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

Pimlico racecourse, home of the £1.5m Preakness Stakes since 1873, but now in desperate need of modernisation

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


$424m: is that the price of keeping the Preakness at Pimlico?

North America: The story of the Preakness Stakes, second leg of the U.S. Triple Crown, took a new turn on Thursday with the publication of the findings of a study by the Maryland Stadium Authority, which is proposing a massive $424 redevelopment plan for Pimlico Racecourse, traditional home of the historic race.

The proposal is for the aging Baltimore track to be demolished and rebuilt, with some provision for housing and commercial development, although there is no suggestion as to how the work would be paid for. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh told the Baltimore Sun, “We know this is going to require public-private partnerships, including the state.”

Pimlico is owned by the Stronach Group, but they also own Laurel Park, south of Baltimore, for which they have big plans, having spent millions upgrading it in recent times. The group have indicated would be prepared to move the Preakness to Laurel if funds to improve Pimlico could not be found from other sources.

Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of the Stronach Group, said in a statement, “The final conclusions of the MSA report are in line with our assessment that in order to bring the facility up to par, it will require several hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The Stronach Group is investing heavily in racing and we are committed to the long-term sustainability of the Thoroughbred racing industry and to the communities in which we operate in Maryland.

“The MSA study began three years ago and from the outset we have expressed the need to address Pimlico, and by extension the Preakness Stakes, within the context of the broader racing ecosystem. A successful and viable future for Maryland racing requires an industry-encompassing and thoughtful capital plan that looks beyond one weekend of celebration to achieving great success year-round. We reiterate the need for action.

“We ask state and local leaders, working together with all segments of the racing industry, to tackle during the upcoming legislative session the important questions surrounding not only the financial requirements for a modern stadium that can host the Preakness Stakes but how to best support the needs of the Thoroughbred industry as a whole, sustainable year-round horse racing and training, an enhanced guest experience and greater fan engagement in Maryland.”

‘World’s best’ Dettori hails ‘genius’ Gosden

Asia: World #3 Frankie Dettori has been crowned the 2018 Longines World’s Best Jockey for the second time in his career during a gala dinner in Hong Kong.

The three-time British champion topped the standings on the back of another hugely-successful year, which saw him win eight of the IFHA’s top 100 international G1 races, which included the Investec Coronation Cup and Qipco British Champion Stakes on Cracksman; the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf on Enable; and Royal Ascot successes on Without Parole in the St James’s Palace Stakes and Stradivarius in the Gold Cup.

Dettori credited the owners and their horses as contributing factors to his “phenomenal season”, but the 47-year old said that what he has achieved this year is “really down to” John Gosden, who the Italian described as a “genius of a trainer”.

“I will try and win every big race [in 2019] and try and become the best jockey in the world again,” he added.

Guess who will be training To Darn Hot’s brother

Europe: Qatar Racing has confirmed that its recently acquired 3.5 million-guinea Dubawi colt will be trained by world #5 John Gosden.  

The highly-anticipated colt will be sent to the reigning British champion trainer’s Clarehaven Stables after being broken at Longholes in Newmarket.

Gosden trained the as-yet-unnamed-colt’s dam, Dar Re Mi, to win three G1s, as wells as his full-sister Lah Ti Dar to finish runner-up in the St Leger and full-brother Too Darn Hot, who is the current favourite for next year’s Qipco 2000 Guineas following his brilliant victory in this year’s G1 Dewhurst Stakes at the Rowley Mile.

Tipping ban confirmed for jockey agents

Oceania: Racing NSW has announced a new rule that will see jockey agents banned from tipping and betting on races involving their clients.

The new regulation was proposed in April, and confirmation of the legislation was officially announced by the Australian operator on Monday ahead of its implementation in 2019.

The new rule does, however, allow an agent to be exempt from the rule provided they ‘seek written approval from Racing NSW’. The ban could have severe implications for a number of agents who work across media outlets providing tips or for those with subscription-based tipping services.

Newmarket tour operator in ownership drive

Europe: Discover Newmarket, the organisation that operates tours around the town that is British racing’s ‘headquarters’, has partnered with syndicate organisers Highclere Thoroughbred Racing in a bid to attract new owners.

Harry Herbert, chairman and managing director of Highclere, said everyone at Berkshire operation is “very much looking forward” to the tie-up that he hopes will “encourage new owners into the sport”.

Highclere currently employs seven Newmarket-based trainers: John Gosden, Sir Michael Stoute, Hugo Palmer, Roger Varian, Michael Bell, William Haggas and Simon Crisford.

Shortlist out for Godolphin staff awards  

Europe: The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has released the shortlisted nominees for the 2019 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, which will be presented in London on February 18.

Brough Scott, chair of the judging panel, said, “For we judges here comes the best and worst task of the year. It’s been bad enough getting each category down to a shortlist of ten from a total of 202 high-quality nominations.

“Now we have to whittle each group down to just three. All I can promise them is that we will do it with a respect and fairness which matches the admiration and appreciation we have for their efforts every day.”

Fresh initiative on stewarding

Europe: The BHA has announced details of a new consultation forum designed to shape the continuing progress and evolution of raceday stewarding in the UK.

The forum will act as a conduit between members of the regulator’s stewarding teams and its executive and board, giving feedback on the continuing implementation and development of the stewarding review.

The group will also assist in identifying areas for further improvement and development in relation to raceday stewarding and provide a means by which the BHA can conduct preliminary high-level consultation and obtain input in relation to proposed raceday regulatory initiatives.

Broadcaster and journalist Lydia Hislop will be facilitator of the forum in an independent capacity, with BHA chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea in the chair.

Bid to back new Golden Eagle race

Oceania: Online bookmaker Unibet has sent an official inquiry to Racing NSW about sponsoring next year’s A$7.5m Golden Eagle, the new 1500-metre race for 4-year-olds at Rosehill on November 2.

Original title sponsor TAB retracted its backing because it clashed with Derby Day in Melbourne, where the TAB has naming rights for a feature race on the Flemington card. Unibet’s proposal matched the TAB’s sponsorship agreement of $500,000, which will help contribute to the $7.5m in prize money for the race.

Betting group in major sponsorship initiative  

Europe: The Gibraltar-based sports betting group MansionBet will take over sponsorship of 38 British horseracing fixtures in 2018 and 2019, with MansionBet branding displayed across a number of ARC racecourses.

The partnership began at Sedgefield last Friday continues through 2019 at Ffos Las, Hereford, Southwell, Great Yarmouth and Worcester racecourses.

In addition, MansionBet racedays will feature across Jockey Club Racecourses East Region tracks Nottingham, Huntingdon and Market Rasen.

The operator will also take the title sponsorship of Newbury’s Spring Cup, which will be broadcast live on ITV in 2019 and is part of Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials weekend.

Amy Starkey, regional director of Jockey Club Racecourses – East Region, said: “I am thrilled to welcome MansionBet as a sponsor for the East Region of the Jockey Club.

“The popularity of the sport in the East continues to grow, and we are pleased that MansionBet will be joining us on this journey. We look forward to working together for fixtures at Huntingdon, Nottingham and Market Rasen over the coming months.”

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