31 May 2011

Trevor Lobb new CEO at Emirates Park

Emirates Park principal Nasser Lootah announced Trevor Lobb has been appointed the stud’s new chief executive. Over 2 decades, Lobb previously headed the development of the most expansive individual thoroughbred operation anywhere in the southern hemisphere: Jack & Bob Ingham’s racing & breeding enterprises, including the purchase of Woodlands studs at Denman & Cootamundra, plus in the creation of Crown Lodge at Warwick Farm. Under the Woodlands banner, Lobb & his team successfully launched the stud careers of Crown Jester, Quest For Fame, Grand Lodge, Dr Grace, Strategic, Canny Lad, Commands, Domesday, Ad Valorem & of course Lonhro.

Local hero Orfevre takes GI Japan Derby

In Japan, favoured colt Orfevre (Stay Gold-Oriental Art, by Mejiro Mc Queen) followed up last month’s 3-lengths victory in the Gr1 Satsuki Sho-2000 Guineas (2000m) at Tokyo with a 1.75-lengths victory in the ¥313 million (A$3.662m) Gr1 Tokyo Yushun-Japanese Derby (2400m) for 3YOs at Tokyo. Orfevre (ridden by Kenichi Ikezoe for trainer Yasutoshi Ikee) defeated fellow colts Win Variation (Heart's Cry-Super Ballerina, by Storm Bird) & Belshazzar (King Kamehameha-Maruka Candy, by Sunday Silence). Orfevre took his record to 4 wins (also including March's Gr2 Sho Spring Stakes over 1800m at Hanshin) & 3 placings (including February's Gr3 Kisaragi Sho over 1800m at Kyoto & January's Gr3 Sho Shinzan Kinen over 1600m at Kyoto) from 8 starts for ¥411,209,000 (AUD$4.811m) earnings. (Breedingracing.com)

Randwick trainer fined $1k for "wielding a knife"

Racing NSW stewards fined Randwick trainer Bob Pearse $1,000 for “wielding a knife” during an altercation that left stable-hand Daniel Brittle with “wounds to the thigh & upper arm”. Pearse was charged with improper conduct over his actions of “wielding a blacksmith’s knife when directing Brittle to leave his stable precinct”. Brittle was also charged with improper conduct after being found guilty of “tackling Pearse & wrestling the trainer on the floor of the feed room in his stables”; stewards fined Brittle $500. Read the Stipes' report here.

27 May 2011

HK racing boss slams VRC over $600k Caviar bonus

An “international race club row could threaten the much-anticipated clash between champions Black Caviar & Rocket Man at Flemington this Spring,” reported The Herald-Sun. The Hong Kong Jockey Club “chided the Victoria Racing Club for offering bonuses to host the 1st showdown between the world's 2 best sprinters. HKJC executive director of racing Bill Nader said the VRC was “frustrated & desperate to make an impression” in its decision to offer a $600,000 bonus if Rocket Man won the Gr1 Patinack Farm Classic down Flemington's “straight 6” (1200m) on November 5. (Black Caviar, unbeaten in 13 career starts & rated the world's best sprinter, does not qualify for the bonus as she has not raced overseas.)

Jockey Ganderton cops two month ban for "non-trier"

Racing NSW stewards suspended jockey Daniel Ganderton for 66 days (from May 26-August 1) after finding him guilty on a series of charges relating to "failure to take all reasonable & permissible measures" to win on the Liam Birchley-trained filly Liesele at Scone on May 14. Read the full Stipes report here.

26 May 2011

Vic Trainer Barry James cops $4k Drug Fine

The Victorian Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board fined trainer Barry James $4,000 following the prohibited substance hydrocortisone (at a mass concentration in excess of 1.00 milligrams per litre) being recorded in a urine sample taken from his galloper Sylvan Cee Tee after its win at Horsham on October 17 last year.

23 May 2011

Cannabis tokes its toll on racing with latest drug-use bans

Racing Victoria stewards suspended registered stable employees Gary Preston and James Ryan from riding track-work for 2-years  and 8 months respectively, after a urine samples provided at Bendigo on April 11 "showed the presence of banned substances d-methamphetamines and; 11-Nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (cannabis)". In assessing penalties, stewards took into account the guilty pleas and "poor record in this area" of both.
The suspensions continue the run of stories linking wacky-tabacky to the racing game:
  • In April 2011, two Casino (NSW) trackwork riders were "banned for three months after testing positive to cannabis. Anthony Townsend, who is also a trainer, and his friend Jason Cumming pleaded guilty at a stewards’ inquiry.
  • Cannabis cultivation looms large in the ongoing investigation over the murder in February 2011 in Melbourne of one-time trainer and prominent racehorse owner, Les Samba.
  • In January 2011, "racing mogul Lord Derby was in shock after a cannabis factory was found on one of his farms. Police swooped on sprawling Hatchfield Farm, in Newmarket, Suffolk, and discovered a drugs factory with 87 cannabis plants."
  • In November 2010, "Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Jim Cassidy has been suspended from riding for three months after testing positive for cannabis. Cassidy... pleaded guilty to providing a sample containing a banned substance after riding at Warwick Farm near Sydney on October 4." Cassidy blamed his "bad knees" for the indiscretion.

11 May 2011

Vale Lindsay Park: Locals mourn end of an era for SA racing

Elizabeth Windsor inspects super sire Without Fear at Lindsay Park
during her 1977 tour of Australia. PIC: unimelb.edu.au
The locals at The Barossa Herald are in mourning:
"The world-famous Lindsay Park Stud at Angaston is now resigned to history. The disappearance of a South Australian racing icon became complete this week with the announcement that the stud operation will now be known as Cornerstone Stud. The renaming signifies the start of a new era for the famous South Australian thoroughbred nursery. Co-owners Sam Hayes and Darren Thomas decided to rename the business Cornerstone Stud almost three years after purchasing the stud business from David Hayes in July 2008..."
Lindsay Park was established at Angaston in the Barossa Valley in the 1840s as a merino wool stud and was bought in 1965 by Colin Hayes, already Adelaide's leading trainers, who officially started training there in 1970. He turned Lindsay Park into a horse racing a breeding institution. Citing "business reasons", son David has taken the name and the family game to Euroa.

07 May 2011

Classic call: Bill Collins 1986 WS Cox Plate

Is this the greatest call in Australian turf history? Relive Bill Collins' spine-tingling commentary of one of the great renewals of Australia's greatest WFA classic, the do or die battle in 1986 between the two Kiwi stars, Bonecrusher and Waverley Star. This extended clip is from the live coverage of the event on national television. "The Accurate One" calls his way into sport broadcasting immortality, pulling out a line that today's scriptwriting racecallers can only think up ahead of time.

06 May 2011

Jumps racing's global PR nightmare

Horse jumps into crowd. Does publicity get any worse than this?

Once upon a time promoters of the time-honored Grand Annual Steeplechase, first run 1872 and one of the great races on the Australian turf calendar, would have thought that the prospect of global media coverage of their race an impossible dream. Yesterday it became their nightmare. Forget the horses, jumps racing is now causing actual bodily harm to toddlers and grannies. You wouldn't read about it. You don't need to, it's all on Youtube. In the PR war, jumps racing is being put on a par with clubbing seals or culling dolphins.

And in a bizarre prophecy, Warrnambool's own The Standard newspaper told their readers the night before the Grand Annual  to "Expect a two-horse race". Only two of the race's eight starters survived the 5500 metre marathon to fight out the finish.

04 May 2011

RSPCA declares Warrnambool a "killing fields"

Scene from the Steeplechase: The Fallen Jockey,
1866, oil on canvas. Edgar Degas, 
Breedingracing.com reports: The RSPCA declared Warrnambool racecourse has become a "killing fields" after another horse died in the 1st jumps race on the opening day of its May carnival. Jockey Michelle Hagley was taken to Warrnambool Base Hospital "for observation" after her mount Shine The Armour crashed through the 2nd-last jump & died on the track. Monday's death was the third in Victoria this year and RSPCA Victoria president Dr Hugh Wirth, calling again for jumps racing to be banned in the state, told The Herald-Sun that horses died "with great frequency" at Warrnambool, emphasising: "Warrnambool, of course, is the killing fields for horses. That's how bad it is. Every time they do something at Warrnambool there are deaths." Similarly Animal Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes called for the remaining 2 days of the carnival (which combines flat & jumps racing) to be cancelled, adding: "This is an appalling outcome from the very first jumps race at Warrnambool. It must surely demonstrate again to the Victorian government that jumps racing is highly dangerous & cannot be made safe for horses or jockeys." However Australian Jumps Association president Rodney Rae retorted it was "impossible to completely eliminate fatalities" and noted: "Our objective is to manage the risk & minimise those incidents, because any industry that has animal participation in it, you are going to have incidents & fatalities from time to time. It's as simple as that. So they happen. It's upsetting, but we just have to get on with the job as it's part of an industry."

So You Think you can gallop? Sure thing.

In the space of 48 hours, first with Frankel and then So You Think, did we see two of the greatest horses in the history of the turf? What a summer awaits fanciers of the thoroughbred...

02 May 2011

Cecil says freakish Frankel no Derby certainty

Frankel set the turf world on fire at the weekend winning the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket with a breathtaking front running performance. Check all the superlatives here but Sporting Life was typical in putting the run on a pedestal:
"Those present at Newmarket on Saturday witnessed a genuine piece of racing history as Frankel produced one of the great performances in winning the Qipco 2000 Guineas. Unbeaten and the subject of incredible hype, the Henry Cecil-trained colt lived up to all the pre-race talk as he made every yard on the way to a stunning six-length success, the best since Tudor Minstrel in 1947."
Meanwhile, the only doubt in trainer Henry Cecil's mind remains Frankel's ability to get the mile and a half of the Epsom Derby: "At this stage, as Frankel is not a certain runner, I wouldn't back him for the Derby," Cecil told the Scottish Daily Record. "I would think Ascot (and the mile of the G1 St James's Palace Stakes) would be more probable. He could take on the older horses over a mile in races like the Sussex Stakes and the QEII and we're going to put him in mile-and-a-quarter races later on, races like the Juddmonte. If I feel the Derby isn't the right race then we shouldn't go for it. You're going into completely unknown territory."

Brisbane stewards disqualify punter 12 months over "non-triers"

Breeding & Racing Magazine reports: Racing Queensland stewards announced they have disqualified professional punter Stephen Fletcher for 12 months "effective immediately" following last month's determination that he 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. The stewards previously noted: El-Issa (who has already been disqualified for 2 years) "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." In their latest announcement confirming Fletcher's penalty, stewards added he "is a professional punter who derives part of his livelihood from wagering on thoroughbred racing"; "the offence found to have been committed on this occasion is a very serious one"; "Fletcher's conduct has the capacity to deter those already involved in the sport from continuing their association, and may discourage individuals from becoming involved in, or wagering on the sport"; Fletcher "was not the principal offender"; however Fletcher "was a significant financial beneficiary of the conduct of jockey El-Issa". (May 2)