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

Shamardal: The outstanding Darley sire has been put down because of health issues. Photo: Darley

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


Super stallion Shamardal is euthanized

Europe: Shamardal, the fourth-highest ranked sire in the world, has been euthanised at Kildangan Stud in Ireland because of health issues.

A dual champion as a racehorse, the Darley stallion had just had a truly outstanding season with his stars including European champiion juvenile Pinatubo, the highest-rated 2-year-old for a quarter of a century, as well as leading French juveniles Earthlight and Victor Ludorum and the magnificent Godolphin sprinter Blue Point, winner of two G1s at Royal Ascot in June.

Shamardal began 2019 ranked #52 in the TRC Global Rankings but had climbed back to #4 by the start of this year.

The son of Giant’s Causeway was champion 2-year-old himself. Trained then by Mark Johnston in Yorkshire, his victories included the G1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes. He took two Classics the following season after being transferred to Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Suroor, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and the Prix du Jockey Club, holding off a determined challenge from Hurricane Run, who would go on to win that year’s Arc.

Shamardal then won the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot before injury ended his racetrack career.

At stud, including spells shuttling to Australia, he has been responsible for 25 individual G1 winners. He is also establishing himself as a broodmare sire of the highest class, through Classic winners Awtaad and Latrobe, sprinter Hello Youmzain plus G1-winning juvenile filly Pretty Pollyanna.

Sam Bullard, Director of Stallions said, “Shamardal has been the mainstay of our Irish stallion roster for many years and will be sorely missed by the team at Kildangan.

“His record as a sire speaks for itself and we have enjoyed many great days on the racecourse courtesy of his sons and daughters. Led by the imperious Pinatubo, Shamardal’s juvenile crop of last year was truly outstanding siring three unbeaten G1-winning juvenile colts, a feat never achieved before since the start of the Pattern.”

Saudi Cup prize money withheld pending investigation

Middle East: The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) announced on Monday that it will not be paying out prize money for the $20 million Saudi Cup due to the doping scandal in America involving trainer Jason Servis, who saddled Maximum Security to win the race on February 29.

The JCSA said it was “conducting its own investigation”. Until that is concluded, it will withhold payment of prize money to winning connections Gary and Mary West and Coolmore Partners as well as to connections of all horses in prize money-winning positions.

World #32 trainer Servis is part of an alleged widespread doping scheme that has seen 27 people possibly involved in suspected criminal activity.

“Due to difficult operational circumstances caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic, the investigation has not yet concluded,” said a statement. “JCSA will issue no further statement until such time as the investigation is competed to our satisfaction.”

Maximum Security, whose storied and controversial career also includes losing the 2019 Kentucky Derby by DQ, was immediately moved to world #4 Bob Baffert’s care when the scandal involving Servis first came to light.

Meanwhile, world #10 jockey Mike Smith was demoted to third in the men-v-women Saudi International Jockeys Challenge at the Riyadh track the day before the Saudi Cup. One of the Hall of Famer’s two winners, the locally-trained Sun Hat, tested positive for traces of the prohibited substance cobalt.

The 54-year-old’s mount was disqualified and placed last and, as a result, Smith dropped in the overall competition from first to third, moving German-based Swiss rider Sibylle Vogt into the winning spot and France’s Mickaelle Michel to second, their mounts having been promoted to second and first respectively after Sun Hat’s disqualification.

French racing hoping for May restart

Europe: Racing could resume behind closed doors in France next month despite its national government extending lockdown to May 11, which governing body France Galop has nonetheless earmarked as a potential start date.

France briefly staged the racing behind closed doors for a short while last month before it was suspended on March 17 with an initial aim to returning from mid-April.

A statement from France Galop said, “Before horseracing was suspended, the industry had shown its ability to organise meetings behind closed doors whilst maintaining an excellent level of risk prevention of spreading the virus. In the context of racing behind closed doors, access to the racecourse had been strictly limited to a minimum of professionals who are essential for the organisation of a race meeting.”

France Galop and the trotting governing body are finalising a program of major meetings for May, in conjunction with governmental supervisory authorities. A racing calendar will be published as soon as possible so “racing professionals can get their horses ready for when racing resumes”.

Marquand fined after post-race hug

Oceania: British jockey Tom Marquand has been fined A$2,000 for breaking social distancing rules as he celebrated his victory on Addeybb in the prestigious G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.

Racing New South Wales also issued a A$500 fine to trainer William Haggas’ groom Safid Alam, who Marquand hugged after the impressive victory.

Racing NSW stewards sought medical advice to see if specific measures would be needed to allow the 22-year old to continue riding, but it was agreed neither had displayed Covid-19 symptoms and did not pose an increased risk to the public. Marquand, who continues his rise up the TRC Global Rankings, moving up ten places to #75 this week, has been given the green light to return to the saddle.

Full steam ahead for Keeneland September sale

North America: Keeneland CEO Bill Thomason has confirmed that its sales team is “moving forward full steam” with plans for its September Yearling Sale, which is planned to begin as intended on September 14 and will mirror last year’s three-day schedule.  

Thomason believes the self-proclaimed ‘world’s most significant Thoroughbred auction’ is “vital not only to Keeneland, but to the entire Thoroughbred industry”. He admitted, “Like in every aspect of life right now, there are unknowns and we do not have all the answers yet.”

It is hoped that the sale can be go ahead under normal circumstances, but Keeneland VP of Racing and Sales, Bob Elliston, assured that the Lexington operation is “planning for all contingencies because our entire focus is to deliver a successful sale in September”. 

Entry deadline for the September Sale remains Friday, May 1. However, those who enter horses but withdraw them by Friday, June 12, will not pay any portion of the entry fee. 

Death of Hank Steinbrenner

North America: U.S. sport is mourning the death ofNew York Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner, whose family owns and operates Kinsman Farm in Florida. The 63-year old died from a longstanding health issue.

His father, the late former Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner III, founded the Florida breeding operation in 1969 and Hank worked there from his teenage years. On the track, Kinsman Stable won the G1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga in 2007 with Majestic Warrior. Between 1977 and 2005, it ran six horses in the Kentucky Derby, with its first runner, Steve’s Friend, faring best, finishing fifth.

Since 1985, Steinbrenner served as a director of Bay Farms Corporation and was a member of the board of the Ocala Breeders Sales Company. Jessica Steinbrenner, Hank’s sister, is president of Kinsman Farm.

Elsewhere in racing…

North America: In recognition of the economic hardship brought on by the global pandemic, all stallions owned by prominent owner-breeder Charles Fipke will stand the 2020 breeding season at no charge.

Oceania: Australian all-time great Might And Power died of colic on Saturday aged 26 at the Living Legends equine retirement facility. More here

Europe: Britain’s all-weather champions - jockey Ben Curtis, trainer Mick Appleby and owner Godolphin – have donated their respective cash prizes to a National Health Service charity to help fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. More here 

Africa: South African racing authorities are targeting return to action on May 1. More here

Europe: Credit card betting has been banned in Britain to protect people from financial harm. More here 

North America: Nebraska’s Tom Sage has been named as the new chairman of the Association of Racing Commissions International. More here

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