The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
Ex-Olympic rower takes British racing helm
Europe: Annamarie Phelps has been named as the new chair of the British horseracing Authority (BHA). She succeeds Atholl Duncan, who has served as interim chairman since Steve Harman stood down in November.
Phelps, 52, a former Olympic rower, joins the regulatory organisation on June 1 in what will be her first role in the industry. She has enjoyed a distinguished career in sports governance, holding positions such as chair of British Rowing, vice-chair of the British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association, and she was also the first female board member of The Boat Race Company.
Phelps, one of seven candidates understood to have been interviewed for the position, said: “I relish the opportunity to work in British racing. Everything I’ve seen and heard tells me that racing people are passionate about their sport, proud of its magnificent heritage and unified by a love of horses.
“I believe that collaboration is the key to success and am privileged to be given a chance to play my part.”
Roaring Lion shuttling to New Zealand
Oceania: Cambridge Stud has acquired the Southern Hemisphere breeding rights to Cartier European Horse of the Year Roaring Lion, a four-time G1 winner and the world’s highest-rated 3-year-old of 2018.
The son of Kitten’s Joy will shuttle from Tweenhillls in the UK to Brendan and Jo Lindsay’s Cambridge Stud for the forthcoming breeding season, where he will stand for a fee of $35,000.
Roaring Lion joins Tavistock, Burgundy, Highly Recommended and Embellish on the Cambridge Stud stallion roster for 2019, as well as fellow European champion 3-year old Almanzor.
Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani, Chairman of Qatar Racing, complemented Cambridge Stud’s “determination to secure our world champion”, a horse that provided the Qatari royal and his brothers with their “greatest days on the racecourse”.
Fahad disclosed his “delighted at the support breeders have shown [Roaring Lion] in Europe” and “feels confident he will be as popular in the Southern Hemisphere”.
Senator wades in on Santa Anita deaths
North America: The controversy over the recent spate of deaths at Santa Anita Park continues to rage with U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein adding to the debate.
In an open-letter to California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) chairman Chuck Winner, Feinstein called for the suspension of Thoroughbred horse racing at the Californian track until the “cause or causes” for the 23 deaths are officially determined.
Feinstein - “a lifelong lover of horses” – questioned what Winner and the CHRB board was doing to “both investigate this matter and address some of the concerns that these incidents have rightly raised”.
“The death of a single horse is a tragedy,” wrote the Senator. “But I’m appalled that almost two dozen horses have died in just four months.”
Although Feinstein did praise CHRB’s recent attempts to improve animal welfare – with action on the whip and race-day drugs - she asked whether the “complete elimination of medications such as Lasix and the use of synthetic track surfaces” was being considered by the regulatory body.
Feinstein cited the federal legislation recently filed in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019. “I would appreciate your views on this legislation and whether additional provisions should be added to strengthen it.”
The CHRB, has for its part, posted notice of an April 12 meeting, not on its regular calendar, where it will discuss the “possible re-allocation of race dates granted to the Los Angeles Turf Club at Santa Anita Park Race Track pursuant to Business and Professions Code Section 19530”.
Deep Impact takes a break
Asia: Shadai Stallion Station has confirmed that champion sire Deep Impact won’t cover any more mares for the remainder of this year.
The son of Sunday Silence is suffering from neck pain, but the Japanese farm emphasised that his condition is not life-threatening. The current world #5 sire (a former world #1) had been serving mares since the start of the Northern Hemisphere breeding season in February but stopped last month.
Deep Impact entered stud duties in 2007 and has been the leading sire in Japan every year since 2012 and looks on track for his eighth champion sire title this year.
He is expected to have around 20 foals from this year’s crop.
Refusing to get carried away …
Asia: Winx, City Of Light and Beauty Generation, who is in action in a G2 at Sha Tin on Sunday, remain joint top in the second edition of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings for 2019 on a mark of 125.
Biggest mover in the updated standings is Godolphin’s Old Persian (122) after his victory in the $6m Longines Dubai Sheema Classic over Cheval Grand (119).
But the assessors were less impressed with the efforts of the two biggest stars of Dubai World Cup night at Meydan last weekend. Japanese super filly Almond Eye’s smooth win in the $6m Dubai Turf has been assessed as being worth only 119, while Thunder Snow, winner of the big race itself for the second straight year, gets no more than 121 for his narrow defeat of Gronkowski (120).
Monomoy Girl setback
North America: 2018 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner and Eclipse champion Monomoy Girl is recovering from a mild case of colic that is expected to sideline her for three weeks.
The 4-year-old daughter of Tapizar had been shipped from Fair Grounds to Churchill Downs, where she was found it be ill upon arrival. She spent several days being treated for dehydration at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington and has since been transferred to WinStar Farm for her recovery.
Trainer Brad Cox said that the “timing is not good” – her seasonal debut had been slated for May 3 in the $500,000 G1 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs – but added that “we have to put the horse first”.
Death of Sunline’s trainer
Oceania: Former trainer Trevor McKee has died at the age of 81, triggering an outpouring of tributes for the much-loved member of the New Zealand racing fraternity.
McKee shot to prominence as the co-trainer of champion mare Sunline, whom he prepared in partnership with his son, Stephen and their mare made the pair a household name.
Sunline was retired from racing in 2002 after winning 32 of her 48 starts and A$11.3 million in prizemoney, including two Cox Plates.
McKee was known to be a seller of horses earlier in his career and said he was lucky that Sunline came along later in life.
McKee retired from training in 2006, but continued to help Stephen and was a regular fixture at racecourses throughout New Zealand until suffering a stroke last year.
New faces at RMG
Europe: Jim Mullen and Britt Boeskov have been appointed independent non-executive directors of Racecourse Media Group (RMG), the umbrella organisation for the 34 racecourses that hold an interest in Racing TV, Racing TV International and Racecourse Data Company.
Mullen was most recently group chief executive of the Ladbrokes Coral Group. Boeskov brings to RMG nearly 15 years of hands-on executive and managerial experience at one of the leading European listed gaming companies, Kindred Group (formerly Unibet).
A press release from the company stated that the “appointments will enable the RMG board to understand better the challenges that face the gaming industry and provide strategic advice at a pivotal time for the sector”.
‘Don’ Bennett dies at 76
North America: U.S. racing is morning the loss of trainer William ‘Don’ Bennett, who has passed away aged 76 after a long illness.
Bennett, who conditioned horses primarily in Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas, got his start in the industry in the 1960s under the tutelage of his uncle, trainer Delbert Crabtree.
Bennett opened his own farm outside Owensboro, Kentucky, in 1980, and from there went into training full time in 1985.
His most notable hose was Acting Zippy, a six-time stakes-winning son of City Zip. He co-owned the versatile horse, who won races on both dirt and turf at distances from 5½ to nine furlongs.
Bennett’s horses made over 1,400 starts and won nearly 200 races.