The weekly TRC industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
Death of Sea Of Class
Europe: Two-time G1 winner and last year’s Arc runner-up Sea Of Class has died following a battle with colic. The filly was placed in intensive care a fortnight ago after it was confirmed that she would not race again.
Reports had been cautiously optimistic, but trainer William Haggas said Sea Of Class “took a turn for the worse” in the early hours of Monday, when the decision to put her to sleep was unanimously taken.
Haggas said the owners, the Tsui family, who also owned her Classic winning-sire Sea The Stars, had been in “full support of all decisions taken” of the “best filly we had anything to do with”, whose finest days came in the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks last season.
Regular jockey James Doyle described the 4-year-old as “one in a million”, adding that her passing “actually hit me quite hard – [she is] one of those horses you dream about riding”.
New disciplinary body in Victoria
Oceania: A newly formed Victorian Racing Tribunal to enhance and streamline the disciplinary and appeals process for Thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing has been launched. It will also oversee the determination of a broad range of appeals imposed by controlling bodies.
It takes over from the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in Thoroughbred racing and will come into operation for the new season starting August 1.
The establishment of the tribunal is part of the Andrews Labour Government’s comprehensive plan to ensure Victoria remains “the pre-eminent racing state in Australia”.
Leopardstown chief takes helm at the Curragh
Europe: The chief executive of Leopardstown racecourse, Pat Keogh, will take over as CEO of Curragh racecourse and training grounds with immediate effect, succeeding Derek McGrath, who decided to leave last week.
McGrath is believed to have been placed on gardening leave until he vacates his role at the end of the season. The former chief executive of European rugby suggested there had been a failure to "integrate behind a shared vision for what we want the Curragh to be”, which is believed to have dismayed many members of the board and forced the abrupt move.
Keogh – who “look[ed] forward to the challenges provided by the Curragh” - will continue in his duties with Leopardstown, but that responsibility will be scaled back over the coming months.
Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), admitted that the redeveloped racecourse “faces many challenges”. He was, however, “delighted that Pat has agreed to take up this position”, believing that Keogh’s “remarkable job” at Leopardstown points to him being able to “establish the Curragh’s reputation as one of Ireland’s most enjoyable sporting venues”.
Doyle and Buick switch agents
Europe: After less than a year with former weighing room colleague George Baker, Godolphin jockeys James Doyle and William Buick have rejoined their previous agent, Michael Haggas, for the remainder of the European flat season.
A “gutted” Baker said that it was “an amicable agreement” to conclude the partnership. The high-flying pair announced in September that the retired jockey would book their rides in 2019, but a joint statement clarified that “things haven't really worked out the way we had planned”.
"George is an absolute gentleman,” read their statement, which added that the multiple G1-winning riders would be looked after by Haggas – “which gives us some breathing space” – until they “appoint a new agent for 2020”.
Trainer Vitali banned over mystery item
North America: Stewards at Delaware Park have suspended trainer Marcus Vitali for a year after several witnesses alleged to have seen him removing a substance from a dorm that was being searched.
John Wayne, executive director of Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, confirmed that the item that Vitali took was never found.
This is the latest brush with authority for the west coast handler, who has had several run-ins with racing commissions and track officials over the last five years. Daily Racing Form reported that Vitali “had no idea” why the ruling was issued and didn’t know he had been suspended; and he would appeal the ban.
The stewards “were not happy with his responses”, Wayne said.
Elsewhere in global news …
North America: After surviving another race enquiry to prevail in the G1 Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 20, Maximum Security is the only 3-Year-Old In NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll. More here
Europe: Goffs UK has released the catalogue for its August Sale, with 313 lots due to come under the hammer in Doncaster on Wednesday, August 7. To view the online catalogue, click here
North America: The Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (Ontario Division) has cataloged 273 yearlings to its Canadian Premier Yearling Sale, scheduled for August 29 at the sales pavilion at Woodbine Racetrack. To view the online catalogue, click here
North America: Maryland Jockey Club unveiled its eighth off-track betting facility on Monday with the opening of its newest location at Long Shot’s sports bar in the Clarion Inn Event Center in Frederick, Maryland.
Europe: Whitwell Bloodstock’s Nicky Murray, a popular figure in the British breeding industry, died on Sunday after a battle with cancer. More here
North America: Just under 100 horses have been consigned to the Texas Summer Yearling and Mixed Sale on August 26 at the Texas Thoroughbred Sales Pavilion on the grounds of Lone Star Park. To view the online catalogue, click here