28 April 2011

Super sire of sires Sadler's Wells dead at 30

Breedingracing.com reports: Legendary US-bred & Irish-based stallion Sadler's Wells (Northern Dancer-Fairy Bridge, by Bold Reason) "one of the most influential stallions of all time, has died at the Age of 30 of natural causes in his paddock at Coolmore Stud in County Tipperary" overnight, reported racingpost.com. Sadler's Wells (who has sired 323 stakes-winners to date) "helped to carry Coolmore to a position of global influence during a career at stud that started with a bang & carried on in that vein, leading to 14 sires championships in Britain & Ireland". His initial crop yielded 6 individual Gr1-winners & "from then on he enjoyed unparalleled success: Highflyer's age-old record of 13 stallion titles came & went & every single Classic was won by a son or daughter of the bay son of Northern Dancer bred by Robert Sangster's Swettenham Stud". As Sadler's Wells grew older his sons "came to challenge his dominance of the stallion ranks & ultimately succeed him at the head of the field: sons like Old Vic, Montjeu & his Gr1 English Derby-winning duo Galileo & High Chaparral all hold high rank among the world's best sires".

Gai cops blowback over PM's tsunami chic

Apropos of nothing, Sydney horse trainer Gai Waterhouse has sparked a brouhaha with scathing comments about Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's fashion sense during a visit to a tsunami-devastated village in Japan.

24 April 2011

Hay List gets what Hay List wants...

Trainer John McNair, whose champion Hay List ran away with the G1 All-Aged States at Randwick on Saturday, opened up this morning on TVN's Racing Review: "The Gosford Race Club have been tremendous...  I can work the horse almost any day that I like, on the course proper, and I'll say, 'listen I want a slow track, or I want a heavy track or whatever' and he'll put the sprinklers on and magically the track is perfect!" After a pause, Mark Shean joked: "We'll cut that bit out I think."

23 April 2011

McCoy: UK club's whip ban just a publicity stunt

JUMPS riding legend A.P. McCoy, writing in London's Daily Telegraph, has slammed the unilateral move by Towcester racecourse to ban the use of the whip in races. "Quite frankly, I’m appalled by the news and any decisions of that magnitude concerning the Rules of racing and a fundamental part of the sport should not be allowed to be made by one racecourse," wrote McCoy, champion jumps jockey every season since 1995/96, and the first hoop to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year (in 2010). McCoy denounced the Towcester move "a publicity seeking stunt" announced on the eve of its biggest annual raceday.

Landmark ruling awards Jockey $770k damages

The Hobart Mercury reports on a landmark court ruling whereby jockey Simon Snell was deemed to have engaged in "grossly negligent conduct" by causing a race fall that would end the career of fellow jockey Kevin Dodge. The judgement against Snell awarded $770,000 plus legal costs to the veteran Dodge, and could have wide-ranging legal implications for the sport. Justice Helen Wood in the Supreme Court in Hobart ruled Snell was grossly negligent in cutting his mount, The Mighty West, across the front of the field towards the rail, around the 200m mark in a race at Hobart's Elwick Racecourse on 28 January, 2007. The Mercury's David Killick wrote "Justice Wood said jockeys owed a duty of care to their fellow riders to take reasonable care to avoid causing risk of injury and Snell's move was fraught with risk." Dodge broke 11 bones and punctured a lung in the fall, and hasn't been on a horse since.

22 April 2011

Big Punter Fletcher Guilty In El-Issa "Non-Trier" Inquiry

Breeding & Racing Magazine reports
  • Racing Queensland stewards yesterday (April 20) found prominent punter Stephen Fletcher "was a party to the failure of the horse" Bold Glance (ridden by Bobby El-Issa) to "run on its merits" when beaten by Essington at Eagle Farm on February 26. 011. The stewards noted: El-Issa did not run Bold Glance on its merits; Fletcher is a close associate of El-Issa; Fletcher is a large scale professional punter; prior to the race in question, Fletcher had a history of successfully laying horses ridden by El-Issa to the extent that is not similar to any other rider; Fletcher's explanation is not supported by his Betfair history; Fletcher was a significant financial beneficiary of El-Issa's failure to run Bold Glance on its merits; Fletcher's backing of Essington & laying of Bold Glance was done on the basis of information from El-Issa that Bold Glance would not try to defeat Essington. El-Issa was recently disqualified for 2 years over the matter & stewards have now sought Fletcher's submissions in respect to the penalty that may be applied to him.

Naming of the beast brews storm in a teacup

Brisbane's Courier Mail reports on a brouhaha over the naming of a NSW trotter with the registered name Stonethachristian:
Federal Discrimination and Race Commissioner Graeme Innes was surprised Stonethachristian was allowed to pass ... naming guidelines, believing it could be socially divisive. "I can certainly envisage (as offensive) having a racehorse referring to stoning members of the community," Mr Innes said. Australian Christian Lobby spokesman Lyle Shelton said Christians thought followers would take it as a joke because they've been vilified for years and "don't jump up and down about it". ... Islamic Council of Queensland president Mohammed Yusuf said if some Christians were offended, he was offended. "Yes it's distasteful. To denigrate a religion ... it's not something we want to see."
Harness Racing Australia doesn't know how "we let it through" but if it received any complaints "we'd probably cross it out". Its own guidelines frown on "any name having political, religious, commercial or sacred significance or that is otherwise inappropriate".

Stipes ban everyone but themselves at whip grab inquiry

Both jockeys involved in last week's bizarre 'whip grab' incident have been suspended by Racing Queensland Limited Stewards at an inquiry concluded yesterday, Thursday. Senior rider Shane Scriven copped a five-month suspension for improper riding after grabbing the whip of apprentice Ben Looker in the straight during a Class 2 event at Ipswich on April 15. Looker was suspended 2 weeks for failing to report the "unusual happening" to Stewards immediately after the race. Scriven had handed back the whip to the stunned apprentice after passing the winning post. Looker must count himself unlucky to cop any reprimand, given that stewards laid no charges against themselves for failing to act at the time, including not lodging their own protest or disqualifying Scriven's mount, Requested, which eventually ran second in the race. We understand Looker's obligation to report the incident, but are Stewards now relying on jockeys to do their job?

20 April 2011

Britain braces for new race-fixing scandal

The Guardian's Greg Wood  fans the flames:
"There is such a pall of smoke emerging from the British Horseracing Authority's security department that there has to be a fire in their somewhere, and there seems little doubt that several riders – and, presumably, one or more Betfair clients – will be charged with serious offences under the anti-corruption rules in the (relatively) near future. But beyond those directly involved on either side of the investigation, no one knows for sure who they are, and so the rumours are flying."

19 April 2011

How dangerous is the Grand National?

BBC News Magazine asks: 'How dangerous is the Grand National?':

"The Grand National is billed as the "ultimate test of horse and jockey" by its organisers, as well as the world's most famous steeplechase. This year two horses died in the race. Ornais suffered a fatal fall at the fourth fence and Dooneys Gate at the sixth. The deaths have prompted some to call for an end to the historic race, with animal rights groups saying it is cruel. So how dangerous is it?"

18 April 2011

Improper riding charge likely for Scriven's 'brain snap'

Melbourne's Herald-Sun reports:
Shane Scriven's "brain snap" at Ipswich on Friday is likely to have serious consequences this week when he faces a stewards' inquiry into snatching another jockey's whip in the final 100m of a race. Scriven, one of the most senior and respected jockeys in Queensland, could face an improper-riding or improper-practice charge.

Samba coverage takes dark turns

  • Cannabis found on slain trainer Les Samba's farms: "... Marios Georgas, a Samba associate, was arrested again by South Australian police after more than 3000 cannabis plants were uncovered at the same area of land in Peebinga as Mr Samba's first brush with the law. -- The Herald Sun.
  • Catch my Dad's Killer: Grieving daughter appeals for witnesses to come forward. Video from The Daily Telegraph.

Presnell calls for Easter Doncaster restoration

Following the disappointing crowds at Randwick during the second year of a revamped AJC/ATC Sydney carnival, Max Presnell in The Sydney Morning Herald adds his voice to chorus calling for the restoration of the Doncaster Handicap back to its traditional date on Easter Saturday:
"... Historically, Easter Saturday has been a prime racing day, like the first Tuesday in November at Flemington. Alas, like Sydney racing in general, it has been downgraded. Despite the Sydney Cup, All Aged Stakes and Champagne Stakes, the coming fare at headquarters this week lacks the same impact as the traditional first day of the Easter carnival at headquarters. Under the circumstances, the Australian Turf Club did well to get a reported 18,435 last Saturday following the 25,368 on the previous glorious Black Caviar occasion. One of the strengths of the Melbourne spring, arguably the world's best racing carnival, is that it has only finetuned the major traditional dates."
Meanwhile, the Grand Plan for Randwick could mean closing the track for 2012, leaving Onkaparinga's famous Easter meeting still lonely.

15 April 2011

Style police blast Dubai's Meydan

Brutal assessment of Dubai in Vanity Fair zeroes in on the al Maktoum family's racing obsession, saving special scorn for Meydan racecourse on Dubai World Cup night:
"The track sits in a wasteland surrounded by the exhausted squirm of motorways. I walk around it and look not at the galloping horses and their bright jockeys but back up at the stands. Here in one long panorama is the Dantean vision of modern Dubai—the Arabs huddled in a glass dome, looking like creatures from a Star Trek episode in their sepulchral winding-sheet dishdashas. Next to them are the stands for Westerners, mostly British, loud and drunk, dressed in their tarty party gear. The girls, raucous and provocative, have fat thighs that wobble in tiny frocks. Cantilevered bosoms lurch. The boys, spiky and gelled, glassy-eyed and leering. In the last enclosure, the Asians, packed in with families and picnics, excited to be out of the Portakabin dormitories and the boredom and the homesickness of Internet cafés. In front of them all are the ranks of wired-up security guards, making sure the layers of this mutually dismissive society don’t pollute each other. After the horses have run, Elton John will perform."

12 April 2011

Murder probe: Police raid home of Nikolic's brother

SMH.com.au reports:
"Police today raided the Gold Coast home of John Nikolic, the brother of a prominent jockey, in connection with the shooting death of racing identity Les Samba. Police executed search warrants at the home of Mr Nikolic, 37, the brother of jockey Danny Nikolic at Ron Penhaligan Way, Robina, at 9.30am. During the raid, officers seized several items as part of their investigation into the fatal shooting of the former racing trainer on a Melbourne street on February 27."