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

The Conghua complex, where an inaugural exhibition race meet is being scheduled for March. Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

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


Conghua set for first race meet

Asia: The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) will host an inaugural exhibition meeting on March 23 at Conghua Racecourse, its new track and training centre on mainland China.     

The event will be staged in conjunction with the Conghua District Government and represents the first time the HKJC will run back-to-back race meets – there is also racing at Sha Tin on March 24 – as well as the issue of crossing the border into the mainland under race conditions.

Executive director of racing Andrew Harding confirmed that there will be a dry run on February 23 that “will simulate everything, down to the detail of trophy presentations”.

Harding also confirmed that, while most jockeys and trainers won’t travel to the mainland for next month’s barrier trials, March’s meeting will be a fully-fledged race day. “Form, records, premiership, performance criteria, in every aspect it’s a race meeting except for wagering.”

Chad tops the money list once more

North America: According to final statistics released by Equibase, TRC world #3 Chad Brown was the leading U.S. trainer by earnings for the second year in a row in 2018. Hronis Racing and Irad Ortiz Jr. finished the year as the leading owner and jockey.

Despite not saddling a classic winner in 2018, the two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer scored two Breeders’ Cup victories in 2018, with the impressive 2-year old daughter of Lope de Vega, Newspaperofrecord, taking most of the plaudits.

The American native accrued $27,546,057 over the year: tallying 224 winners from 839 starts and matching his previous season’s record of 47 Graded victories.

World #14 Ortiz - whose many successes this year have been aboard horses trained by Brown - was first past the post 346 times from his 1,616 mounts, ending the year with earnings of $27,727,039. His brother and 2017 winner, Jose (world-ranked 9), completed a family hegemony in the jockey classifications, finishing second with 264 wins from 1,513 mounts and earnings of $26,801,159.

Hronis Racing LLC, which owns Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Accelerate and sits 18th in the TRC Global Rankings, had 41 winners from 259 starts and earned $7,344,810.

Over to Jeannine

North America: Jeannine Edwards will once again host the annual Eclipse Awards, having emceed the ceremony on six previous occasions. She was part of broadcast teams that won in 2009 and 2010.

The 48th iteration of the gala awards ceremony will be held on January 24 at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

“I’m delighted to have been asked to host the Eclipse Awards once again,” said Edwards. “It’s a privilege to be a part of racing’s championship night, and I look forward to the opportunity to connect with old friends and honor all those who made horse racing exceptional in 2018.”

Leading owners appear to boycott Cheltenham

Europe: Leading owners Paul and Clare Rooney are reportedly refusing to allow their horses to run at Cheltenham, the home of British jump racing and the venue for its annual four-day festival in March.

The reason for the Rooneys’ apparent boycott of the Gloucestershire course stems from their belief that the track presents a higher threat of injury – and fatalities. Their Melrose Boy was euthanised as a result of injuries sustained at the 2018 festival and their leading chaser, Starchitect, was fatally injured in the 2017 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

The couple have had only two representatives at Cheltenham this season from nearly 150 runners – none since the first day of the November meeting.

Starchitect’s trainer, David Pipe, said of the decision, “The Rooneys were deeply upset and had their own views about Cheltenham, and that’s their absolute prerogative as they buy the horses and pay the bills.”

Officials at Cheltenham are yet to speak to the Rooneys and would not comment on the matter until they had.

Bill Elsey dies at 97

Europe: British racing is mourning the death of dual classic-winning trainer Bill Elsey at the age of 97. He was survived by six children, six grandchildren and his second wife, Susie.

The Yorkshire trainer took over the licence at Highfield Stables in Malton in 1961 from his father Charles, a six-time classic winner and 1956 British champion trainer himself.

Elsey enjoyed many G1 successes before his retirement in 1996, with a first classic coming in the 1967 Oaks with Pia before Peleid’s victory in the St Leger six years later.

South Australian ‘turmoil’

Oceania: Leading South Australian trainer Lloyd Kennewell is to close his Adelaide stable and move all his horses to Melbourne in light of prize money cuts in the state.

Last month, Thoroughbred Racing South Australia (TRSA) announced major reductions in funding and prize money, believed to be $5.25 million, which has resulted in the state becoming the only jurisdiction not to have a A$1 million race. The TRSA is citing the state government’s failure to return money from the new Point Of Consumption tax to the racing industry.

Kennewell opened a stable at Caulfield last year and had planned to maintain a presence at Morphettville. However, the Australian handler said that “with a heavy heart” he would concentrate solely on his Victorian operation from the end of January.

“We are already well below the prize money levels compared to the eastern states, and our costs are not much different, which really hurts the industry,” bemoaned Kennewell. “It is very sad to see this happen in such a historic state of racing and there is no doubt the future of racing in the state is in turmoil.”

Morning Line to New Mexico

North America: Leading second-crop sire Morning Line has been sold by Lane’s Ends and will stand the 2019 breeding season at Fred Alexander’s A & A Ranch in Anthony, New Mexico.

Bred by Dell Ridge Farm out of the A.P. Indy mare Indian Snow, Morning Line was a $700,000 yearling bought by Legends Racing out of the Lane's End consignment at the 2008 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

He won the 2011 G1 Carter Handicap, the 2010 G2 Pennsylvania Derby and the 2012 G1 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap, as well as coming second in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. A & A Ranch revealed that he will stand for a for an initial price of $3,500.

Frankel brother joins NH sire ranks

Europe: Proconsul, a 6-year-old son of world #2 sire Galileo and full brother to world #5 Frankel, will relocate to Annshoon Stud in County Kilkenny, Ireland, for his third season as a stallion. He will be offered at a €1,250 fee, with a free return for filly foals.

The son of Kind was far less successful on-track than his illustrious sibling, only running twice without placing for world #11 trainer Andre Fabre. However, due to his exceptional pedigree – he is a full brother to Bullet Train, Morpheus and Noble Mission to boot – he was sent to Mickley Stud in Shropshire.  

Michael Shefflin confirmed that although blue-blood had “covered flat mares in his first two seasons” the plan will be “to target the National Hunt market with him”.

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