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

Rip Van Winkle, who was world champion miler when trained by Aidan O’Brien, has died in New Zealand. See story below. Photo: Windsor Park Stud

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


Death of Galileo’s second-best son

Oceania: Rip Van Winkle, the second-highest-rated progeny of Galileo (behind Frankel), has passed away at the age of 14 at Windsor Park Stud, where he was standing in New Zealand.

The three-time G1 winner and world-champion miler died after a short illness. He was trained throughout his career by Aidan O’Brien and was retired to Coolmore Stud in 2010 before shuttling to New Zealand.

“He was a great horse,” said O’Brien. “He had a lot of class and a lot of speed. Rip Van Winkle danced every dance and ran against Sea The Stars throughout his career. He's a horse we have many good memories of.”

Rodney Schick, Windsor Park's stud manager, said, “He was an unbelievable racehorse and one of the best sons of Galileo, which is hard to do.”

He said it was a “very sad day for everyone” especially given the recent success with Rip Van Winkle’s son Te Akau Shark, a multiple top-level scorer in Australia and New Zealand. He added that Rip Van Winkle was a “great character, ultimate professional, and just a lovely horse to deal with”.

CEO FitzGerald leaving RMG

Europe: After nearly 12 years in the role, Richard FitzGerald has stepped down as CEO of Racecourse Media Group (RMG), the media and data rights holding company for the UK and Ireland’s leading racecourses.

Over the course of the next six weeks, FitzGerald will hand over the position to RMG finance director Martin Stevenson, who will become acting CEO.

Roger Lewis, Chairman of RMG, thanked the former IMG man for his “exceptional leadership” that has delivered an “outstanding performance over a considerable period of time” and “significant” financial performances.

FitzGerald said, “It has been a fabulous and rewarding 12 years working for RMG. The business has flourished and delivered on the vision of the founding shareholders around a collective approach to commercialising their media and data rights. 

“There is never a good time to step down but, with resumption of racing, the new Watch & Bet deals, the terrestrial TV renewal and launch in Italy of fixed odds, and a new cycle of renewals starting shortly, it seems the right time to step down. 

ITV agrees on another three years

Europe: With less than five months to run on the current deal ITV has secured a three-year extension to be the to be the terrestrial home of horse racing in the UK.

The channel has been the exclusive free-to-air broadcaster of the sport since 2017 and, after 18 months of negotiations, a new contract has been signed worth over £8 million a year. A total of 94 fixtures - including marquee events such as the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National, the Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot, Champions Day and the Ebor Festival – will be split between ITV’s main channel and ITV4.

ITV reports 22 per cent higher ratings this year than in 2019, with the 2020 Cheltenham Festival hitting audience highs not seen since records began in 2003.

Melbourne Cup blow

Oceania: The Melbourne Cup has been a happy hunting ground for European raiders, who have claimed the prize in the two of the last three years. However, a change in restrictions to stage four in Melbourne amid the Covid-19 pandemic means it will have a much more parochial field this year.

Racing Victoria general manager of international operations Paul Bloodworth confirmed that Godolphin trainers Charlie Appleby, who won the 2018 race with Cross Counter, and Saeed bin Suroor have “advised over the last few days that they won’t be coming to Melbourne this year”.

“It's a great shame. Saeed has been a regular in Australia for 30 years and Charlie certainly over the last five or six years, so it's a shame they won't be able to compete,” he said.

Elsewhere in Racing …

North America: Fasig-Tipton has catalogued 662 yearlings for the Selected Yearlings Showcase on September 9-10. More here

Oceania: Trainer Bjorn Baker has been fined for a breach of Covid-19 protocols after taking a selfie on course. More here

North America: Jeanne Mirabito, the founder and president of Our Mims Retirement Haven, died on Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. More here

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