The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
City-centre trial races get the thumbs up
Europe: A plan to stage horse racing in city centres moved a step closer after three trial races were staged successfully in Liverpool on Wednesday.
The half-speed trials, each with eight runners over 3½ furlongs, took place on a mobile sand-based all-weather surface laid 16 hours earlier on part of an old motor racing circuit at Aintree racecourse.
Jockey Sean Levey, who took part, said: “The surface rides unbelievably well. It was like Newcastle when it was first laid down. It’s a great idea. It’s all about widening the audience and bringing racing to the people.”
The project is by City Racing, which is run by Peter Phillips, the Queen’s grandson, and it has the backing of the Jockey Club. The group, which stresses its commitment to horse welfare, said it hopes to have its first two cities on board to stage races next year.
Huge fee hike for Lord Kanaloa
Asia: Shadai Stallion Station has announced it 2019 roster, which is headed by world #6 sire Deep Impact and is supplemented by his exciting son Real Steel and the dual winner of the Dubai Golden Shaheen, Mind Your Biscuits.
Deep Impact will remain as the world’s most expensive advertised sire for a second season at a fee of ¥40 million ($350,000) next spring. The second-highest at Shadai is Lord Kanaloa, who at #30 in the TRC Global Rankings is the world’s leading second-season sire. Lord Kanaloa’s fee almost doubles from ¥8 million to ¥15 million ($130,000) after his brilliant daughter Almond Eye landed this year’s Japanese Fillies’ Triple Crown and Sunday’s Japan Cup.
Real Steel, the 2016 Dubai Turf winner, and Mind Your Biscuits will be offered to breeders for ¥2 million ($17,000).
Storm over decision to close Maisons-Laffitte
Europe: France Galop has announced that Maisons-Laffitte will close at the end of 2019 season, but the decision has been widely criticised and a major challenge is expected.
A statement from the regulatory body read: “Although the training centre is designed to allow 1,500 horses to train there at any one time, it is home to fewer than 500 at the moment. The adjustment to its actual level of activity will lead to a significant reduction in operating costs.”
Maisons-Laffitte mayor Jacques Myard described the decision as “appalling” and vowed to fight it, with the backing of the town council, while locally-based trainer Gina Rarick said that it “has been neglected and underused because there’s been a politic against the place for so long”.
New Ascot chairman
Europe: Sir Francis Brooke has been named as the new chairman of Ascot Authority Limited. Brooke has been a trustee and director of AAHL since 2011. As chairman, he will be responsible for the management of Ascot Racecourse and will head the board.
He replaces Johnny Weatherby, who remains as Her Majesty's Representative at Ascot, a post to which he was appointed in 2011. Her Majesty's Representative is responsible for all matters relating to the Royal Family and the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot.
“I am delighted that Francis has taken on the role of chairman at Ascot and I look forward to continuing to support the board,” said Weatherby.
Wilkins back at Adena
North America: The Stronach Group’s Adena Springs has announced that Ken Wilkins will be returning to its Kentucky team as its stallion sales manager.
Wilkins brings to Adena Springs experience gained by working with some of the leading stallion operations in the U.S., but he admitted his “great respect” for the Stronach family and their “accomplishments in the industry” made his decision inevitable.
Drug testing increases in Britain
Europe: The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is now testing the first four finishers in all Group races on the flat and all Grade 1 jump races; previously just the winner was automatically tested, along with selected others.
It also confirmed that from next year samples will be screened for a number of new illegal substances such as cobalt.
Brant Dunshea, chief regulatory officer of the 25-strong investigatory team, which already occupies up to 60 percent of the regulator’s workforce and has a multi-million pound annual budget, revealed that changes had already been “quietly introduced” from September 1.
“We are committed to being seen to set an international standard and hope that by doing this it will become the international norm that the major racing jurisdictions will adopt,” said Dunshea.
North America: Fasig-Tipton has appointed Jesse Ullery as an account executive and sales announcer. The former Keeneland man will be actively involved in the recruitment of both sellers and buyers at all the Kentucky auction house’s sales as an account executive. Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning believes Ullery “will be a tremendous addition”.