The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
African Horse Sickness: good news may be on the way
Africa: The International Horse Sports Confederation (IHSC) has taken “significant steps” towards the identification of a new vaccine for African Horse Sickness (AHS), which led to a ban by European Union of the continent’s horses and long-time worldwide quarantine issues over the movement of South African racehorses.
The IHSC, in conjunction with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), has supported a number of research projects aimed at addresssing critical equine health and disease issues to improve the international movement of horses.
Louis Romanet, chairman of the IHSC, believes the new vaccine would “deliver a far-reaching positive impact on horse sports around the [equine] world”.
South Africa has been badly afflicted by the ban and Romanet plans to work closely with the country, which boasts the world’s #15 jockey in Anton Marcus and two trainers in the world’s top 25 but has been forced to compete in isolation.
“We are confident that a new vaccine would be transformative for horse movements in and out of South Africa, which have been impacted by African Horse Sickness for too long,” said Romanet.
Get ready for the Winx Grandstand
Oceania: It has been only a month since Winx bid farewell to the track after four years of dominance but the accolades from Australian racing continue to come for the daughter of Street Cry, this time in the form a stand named for her.
Sydney's Royal Randwick Racecourse announced that a new $25 million grandstand would honour Winx, who won 33 consecutive races before being retired earlier this year. Twenty of her 37 career victories were contested at Royal Randwick and her trainer, Chris Waller, believes she was the reason for the need for a new grandstand, due to be completed by October 2020.
“There’s been horses do great things before Winx, but seldom do they fill up these great spaces so it’s been refreshing seeing Winx capture the fans week in, week out,” he said.
Plans are also in the works to build a statue of Winx at her home training course, Rosehill Gardens.
Saez to appeal over Kentucky Derby ban
North America: Jockey Luis Saez has been handed a 15-day suspension by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) for failing to control his ride, Maximum Security, in this month’s Kentucky Derby.
Saez was cited for failing to “make the proper effort to maintain a straight course” at Churchill Downs, which resulted in a 65/1 Country House being declared the winner.
Saez’s suspension runs from May 23 through June 14. However, his lawyer, Sean Deskins, said the suspension was unwarranted and that the rider’s legal team will file an appeal within ten days. They are also seeking a stay of the penalty pending appeal.
Last week, KHRC denied an appeal of Maximum Security’s disqualification by co-owner Gary West, adding that its stewards’ decisions are not subject to appeal.
Enable’s comeback is delayed
Europe: Dual Arc winner Enable has been taken out of the G1 Investec Coronation Cup, which comes a bit earlier than usual this year (it is the first time this century that the Epsom race will be run in May), with connections instead opting to start her season at Royal Ascot.
British champion trainer John Gosden has instead decided to postpone the 2017 Oaks winner’s comeback for 18 days. The Clarehaven handler confirmed that the filly is “in good order” and that either the G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes or the G2 Hardwicke Stakes are the targets.
“We’re aiming towards the first weekend of October [the Arc], so we certainly didn’t want to be bringing her out very early in the year. We’re looking at Ascot and then the King George,” said the current world #5 trainer.
Enable has raced at Ascot just once, when winning the King George two seasons ago.
Beauty Generation staying home
Far East: The clash between the superstars Beauty Generation and Almond Eye is off. Both had been seen as likely runners in the $2 million Yasuda Kinen over a mile on June 2, but owner Patrick Kwok has now decided against sending the Hong Kong Horse of the Year to Tokyo.
The contest loomed as one of the races of the year with not only Japanese Horse of the Year Almond Eye touted to resume her preparation but the talented Danon Premium also expected to run.
Beauty Generation, who has won all eight of his starts this term and extended his winning streak to nine, will instead rest and then connections will look to complete back-to-back perfect seasons.
Trainer John Moore said he was very happy with the decision made by the Kwok family. “The horse is not going to Japan,” Moore told the South China Morning Post. “He’s had a long season and we want to have a horse for next season to put together the same number of wins and the same programme as we did this time around.”
Buick under the weather
Europe: Godolphin jockey William Buick is to take some time off as he is currently awaiting results of tests after feeling unwell. Last year’s Investec Derby-winning jockey missed his rides in France last week and sat out the remainder of the week.
A statement on the Godolphin website said: “He is undergoing tests at Addenbrookes hospital [in Cambridge, England] and is awaiting the test results before resuming riding.”
Gigginstown pulling out of racing
Europe: Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has stunned jump racing with the announcement that his Gigginstown House Stud operation is to be wound down over the next five years.
Gigginstown was crowned champion owner in Ireland for the seventh time when the season ended at Punchestown earlier this month, and it claimed its third Grand National win in four years when Tiger Roll last month became the first horse since Red Rum 45 years earlier to win the historic race two years running.
The O’Leary’s outfit has also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice among a total of 27 winners at the Festival.
“We wish to sincerely thank all our trainers and their teams for the enormous success we’ve enjoyed over the past decade,” said O'Leary.
Applications open for an opportunity of a lifetime
Oceania: Applications are now open for the second intake of students for the Explorer Cadetship Program – a Thoroughbred Industry Careers-designed and -managed 12-month stud and stable horsemanship program, which will begin on August 5.
The program kicks off with a three-month practical and theoretical learning block at the Australian Racing and Equine Academy (Richmond, NSW), with students residing at Western Sydney University (Richmond Campus). The students are then allocated to a leading trainer, where they spend four and a half months on their first paid work experience in a racing stable, followed by another four and a half months on a leading stud farm.
The first intake of students began the Explorer Program in February this year and they’ve already received instruction from the likes of Gai Waterhouse and Hugh Bowman during the initial three-month intensive learning block. Students are currently completing the first of their two work placements.
TIC Chief Executive Lindy Maurice said, “We’ve had many standout students in the first intake who are now on the radar of the best trainers and stud farms in Australia, and when these students finish the course in another nine months there will be great opportunities waiting for them. There is no better pathway for young people considering a career in the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry.”
Applications for the next intake of 30 students will close on July 8. For further information, click here.
Boost for stayers’ series
Europe: Matchbook Betting Exchange has teamed up with the British European Breeding Fund (EBF) to match its prize money contribution to the 2019 Future Stayers’ Series, created in 2015 by the BHA and the EBF to boost the stayers’ programme.
Matchbook has also put in place a £100,000 bonus for any winner from the series who goes on to win a G1 over ten furlongs or more in the UK or Ireland in their 3-year old season.
The series consists of 16 races, all with an increased minimum prize value of £14,000, with a total value of £283,000. All the races are open to the progeny of stallions and mares that had won over ten furlongs or more. It begins at Yarmouth on August 7, culminating at Chelmsford on December 13.
The series has in the past produced stakes winners Cracksman, Stradivarius, Across The Stars, Royal Marine and Line of Duty. It is these success stories that Matchbook chief executive Mark Brosnan believes “exemplify how this series provides an insight into the staying stars of the future”.
“Matchbook are extremely passionate about the future of horse racing and we want our sponsorships to make a difference, whilst also providing exposure for our brand,” said Brosnan.
Betfred in Ascot deal
Europe: Betfred has signed a three-year deal a deal to become the official bookmaker of Ascot and Royal Ascot. The firm will have two on-course betting shops, taking over from the West Country independent Winning Post, who stepped in five years ago. Owner Fred Done said he was delighted to have agreed a deal and looked forward to “see[ing] the Betfred brand back on the racecourse”.
Elsewhere in global news …
Europe: Dual-purpose trainer David Arbuthnot will retire next month after 38 years with a licence, citing the BHA’s handling of a malicious doping case for which he was fined £1,000 as a significant factor in his decision.
The trainer of almost 500 winners is among the few current licence-holders who have been successful at the Cheltenham Festival and at Royal Ascot. He won the Duke Of Edinburgh handicap at Royal Ascot with Rinja in 1991 and the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham with Oscar Park in 2007.
North America: Remington Park has released its 2019 stakes schedule. The 67-date Thoroughbred meet runs from August 23 through December 15 and includes 32 stakes, boasting purses of more than $3.7 million. The highlights are the $400,000 G3 Oklahoma Derby and the G3 $200,000 Remington Park Oaks, both to be contested on Sunday, September 27.
North America: The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) is partnering with StableDuel and friends of the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) to present the best turned out horse awards on Preakness Day and Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico Race Course today and tomorrow. More here
Europe: Former British parliamentarian Brian Walden – who was known as ‘the bookies' runner’ due to his efforts to rescue the Tote from financial collapse in 1972 - has died at the age of 86. After the British Horseracing Board was set up in 1993, he was defeated by Lord Wakeham to become chairman of its Industry Committee. More here
North America: Due to dwindling field sizes, Arlington International Racecourse is converting its ‘state-bred’ races to ‘states-bred’ contests, including not only Illinois-bred horses but those hailing from Louisiana and Arkansas. Racing secretary Chris Polzin expects the innovation to improve field sizes for affected races from around six horses to eight or nine. More here
North America: Darby Dan Farm has announced that controller Tracie Willis has passed away following a long battle with chronic pancreatitis. Wilis had been an ever-present team member at John Phillips’ Kentucky farm for seven years. More here
North America: The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association (PHRA), formed last year to promote racing in the state, has appointed Andrew Demsky as director of digital media. Previously the on-air host and track handicapper at Tampa Bay Downs and Presque Isle Downs, Demsky is better known as Shades in the racing community. As director of digital media, he will produce videos and other content for the PHRA’s website and social media channels.
North America: The Earle I. Mack Foundation will be the lead sponsor for the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes tomorrow (Saturday May 18) on Preakness Weekend at Pimlico Race Course. The race will benefit the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Man O'War Project, a joint venture of the Earle I. Mack Foundation and Columbia University Irving Medical Center that is exploring the benefits of equine-assisted therapy in the treatment of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).