Chris Waller is adamant that Performer is a live chance in Saturday's Gr1 Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill despite having a less than ideal preparation for the race. The Exceed And Excel colt was required to trial to the satisfaction of stewards last Thursday after he dislodged champion jockey Hugh Bowman in the Gr2 Todman Stakes on 10 March. Before veering out sharply causing Bowman to crash into the hallowed Randwick turf, Bowman said Performer was actually working into the race quite strongly. "I thought he was struggling to win last start but Hugh assures me he was just hitting top stride," Waller told racingnsw.com.au. "I'm not putting any emphasis on it apart from the fact I want to make sure he doesn't do it again. With the blinkers on that will sort him out." He added: "There's no concern from Hugh or us in relation to the horse. It was a freak accident. It's been far from perfect but the horse looks very fit." Performer is being kept safe by bookmakers and is currently an $8 chance with TAB for the Golden Slipper.
Arrogate has been crowned the World's Best Racehorse for a second consecutive year at a ceremony at the iconic hotel Claridges in London overnight. The now retired US star earned a rating of 134 which saw him once again earn the title ahead of champion Australian mare Winx with 132. The decision to award Arrogate the top prize is a controversial, if not surprising one given he was beaten at his final three race starts. Indeed, it seems the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) placed particular emphasis on Arrogate's stunning Dubai World Cup victory in March in awarding him a rating of 134. Winx, on the other hand, has been in exceptional form for the past two years winning her last 22 races in succession and collecting her 15th Group 1 victory with an historic third Cox Plate in the spring. Click here for the complete rankings.
At Doomben racecourse in Brisbane, Vinery Stud's Gr1-winning stallion Casino Prince (Flying Spur-Lady Capel, by Last Tycoon) added a black-type success when 5YO brown gelding Cantbuybetter (Casino Prince-Lingerie Girl, by Xaar) scored a comfortable win in the $100,000 Listed Members' Handicap (1600m) for 3YO+, defeating Emphasis & Jumbo Prince. Originally purchased for $50,000 at the 2012 Magic Millions National Weanling Sale before being subsequently sold for $40,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Horse in Training Sale, Cantbuybetter improved his record to 8 wins and 7 placings (including the Listed BRC Tails Handicap) from 23 starts for $240,000 earnings.
Meanwhile, co-trainer David Hayes has addressed stamina concerns about Criterion's ability to run out a strong 3200m in the Melbourne Cup saying he has every confidence in the horse. "I think the tempo of two miles will be more comfortable for him, and I think he'll show an even better turn of foot at two miles - like Jeune and Saintly did," Hayes told Racing.com. "He's had this wonderful English summer, when the whole emphasis of the summer was training stamina into him." He added: "In the end, you never really know. But my gut feel is he'll run the two miles pretty easily." Criterion received an excellent grounding for the Melbourne spring carnival when he campaigned during the English summer against some of Europe's best horses. The handsome chestnut finished a close-up fifth in the Gr1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes (2000m) at Royal Ascot when he was not far behind the likes of top-class gallopers Free Eagle and The Grey Gatsby, before once again acquitting himself well when sixth behind Arabian Queen and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Golden Horn in the Gr1 Juddmonte International Stakes (2100m) at York on 19 August.
The Mike de Kock Syndicate, open to racehorse owners from all over the world, was officially launched on Monday night at a cocktail function in Soho, Hong Kong. Champion South African trainer Mike De Kock was on hand to address the audience as was Cape Thoroughbred COO Adrian Todd and De Kock's bloodstock advisor Jehan Malherbe. "We're very excited to be rolling this unique initiative out here tonight and looking forward to welcoming participants from all around the world to race with us," said De Kock. The De Kock Syndicate is open to anyone around the world with an emphasis on buying both quality yearlings and tried horses to race globally. "We want to promote the value and quality of South African bred bloodstock to the world as well as all the great lifestyle aspects of South Africa," added De Kock. On the back of the Hong Kong launch, the syndicate will continue to be rolled out around the world in the coming months with a truly "Global" emphasis. "This syndicate is open to anyone. Apart from sourcing yearlings at the upcoming sales, we will also be proactively looking for tried horses for the syndicate's portfolio as well," commented De Kock.
Top trainers David Hayes and Peter Moody have weighed into the debate on Gr1 Melbourne Cup qualifying conditions with Hayes suggesting there needs to be a "greater emphasis on current form" and Moody angry that "international form is given far too much kudos by handicappers", reports dailytelegraph.com.au. With Saturday's Gr2 International Cup winner Vatuvei currently languishing in 44th position in the cup order of entry Moody noted: "If this horse had won a five-horse Irish St Leger with three pacemakers and beaten a Galway maiden hurdle winner, he'd be guaranteed a start ... Or if he'd run first five in an Epsom Derby, beaten 27.3 lengths, his rating would be high enough to get in." Hayes agreed, suggesting "here and now races" (including the Gr2 Herbert Power Stakes, Gr3 Geelong Cup and Gr2 Moonee Valley International Cup) should be automatic qualifying events and that "there's something very wrong" with the fact that they aren't. He commented: "How is it that these key mile and a half (2400m) races within six weeks of the Melbourne Cup are not exempt races? ... There has to be a better system. If a horse like [Gr3 Geelong Cup winner] Gatewood, winning the key lead-up races, cannot gain a start, then there's something wrong." Moody added that key Australia-wide staying events (Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane Cups) should be linked to cup qualifying conditions noting, "We need to give local stayers more of a chance to get in."
In the UK overnight, the British Horseracing Board "sprang a major surprise when announcing fundamental changes to the controversial whip rules, together with revisions to the existing penalties" reported racingpost.com. The move "which was welcomed by the Professional Jockeys Association, follows an initiative instigated by new BHA chief executive Paul Bittar who is determined to avoid the issue dominating headlines at the Cheltenham Festival, which gets underway in less than 3 weeks". At an earlier board meeting, the directors "went further than expected when approving a proposal in which the fixed number of times use of the whip is permitted is replaced by an emphasis on reviewing the manner in which the stick is used, as well as taking account of frequency". The new rule will be ready for implementation early next month. Bittar commented: "Over 4 months have passed since the introduction of the 1st set of whip rules following the Whip Review. Despite a number of changes to both the rule & the accompanying penalty structure, it is clear that while many objectives of the Review are being met, and in particular those pertaining to horse welfare, a rule which polices the use of the whip based solely on a fixed number of strikes is fundamentally flawed. While well-intentioned, and in accordance with initial requests from jockeys for clarity & consistency via a fixed number, in practice the new rules have repeatedly thrown up examples of no consideration being given to the manner in which the whip is used, as well as riders being awarded disproportionate penalties for the offence committed."
In the UK auction ring, the fortnight of Books 1, 2 & 3 at the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale (Book 3 summary later in today’s news) concluded with final turnover rising 8% to 78,783,000 guineas (A$129.992m) which was the 3rd-highest 2-week total since the sale began (despite 23% less lots offered this year). The final average rose 26% to 51,006 guineas (A$84,200) & the final median rose 29% to 27,000 guineas (A$44,600). Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony commented: “The success of this year’s Tattersalls October Yearling Sales has without doubt given all involved in the European racing & breeding industries a much needed boost. In common with most walks of life, trading conditions in the bloodstock world have been testing in recent years & to have achieved gains across the board over the past 2 weeks has been a tribute to the way in which breeders have responded to the challenges we have all faced. An emphasis on quality over quantity has been crucial to the success of this year’s Tattersalls October Yearling Sale & buyers from throughout the world have paid the ultimate compliment with sustained demand at all levels of the market. The combined spend at this year’s October Yearling Sale has been bettered only twice this century, which is a remarkable statistic in the current economic climate.”
California Horse Racing Board vice-chairman David Israel told attendees at the University Of Arizona Symposium on Racing & Gaming the "emphasis must be on making the racing experience an entertainment experience in an effort to attract new patrons, particularly younger ones that can sustain the business" reported bloodhorse.com. Israel declared: "The average age of our on-track customer is deceased & the average age of our satellite customer is decomposed! If you don't get people to come to the racetrack & sell it as an entertainment experience, no one is going to go to their computer & turn on TVG or HRTV. Nobody wants to do that without 1st experiencing the thrill of live racing. You're not hitting the critical mass with (either TV network). Their whole job is to move people to their computers to make bets. . . . . We need to draw people to the racetrack rather than settling on increasing the market of advance deposit wagering."
Trainer John Sadler & Troy Corstens (son of trainer Leon Corstens) announced the launch of Malua Racing (with 26 boxes based at Flemington in Melbourne) which aims to “train a select group of high quality horses with the best pedigrees possible with the emphasis on quality rather than quantity”. Sadler “will concentrate on training the animals”, while Corstens “will bring clients into the stable & keep the communications up to the standard he has provided in the past with Team Corstens”. The small team will allow Sadler “to concentrate solely on the select group” & he noted: “We don’t want to be a factory, crunching out horse-after-horse. We really want to concentrate on our strike-rate & really have city or group class horses where possible.” The team is completed by the addition of recently-retired Gr1-winning jockey Brent Stanley “who will become assistant trainer to Sadler” & is “a super judge of a horse in track work”.
Cumulatively after 3 sessions at Keeneland, 580 horses sold for US$91,594,100 (down 7%) at an average of US$157,921 (down 12.3%) & a median of US$100,000 (down 9.1%). Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell commented: "One of the major points of emphasis in 2010 has been that we want to see healthy trade. The consignors are to be commended for understanding & evaluating the market, which is reflected in good clearance rates. As we've seen in previous sessions, it is a good cross-section of both international & domestic buyers. It also seems to be a cross-section of people who are purchasing for their racing stable, as well as pin-hookers. All in all, buyers were able to find good horses at a good value today."
Meanwhile Racing NSW stewards continued their "out-of-competition EPO sampling programme" at Rosehill Gardens on Friday morning & "directed 50 samples to be taken from horses trained by 16 trainers". The samples were submitted to the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory for analysis & "the results have all returned negative". In addition Racing NSW stewards also conducted inspections of all Warwick Farm trainers' stables on Friday morning "to ensure trainers are meeting their obligations under AR80E of having all relevant therapeutic substances dispensed & labelled in accordance with state legislation, with particular emphasis being placed on the prohibited substance Aminocaproic acid". No significant breaches were detected during these inspections.
In the US, "uncertainty reigns in the thoroughbred marketplace after more than a year of economic turmoil & a financial crisis that spread around the world" declared bloodhorse.com. A selection of prominent yearling auction participants were asked to comment on their "plans & expectations" as the 2009 yearling selling season approaches.
In Ireland "greater concentration on producing quality horses & a stricter appraisal of broodmare bands" were among the issues discussed at the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association National Seminar in Kilkenny, reported racingpost.com. The "over-arching theme was that the global economic situation is having a huge impact on the industry, but allied to that breeders have to assess the quality of stock being bred, what their motivation is behind the breeding of their foals along with a need to move away from breeding horses in which the market place has no interest". Breeder & bloodstock agent Luke Lillingston declared: "Although we have been breeding top horses who have won races throughout the world, we have been living in a golden era that has masked the fact that we have been breeding more bad horses than ever before." He noted the emphasis in the industry "must change from breeding horses with the sales ring as a main objective. Breeders must start to prioritise breeding racehorses & winners, which must be of a decent standard. We have to concentrate more on the winning post than the auctioneer's hammer." Bloodstock journalist Bill Oppenheim "continued with this theme, pointing out that over the last decade many new entrants into the industry had been attracted into the business as sellers & not end-users". Several speakers "felt that improvements in prize-money would help to attract people back into racehorse ownership". Other speakers "reiterated the importance of the mare in the breeding equation, coupled with a concerted move away from mediocrity". John Osborne reported his analysis of the statistics of Classic performers, noting "most were out of multiple-winning mares" & concluded "that might be because not only had those mares proved themselves to be sound but they were capable of getting sound & tough racehorses, while also possibly having the genetic potential to produce a top-class runner". While top-class runners "can come out of the left field, statistically that is most improbable". Trickledown Stud's Paul Thorman advised "now is the time to stop breeding to some mares" & "one way to remove some out of the breeding cycle, maybe even for just a year, would be to avoid breeding those yet to have runners or those that have not had a winner from their initial 4 runners".
The Moonee Valley Racing Club announced "an organisational restructure to be implemented over the next 2 months" which will "realign the direction of the MVRC to its core activities, with a greater focus on delivery of quality raceday events & non-raceday functions, & produce a more streamlined & efficient racing club model". MVRC chairman Bob Scarborough announced "a closer working relationship between the MVRC & Racing Victoria through the establishment of a shared services partnership" under which the MVRC "will utilise the resources available through RV for the delivery of racing services, IT support & call centre assistance which will remove significant duplication that currently exists between the Club & our governing body." Scarborough emphasised: "I have long held the view that racing club administrations must be streamlined to deliver optimal returns to all industry participants & this restructure is a major step forward for metropolitan racing in Victoria. This realignment of the direction of the MVRC will provide a greater focus on delivery of exciting racing products with greater emphasis on night racing. As we strive to attract a new audience to thoroughbred racing through our night meetings, it is imperative that we deliver an exciting entertainment experience that will entice these customers to become regular racing enthusiasts." Scarborough added "all existing roles have been reviewed to assess their future within the MVRC business model", resulting in "34 positions from a total of 94 full-time positions being impacted across the 3 key business centres of the MVRC: Racing, Catering/Functions & Legends (MVRC Gaming venue). The new structure will include 11 new positions, some of which will be filled internally & others filled by external candidates, delivering a net reduction of 23 positions."
One of the US's biggest punters Mike Maloney (who bets "about US$10 million a year on races from his Keeneland Race Course base") told Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's Task Force On The Future Of Horse Racing that "the state could increase both the number of horse-players who wager on the state's races & the amount of money wagered by taking the lead on integrity issues," reported thoroughbredtimes.com. Maloney (who serves on a Task Force committee looking into integrity issues like pari-mutuel pool security, equine drug testing standards & enforcement, and backstretch security) attended a US National Thoroughbred Racing Association Marketing Summit in September & was "disappointed to hear little mention of improving integrity". He believes such an initiative "would increase handle more than any idea discussed at that summit, which included ideas such as added emphasis on televised Saturday racing & creating 'horse racing standings'." Maloney summed up: "I look at 2 things: make Kentucky a leader in regulation & oversight, and make Kentucky more friendly with our simulcast signals. That would be the best marketing we could do. I can tell you, and I don't know if the perception is fair or not, but Kentucky is not looked at as a leader in integrity because it has had some lax drug rules in the past." Churchill Downs President Steve Sexton (who serves on the Task Force) said with players like Maloney placing importance on the issue, it is clear action is needed, noting: "We had better be listening because they're our livelihood. Now is the time to act. If our customers are telling us this, we better act on it."
Meanwhile Fasig-Tipton "has restructured its senior management team to include the addition of one of Sheikh Mohammed's key employees in America Dan Pride to the auction firm's executive ranks," reported bloodhorse.com. D.G. Van Clief, Fasig-Tipton's chairman of the board under the company's previous ownership, is the new chairman emeritus "continuing in his non-executive role as a senior advisor". Former president Walt Robertson "assumes the title of chairman & continues in his full-time role with an emphasis on client development, auctioneering & key strategy decision-making". Boyd Browning, formerly executive vice president & chief operating officer, is Fasig-Tipton's new president & chief executive officer & "assumes responsibility for day-to-day operation of the company". Pride (formerly chief operating officer of Sheikh Mohammed's Darley USA) joins Fasig-Tipton as its executive vice president & chief operating officer. Dubai-based Synergy Investments purchased Fasig-Tipton in May; Synergy is headed by Abdulla Al Habbai, a close associate of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed.
Prominent thoroughbred consultant Dan Rosenberg told USA Today "the injury issue is complex", noting: "Yes, we have a problem. Exactly what the problem is, what the causes are & what the solutions might be are not as simple as some people would like." The newspaper explained other questions surrounding breeding include:
When considering whether winning the English Derby "influences future stallion valuations", Marcus Tregoning conceded in The Guardian: "Admittedly you cannot ignore that the emphasis is now on breeding horses for speed rather than stamina. But there are still studs, including the famous Ballymacoll Stud, who breed for stamina & a horse that can go on to win the Derby. And winning the race does prove the horse's quality. Sir Percy won races over a mile & a mile and a half, but he proved himself a champion when he won the Derby & that is why he had a block of mares queuing up for him. And you have to look at Galileo too, the 2001 champion, who has been doing extremely well at stud."
At the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Trade Fair at Goffs, Australian pedigree company Gr1 Goldmine struck a chord with seminar attendees: European Bloodstock News reported "the most popular of the seminars & certainly the highest attended proved to be Pedigree Patterns - Positive & Negative Crosses Working In Ireland". Hosted by Gr1 Goldmine principal Leo Tsatsaronis, the seminar focussed on "sire-line compatibility between mares & stallions, with special emphasis on negative nicks", with an example gleaned from the company's software showing "the negative cross of a Nureyev mare to a Sadler's Wells stallion, while reversing the nick showed a high number of Gr1 winners".
The UK Racing Post asked prominent breeder Dermot Cantillon (manager of Forenaghts Stud, thoroughbred breeders' representative for Horse Racing Ireland & former chairman of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association): "What was the best thing that happened in the bloodstock industry in 2007?" He replied: "That the bloodstock sales figures suffered only a slight reduction." And when asked the "worst thing", Cantillon answered: "The over-emphasis on sires at the foal sales."
Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh warned "some radical measures" are likely to curb the huge increase in balloting from races in Ireland, reported racingpost.co.uk. Kavanagh noted balloting from flat races (from the start of the season in March up to the end of June) was up 43% (from 1,639 last year to 2,348) & declared: "I acknowledge that under the current system, trainers are forced to make multiple entries in the hope of a horse getting a run, but the amount of balloting is simply not sustainable & HRI regards the issue as a very important one which needs to be dealt with. The balloting situation was the subject of a special HRI board meeting last month when possible ways of addressing the problem were addressed. We will be bringing forward proposals to the next board meeting which will be held in Galway early next month. Decisions will be taken & made known later next month." Kavanagh revealed "radical measures" will be required & commented: "HRI does not believe it is appropriate to provide opportunities for every horse in training every time that horse's trainer wants to run, although there will be some increase in the number of fixtures & races, in line with the pattern of recent years. The emphasis will continue to be placed on improving the quality of Irish racing & providing opportunities for horses of a reasonable ability, by progressively removing the worst horses from the system."
On Golden Slipper eve, 4-time winning trainer Lee Freedman (Bint Marscay 1993, Danzero 1994, Flying Spur 1995 & Merlene 1996) stirred the debate over the current breeding emphasis on 2YO speed with a column in The Melbourne Age newspaper declaring the world's richest juvenile race "is so over-funded & so pumped-up by our major breeders that it now almost solely determines our future stallions". With the Slipper (more than any other race on the Australasian calendar) proving a springboard to commercial success in the breeding barn in recent years, Freedman stated: "I find the demise of our classic races as the provider of stallions a little sad & believe we have lost our perspective by breeding too many similar sprinter-miler types. Our breeding industry now has such a reliance on the Slipper that we are no longer enjoying a diverse pool of stallions that can properly feed our classic races & our distance weight-for-age events. The Golden Slipper is so entrenched in this country as the race that makes a stallion that it will take years to change the thinking of the breeding industry. Some studs, mostly those with international roots, do take a more global view with their stallions; but locally, we are in danger of breeding the same sort of horse originating from just a handful of stallions, of which some have similar bloodlines. I have tasted a deal of success in the Golden Slipper myself & while the returns are excellent, the spin-off into the breeding barn is not healthy for the industry, which is keen to take steps internationally. The result of relying on the Golden Slipper to produce our stallions is that our place on the world stage may suffer. . . . . We risk being pigeon-holed as a country that only breeds for speed."
Darley Australia general manager Oliver Tait challenged Conference delegates "to consider ways to stem a tide of breeding & racing mostly for speed" (which he defined as the emphasis on races less than a mile in distance & 2YO racing). He contended this trend is detrimental to the thoroughbred breed if it is detrimental to the sport of racing, adding racing depends on "brave, sound horses" who compete over longer distances & for several seasons to "give it gravitas as a sport". Tait summed up: "By focusing on speed, we're moving away from horses that can possibly fulfill that criteria. We need more horses that are heroes: we need more Makybe Divas & more Deep Impacts." He added racing administrators have the best opportunity to take the lead in reversing the speed trend & reshaping the breed "by offering prize-money in more stamina-oriented races that will encourage owners & breeders to develop horses for those events."
Katrina Partridge, who earlier this year moved to South Africa, has been appointed by Aushorse as their official representative in South Africa. Australian born Partridge migrated from Hong Kong where she was practising law to take up a role as business development manager with Summerhill Stud (2005&2006 Champion Breeder) in South Africa's Kwa-Zulu Natal Province. Over the past three years Aushorse has developed and managed the highly successful International Inward Buyer Scheme's at both the Magic Millions and William Inglis & Son major sales for the purpose of introducing overseas buyers to Australia. Aushorse's principal activity is to promote the development of the Australian thoroughbred breeding and racing industry with a particular emphasis on developing mutually beneficial global relationships with international participants. Aushorse has as its members the leading thoroughbred farms and yearling consignors in Australia.
BBA Ireland's Eamonn Reilly (buying for one of trainer Jim Bolger's owners, who was looking for a long-term breeding prospect) paid 270,000 guineas (A$702,000) for a Galileo-Romana filly (offered for breeder John Connaughton from Jockey Hall Stud). Dam Romana is a half-sister to Cassandra Go & Verglas, & Reilly told racingpost.co.uk: "She will race first, but has the pedigree to become a broodmare & Jim is obviously a fan of Galileo thanks to the likes of Teofilo & Galatee. The market emphasis all the way through the sales this year seems to have been for well-bred fillies. I think people realise they have a residual value, so there is something to fall back on."
Last year 3 yearlings bred by Robert & Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable each sold for US$3 million or more at public auction; but this year, the US yearling market "won't be pumped up by the McNairs' best young stock," reported bloodhorse.com. Stonerside's bloodstock & racing manager John Adger revealed "meeting tax requirements" had been a factor in the Stonerside program's recent commercial emphasis & noted: "We've had 2 big years of selling horses & the McNairs want to keep most of what we think are the best yearlings & race those. We are going to be putting about 40 yearlings in our racing stable for next year. For the next couple of years, the McNairs want to race a lot of home-breds. We are going to take a chance & see if maybe we can come up with another Kentucky Derby horse." The yearlings the McNairs plan to retain include: an A.P.Indy colt out of champion Chilukki; an A.P.Indy filly out of Gr2 winner Sahara Gold (& from the family of Gr1 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Desert Stormer); a Storm Cat colt out of Gr2 winner Star Of Broadway; an Empire Maker filly out of Gr1 winner Rings A Chime; & an Awesome Again half-brother to Gr1 winner Congaree. Stonerside's top selling yearlings of 2005 were: Sahara Heat (a US$3.4 million A.P.Indy-Sahara Gold colt); Black Cat Crossing (a US$3.1 million Storm Cat-Rings A Chime colt); & Hawk Eagle (a US$3 million Storm Cat-Ajina colt).
Meanwhile the Hong Kong Jockey Club purchased 10 yearling colts during the Premier session at the NZB Karaka Sale. HKJC spokesman Mark Player commented: "We were prudent about our buys & went after sound, athletic horses. The emphasis was on buying horses with sires that had a proven track record in Hong Kong. Our concentration was also on buying sprinter-milers." The colts (to be prepared in NZ before shipping to HK for presentation at the International sale in December) were:
In the UK, jockey Gary Carter has been "given the 4-month breathing space he requested before being forced to answer corruption charges," reported racingpost.co.uk. Following a preliminary hearing (designed to agree on a time-table for the case that also involves London-based tailor Chris Coleman & 5 other individuals) the UK Jockey Club Disciplinary Panel set October 24 for the start of the inquiry. The Jockey Club announced in April that "charges previously brought against Carter last year (when he was accused of deliberately losing 8 races during an 8-week period in 2003 for financial gain) had been modified to shift the emphasis to the equally serious charges of corrupt practice & misuse of inside information".