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

Lady Aurelia: “She is the embodiment of equine royalty,” says consignor John Sikura of Hill ‘n’ Dale in Kentucky. Photo: Racingfotos.com

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


How much will Lady Aurelia go for?

North America: You can expect some fireworks at the Fasig-Tipton Sale on November 4 in Lexington, when the electric Lady Aurelia comes under the hammer. Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency will consign the 4-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy on behalf of Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet and co-owner Peter Leidel.

The sale has seen some huge prices paid for world-class mares in recent years, including Songbird (£9.5m last year), Havre de Grace $10m in 2012, and Better Than Honour (an astonishing $14m in 2008), and Lady Aurelia could well be driven into that stratosphere.

“Lady Aurelia is the embodiment of Stonestreet’s breeding program,” said Banke. “A brilliant filly out of a champion, she took on all-comers across the globe at the pinnacle of our sport. The first American-trained Cartier winner when she was named 2-year-old filly of the year, her talent and raw speed were breathtaking.”

Trained throughout her career by Wesley Ward, Lady Aurelia showed brilliance from the start. Her victories in 2016 included a seven-length success in the G2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and a gate-to-wire win in the G1 Darley Prix Morny at Deauville that August. She won the Cartier Award for Europe’s Champion Two-Year-Old Filly.

At three, she claimed the Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland, and then bested males in Royal Ascot’s G1 King’s Stand Stakes (see video above) before being beaten a nose by Marsha in the G1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Marsha, a daughter of Acclamation, sold for 6.6m gns at Tattersalls last December.

"Lady Aurelia is the embodiment of equine royalty,” said consignor John Sikura of Hill ‘n’ Dale.  “Her performances were historic and her wins emphatic at the highest levels of racing. She is the rarest of champions and we are honored to represent her this November.”

Added Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning: “She has the potential to become a broodmare of historic proportions.”

Melbourne Cup switching TV channels

Oceania: Australian television service Network Ten has revealed the details of its new five-year deal with the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) to broadcast the Melbourne Cup.

The agreement, worth $100 million, comes into effect in 2019 and is the biggest in the VRC’s history. Ten will carry live coverage of all four days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival – the AAMI Victoria Derby Day, Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, Kennedy Oaks Day and Seppelt Wines Stakes Day.

Seven Network, the Australian commercial free-to-air service, will remain the festival’s broadcast partner for the 2018 event. It has held the rights since 2002, when the network replaced Ten, who previously held the media rights for the ‘the race that stops the nation’ for 24 years from 1978.

Always Dreaming to stand at WinStar

North America: Always Dreaming, winner of the 2017 Kentucky Derby, has been retired from racing and has taken up residence at WinStar, where he will begin his new career as a stallion in 2019 for a stud fee of $25,000.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Always Dreaming broke his maiden by an eye-catching 11½ lengths. He followed that with four consecutive victories, culminating with his triumph in the 143rd Kentucky Derby.  

Pletcher said that the son of Bodemeister was “one of the most athletic horses I have ever trained”, even going as far as to compare the dark bay to a panther.

Tom Ryan, SF Bloodstock, said, “When we think about investing in a stallion, I want them to be athletic, fast and out of a top mare. Always Dreaming has it all.”

Girvin off to Florida

North America: Girvin, winner of the 2017 G1 Haskell Invitational Stakes, has been retired and will stand the 2019 breeding season at Ocala Stud in Ocala, Florida. Owners Brad and Misty Grady of Grand Oaks Farm have partnered with Kentucky-based Airdrie Stud, in a deal structured by West Bloodstock, to co-own Girvin through his stallion career.

Before defeating multiple Graded stakes winners McCraken, Practical Joke, Irish War Cry and Battle of Midway in the Haskell, the Kentucky-bred son of Tale of Ekati won both the G2 Risen Star Stakes and the G2 Louisiana Derby, and went to the 2017 Kentucky Derby as the top point-earner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. In the race itself, he ran 13th after a troubled passage.

“Physically, Girvin is a handsome, grand-looking horse who was precocious and became one of the best and most accomplished 3-year-olds of his generation,” said Ocala Stud’s David O’Farrell.

Euro first for Taylor Made

Europe: Taylor Made Sales Agency will offer its first European consignment at the Tattersalls December Mare Sale on December 3-6. The Kentucky operation will offer fillies and  mares, with Group/Graded success on both sides of the Atlantic, at the Newmarket sale.

Edmond Mahony, chairman of Tattersalls, was proud that Taylor Made had chosen the December Sale for its first foray into the Europe marketplace.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our customer’s chances for success,” said Mark Taylor, vice president of public sales for Taylor Made. “The Thoroughbred marketplace is becoming more interconnected than ever before.”

Sales changes on the way at Inglis

Oceania: Australian auction house Iglis will implement a number of improvements to its sales format and 2019 calendar.

A record 1,000 horses will be catalogued for the 2019 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale, which will extend to a fifth day for the first time, and start at Riverside Stables on February 9, directly following the Inglis Millennium Race Day at Warwick Farm.

The Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale will run for the four days of March 3-6 at a newly-renovated Oaklands Junction. A more-select Book 1 at Premier will be held over the first two days, with the second two days devoted to Book 2. The flagship Australian Easter Yearling Sale will be streamlined into one Book and will run for three days (April 8-10).

According to Inglis managing director Mark Webster, the company has spent “a significant amount of time gathering and analysing feedback” from its clients, such as breeders who were “under severe pressure from the ongoing drought conditions to sell early in the season”.

William Hill’s new partner

North America: In a bid to bolster its position in the U.S. sports betting market, UK bookmaker William Hill has partnered with Eldorado Resorts, a gaming company based in Reno, Nevada.

This partnership will provide both parties with extensive cross sell and profit growth opportunities, with Eldorado taking a 20 per cent stake in William Hill’s U.S. business and William Hill set for distribution in Eldorado’s casinos in 13 U.S. states.

Philip Bowcock, William Hill chief executive, said: “Partnering with Eldorado gives William Hill access to one of the largest and most attractive casino footprints, with 23 million customers across multiple states.

“Together, we’re positioned to capture the evolving U.S. opportunity – starting with land-based sports betting and extending to digital sports betting and, in some states, online gaming.”

Ruis moving east

North America: Owner-trainer Mick Ruis has said he will remove all 30 of his broodmares and his two sires, Saburo and War Envoy, from California to Pennsylvania.

The decision to move his breeding operation from Tommy Town Thoroughbreds followed a dispute with Santa Anita Park over stabling space. The 57-year old, who had 22 horses at Del Mar, claims that Santa Anita initially offered Ruis Racing ten stalls. However, after an appeal, he was given five more - although the stalls were spread across the barn.

Ruis, who will hand over his Californian license to daughter Shelbe, will continue to send some horses to the state – even if he winters in New Orleans and it “costs him $100,000” - because as he says: “I don’t want my daughter out of a job.”

He has already decided that stable star Bolt d’Oro will go to Steve Asmussen.

The San Diego-native was one of the founding members of the Pegasus World Cup and says he believes that he has always been “loyal” to Santa Anita's ownership, The Stronach Group.

Death of Chris Brown

Oceania: Expat New Zealand jockey Chris Brown passed away on Saturday in Victoria after a short illness. The 47-year-old was apprenticed to Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Snowy Lupton in New Zealand before moving to Australia to work for a number of high-profile trainers, including Gai Waterhouse, Graeme Rogerson, David Hayes, Peter Moody, Sheila Laxon and the late Ross McDonald.

“Chris dedicated his entire working life to racing,” Victorian Jockeys’ Association executive officer Matt Hyland said. “Our rider group are deeply saddened at the news of his passing and will miss him and the significant contribution he made to our industry.”

A celebration of his life will be held at Benalla Racecourse in Victoria on Thursday September 13 at 12pm.

Doping control appointments

Europe: The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) has named Dr Terry Wan and Dr. Ludovic Bailly‐Chouriberry as the new chairman and vice-chairman respectively to the IFHA’s Advisory Council on Equine Prohibited Substances.

Wan – the chief advisor of doping control at the Hong Kong Jockey Club – succeeds Professor Ed Houghton in the top job, while Bailly‐Chouriberry - director of Laboratoire des Courses Hippiques – assumes the role left vacant by the late Dr Yves Bonnaire.

IFHA chairman Louis Romanet was “eternally grateful” to the “vital research and counsel” Houghton and Bonnaire provided in Thoroughbred doping control. The Frenchman nonetheless confirmed that the IFHA was “extremely fortunate to now have two of the foremost leaders in the research of equine prohibited substances”.  

£1 million chase bonus is back again

Europe: Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR) will for a fourth straight year put up a £1 million bonus for winning connections of the Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown, which covers British G1 steeplechases the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November, the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton in December, and the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The chasing triple crown bonus, which was originally offered by Betfair from 2005 to 2010, when the legendry Kauto Star won it, was reintroduced by JCR following a five-year hiatus.

The pay-out is once again being covered by an insurance premium funded out of the JCR’s marketing budgets to promote the three events. Should it be won, the money will be split between winning connections, with 65 per cent going to the owners, 15 per cent to the trainer, ten per cent to racing staff at the winning yard and ten per cent to the jockey.

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