this season.