The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
Racing rallies round after Notre-Dame blaze
Europe: Senior figures in French racing have been quick to offer financial and moral support to the people of Paris after a fire tore through the iconic Notre-Dame cathedral.
France Galop president Edouard de Rothschild announced the Prix du President de la Republique, the biggest handicap chase in the calendar – on Easter Sunday at Auteuil – would be renamed the Prix de Notre Dame de Paris this year. All betting profits from the race will be donated to a national fund established to help pay for the reconstruction.
Ten-time French champion jockey Christophe Soumillon took to social media to praise the city’s Paris fire service, the Sapeurs Pompiers, and commit his personal winnings from this week’s Craven Meeting at Newmarket to the fund. The Belgian-born rider told his followers that he felt ‘French at heart’.
Coolmore’s all-star Aussie stallion roster
Oceania: Coolmore Australia has announced the fees for their 2019 stallion roster, which includes new shuttlers Justify, Saxon Warrior and Mendelssohn.
Fastnet Rock, who has stood at a private fee for the last five Australian breeding seasons, is now listed at A$165,000 (including GST) - the highest fee on the 15-strong roster, given that Triple Crown hero Justify’s price is listed as private. Saxon Warrior is currently standing at Coolmore Stud in Ireland for a fee of €30,000 and he will commence his Australian duties at A$24,750, while Mendelssohn has been introduced at A$17,600 (including GST).
“We believe our fees offer Australian breeders great value for money and access to the world’s best bloodlines,” said Colm Santry, Coolmore Australia’s nominations and sales manager. “It’s unique to be standing two U.S. Triple Crown winners [American Pharoah is also on the roster] in addition to Australian 2-year-old Triple Crown winner Pierro.”
Coolmore Australia principal Tom Magnier said, “We believe it is the best line-up of stallions ever assembled in Australia.”
2019 roster (2018 fee in brackets)
Adelaide $11,000 (unchanged)
American Pharoah $66,000 (unchanged)
Caravaggio $27,500 ($33,000)
Choisir $27,500 ($29,700)
Churchill $22,000 ($27,500)
Fastnet Rock $165,000 (Private)
Justify Private (new)
Mendelssohn $17,600 (new)
Merchant Navy $55,000 (unchanged)
Pierro $88,000 (unchanged)
Pride Of Dubai $38,500 ($44,000)
Rubick $38,500 ($17,600)
Saxon Warrior $24,750 (new)
So You Think $38,500 ($44,000)
Vancouver $44,000 ($49,500)
Big rise in Zoustar’s fee
Oceania: Widden Stud has announced Zoustar’s 2019 fee will rise from A$60,500 to A$154,000 on the back of a year highlighted by the trifecta in the G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington last spring.
Zoustar was named Australia’s leading first season sire in 2017-18 and is currently standing for £25,000 in the UK at Tweenhills Stud, where he is serving about 120 mares after last spring covering 243 mares at the Hunter Valley operation.
Zoustar is the sire of seven individual stakes winners, including this season’s G3-winning juvenile Sun City, from two crops of racing age, while his yearlings sold for up to A$1 million and averaged A$328,571 at last week’s Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.
“Zoustar is the most exciting young stallion in the world and that demand has extended to the Northern Hemisphere, where he is covering a full book of mares at Tweenhills Stud,” Widden Stud principal Antony Thompson said.
Widden Stud will also stand newly retired multiple G1-winning Trapeze Artist, who will begin his first season at a fee of A$99,000.
A first for Pharoah
Europe: 2015 U.S. Triple Crown hero and freshman sire American Pharoah’s first runner, Monarch Of Egypt, picked up where his illustrious father left-off on the track, winning on his debut.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt, out of the G2-winning Galileo mare Up, made most of the running in the a five-furlong race at Naas under world #1 jockey Ryan Moore before drawing clear impressively to win by almost three lengths.
Monarch Of Egypt was acquired by Peter Brant’s White Birch Farm and the Coolmore partners for $750,000 at Keeneland, and the win will go some way to dispelling any doubts that the sire’s progeny would not act on turf. While the son of the late Pioneerof The Nile, may have done most of his racing on dirt, the female side of his pedigree is full of talented turf runners.
Young trainer buys Cumani yard
Europe: Charlie Fellowes has purchased the historic Bedford House Stables in Newmarket from the recently retired Luca Cumani.
The sale – which Fellowes called “one of the worst kept secrets in Newmarket” – was aided by the up-and-coming trainer claiming over £1 million in prize money last season, largely helped by stable star Prince Of Arran, who won the G3 Lexus Stakes at Flemington in November before finishing third in the Melbourne Cup three days later.
“I need somewhere to expand my business, so when Bedford House came on the market I saw it as too good an opportunity to turn down and I really can’t wait to get started,” said the 32-year-old, who is currently based at St Gatien Cottage Stables in the centre of Newmarket.
“It really is such an honour to be able to train out of one of the most prestigious and beautiful yards in the country,” he said. “I cannot thank Luca and Sara Cumani enough for how helpful they’ve been during the whole process.”
Cumani will move permanently to a house at his breeding operation, Fittocks Stud. Last week he was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge with a respiratory problem. The 70-year old Italian was found to be suffering from a rare condition known as epiglottitis, which is the inflammation of the epiglottis. It is not believed to be life-threatening.
Preakness grandstand blow
North America: Owners the Stronach Group have revealed that Pimlico’s northern grandstand has to close for this year’s Preakness Stakes weekend.
A recent engineering study by Faisant Associates deemed that the section, which is the oldest on the grounds and has a seating capacity for 6,670, had suffered ‘significant deterioration’ and is ‘no longer suitable to sustain that level of load-bearing weight’.
The Stronach Group said ticket holders who have purchased seats in that section of the grandstand for this year’s Preakness will be able to trade their tickets at face value for similar seating.
“It is deeply disappointing for us and the affected ticket holders that, at a peak moment in time when we generate the most amount of income for the industry, for our company, and for all stakeholders, and when we are poised to welcome racing fans to Preakness, we have to de-commission 6,670 seats,” said Bill Hecht, CEO of U.S. Real Estate for the Stronach Group.
Joseph O’Brien signs up Brendan Powell
Europe: A week after announcing his retirement form training, Brendan Powell has revealed he is joining Joseph O'Brien’s team. The 1988 Grand National-winning jockey sent out more than 600 winners as a dual-purpose trainer and enjoyed international success with Dark Emerald.
Powell, 58, said that O'Brien “wants to spend more time in the yard so I’m going to go racing and look after owners and syndicates”.
O’Brien, 25, has been based in County Kilkenny since he was officially granted a trainer’s licence in June 2016. The dual-purpose handler, son of world #4 Aidan O’Brien, has enjoyed a prolific start to his career, landing the 2017 Melbourne Cup, the 2018 Irish Derby, and sending out two winners at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.
Death of King’s Best
Asia: King’s Best, who won the Newmarket 2000 Guineas in 2000, beating Giant’s Causeway, has been euthanised at Darley in Japan following complications due to colic. He was 22 and had stood in Argentina, Australia, France, Ireland and Japan, where he was pensioned earlier this year.
The son of Kingmambo’s race career ended abruptly due to an injury in the Irish Derby. He began his stud career at Kildangan Stud in Ireland and went on to sire eight G1 winners, including 2010 Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe champion Workforce, as well as Eishin Flash, who landed the Tenno Sho in Japan in 2010.
Harry Sweeney, president of Darley Japan, paid tribute to a “great servant to Darley” who “will be missed by everyone here at Darley in Japan”.
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute, who has saddled five 2000 Guineas winners, believed King’s Best to be “as talented a miler as I’ve ever trained”, citing his “great turn of foot. “He was a class act," said the current world #13 trainer.
Kentucky Horse Park partnership
North America: Kentucky Horse Park is has entered into a new partnership with Visit Horse Country, the premier resource for equine-related tours in Kentucky. The park will serve as a convenient location for guests to purchase one-of-a-kind equine tours based on their specific interests.
“The Kentucky Horse Park was developed to get people close to the horse, and for more than 40 years has done an excellent job pursuing that mission. We’re proud to be joining the resources and experiences of our privately-owned locations as a complement to the work of the Commonwealth at the park,” said Anne Sabatino Hardy, executive director of Visit Horse Country.
Founded in 2014, Visit Horse Country is a not-for-profit organization representing 39 members across Kentucky. Tours are available at stallion farms, nurseries, clinics, feed mills and aftercare organisations, including the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center and Spy Coast Farm.
Ex-minister Tracey Crouch’s welfare role
Former sports minister Tracey Crouch has been appointed as an independent member of British racing’s Horse Welfare Board.
Her appointment follows the announcement in March that former President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and past Chairman of World Horse Welfare, Barry Johnson, has been appointed as the independent chair of the board.
The Welfare Board’s remit is to develop a new welfare strategy covering the whole racing industry. The strategy will look across the whole lifetime of racehorses, before, during and after they leave the sport. It will also look at how the sport’s welfare standards are communicated and how they are perceived by the sport, the public and other audiences.
Crouch said, “I am thrilled to be joining the board at an important time for the sport and look forward to being able to combine both my passion in animal welfare with my interest in horseracing.”
Garrett Smith takes the reins
North America: Donald Dizney’s Double Diamond Farm in Ocala, Florida, has named Garrett Smith as the farm’s new trainer.
Smith, who has already taken up his post, joins Double Diamond following a four-year stint at GoldMark Farm in Ocala. Before that, he managed a training center in South Carolina, where he worked with such stars as Congrats, Flatter, First Samurai and Madcap Escapade, and he also served as farm and racing manager at Stonecrest Farm, where he worked with multiple Graded stakes-winning multi-millionaire Perfect Drift.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to work with this first-class operation that Mr Dizney and general manager Roger Brand have assembled here at Double Diamond,” Smith said. “The sky is the limit. It’s a beautiful farm, we can train on dirt and turf, and we have lush, spacious paddocks, which make it beneficial for lay-ups and rehabilitation as well.”
Craven Meeting backing extended
Europe: Newmarket Racecourses and bet365 have announced an extension to their deal that will see the online betting company continue to sponsor the season-opening Craven Meeting for the next three years.
“We are delighted to have agreed an extended deal with bet365 ahead of what is sure to be another fantastic curtain raiser to the 2019 season at the Home of Horseracing,” said Amy Starkey, Regional Director of the Jockey Club, East Region. “Bet365 have long been valued supporters of Newmarket Racecourses and we are excited to discover which star names will emerge at bet365 Craven Meetings in the seasons to come.”
The meeting’s flagship race, the G3 Craven, was won this week by the William Haggas-trained Skardu, now as short as a 6/1 chance for the 2000 Guineas on the same track in two weeks.