At Royal Randwick in Sydney, multiple Gr1-winning shuttler & former star Australian sprinter Choisir (Danehill Dancer-Great Selection, by Lunchtime) celebrated an elite success when 2YO colt The Mission (Choisir-My Amelia, by Redoute's Choice) led all the way to claim the third leg of the Sydney 2YO Triple Crown – the $500,000 Gr1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) – defeating Invader & Whispered Secret. The Mission improved his record to 2 wins (including the Gr3 The Schweppervesence) and 2 placings from 8 starts for $411,925 earnings. The Mission was a $32,500 purchase by Paul Perry Racing at the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale from the draft of Edinglassie Stud. Trainer Paul Perry said The Mission would be aimed at the Gr1 3YO features in the spring. "I think he will be an ideal horse for races like the Golden Rose and the Caulfield Guineas," Perry said.
At Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, multiple Gr1-winning shuttler & former star Australian sprinter Choisir (Danehill Dancer-Great Selection, by Lunchtime) added a Group success when 2YO colt The Mission scored by 2.5 lengths for trainer Paul Perry in the $150,000 Gr3 The Schweppervesence (1400m) for 2YOs, over fellow 2YO colts Astoria (Medaglia d'Oro-Segue, by Ad Valorem) & Muraahib (Reset-Sultah, by Exceed and Excel). This was the first stakes victory for The Mission who improved his record to 1 win and 1 placing from 6 starts for $106,925 earnings. The Mission was a $32,500 purchase by Paul Perry Racing at the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale from the draft of Edinglassie Stud.
The final field has been declared (16 plus three emergencies) and the barrier draw conducted for the world's richest juvenile race – the $3.5 million Gr1 Golden Slipper (1200m) to be run at Rosehill Gardens this Saturday, 18th March. Boom Queensland filly Houtzen is the current $4.40 tab favourite for the race despite drawing wide in barrier 16. Fellow unbeaten filly She Will Reign also fared poorly, with connections coming up with gate 13. The Gary Portelli-trained filly is second favourite at $5. Next best is Blue Diamond winner Catchy at $7 (barrier 8), followed by Blue Diamond runner-up Pariah at $8 (barrier 4). All other runners are at double figure odds headed by Tulip at $11 (barrier 10). The final field is:
Cambridge trainer Murray Baker has provided the final word on triple Gr1 winner Turn Me Loose (Iffraaj-Indomitable, by Danehill) ahead of his first-up run in tonight's Gr2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley, reports NZ Racing Desk. "Everything's fine with him. He'll run in this race and then go on to the Orr and the Futurity," Baker said, while noting, "Friday's race will probably be too short for him, but the mission is the other two races. He ran fourth in the Orr last year then won the Futurity. He's working well and looks a treat." The Gr1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) is run at Caulfield on 11 February, a fortnight before the Gr1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at the same track. The Australia Stakes will be a star-studded affair with the likes of Gr1 winners Black Heart Bart, Palentino, Flamberge, Malaguerra, and up-and-coming types such as Chetwood and Winx's half-brother El Divino all entered for the $200,000 feature.
John Messara also responded to the suggestion he may have a conflict of interest in accepting the role as chairman of Racing NSW because he is also the head of Arrowfield Stud. He told The Sydney Morning Herald: "The fact I have been involved in all facets of our industry, racing, breeding, I've got a training centre, sponsorship, fitted me very well for this job. I've a huge swathe of contacts at all levels; over the years I've built a very strong network of contacts & relationships both locally & internationally. They are going to be of great assistance. While I think the challenges are big, I thought the opportunities were very exciting. I'm full of ideas on how to improve the lot of racing in NSW & I'm looking forward to discussing those ideas with the executive & with my colleagues on the board." And The Daily Telegraph noted Messara "was at pains to point out his chairmanship of the new Racing NSW board will not be a dictatorship" & emphasised: "I'm not running off my own agenda. I've got an opportunity to work with some wonderfully talented people on this board & Racing NSW already has an outstanding executive team led by Peter V'landys & their input is vital. There is no conflict; I'm absolutely at one with the racing industry. I've got the confidence to invest in this sport in a very large way & I'm extremely well qualified to know the difficulties facing participants, our trainers, jockeys and owners. I'm in tune with all of that. All I want to do is improve the lot of participants in NSW - that is not a conflict, that is part of the mission statement of Racing NSW!"
Australian Officials Take Note: Also in New York, regulators “are creating a panel of racing fans to help provide new ideas to pump life into the state’s struggling thoroughbred industry” reported bloodhorse.com. The mission of the 5-member Racing Fan Advisory Council will be “to help regulators figure out ways to increase racing’s fan base, as well as to incorporate procedures to ensure that the opinion of the fan is a central part of the regulation of horse racing”.
In France, former Haras d'Etreham head Marc de Chambure "has been handed the mission of developing Arqana's business abroad" reported racingpost.com. De Chambure "already holds positions on the Arqana board as vice-president & breeders' representative"; he will "further his involvement within the management as Vice President in charge of international development.
In Kentucky, "an update of the Comprehensive Plan For Fayette County has attracted heightened interest from the local horse industry, which has formed the Fayette Alliance to protect farmland," reported bloodhorse.com. At issue is the "possible expansion of the Urban Services Area boundary to allow for future development" on the 128,000 acres outside Lexington's Uurban Services Area. Fayette Alliance organiser & former director of the Blue Grass Conservancy (which protects thousands of acres in Fayette & surrounding counties) Margaret Graves declared: "This decision is important to the thoroughbred industry. The farmland in Fayette County is what makes it such a special place to live." Fellow Fayette Alliance member & Darby Dan Farm managing partner John Phillips added: "This is our factory floor. In order for it to operate efficiently, we need to maintain the critical mass. Suburban sprawl intrudes upon our factory floor & there's incremental erosion to that floor. The mission of the Fayette Alliance is to educate Fayette County of the importance of the industry, its importance to the economy & the importance to the welfare of the community as a whole. Obviously, thoroughbreds play a major part in that process."
In the US, Keeneland Race Course's board of directors "approved a project to overhaul the main track with a Polytrack surface that is wider & longer in circumference than the current dirt surface," reported thoroughbredtimes.com. Keeneland "plans to have the track ready in time for its October meet, which would make the Lexington facility the 3rd in North America to race on Polytrack"; Turfway Park installed the surface in September 2005 & Canada's Woodbine plans to race on Polytrack beginning in September. Keeneland president Nick Nicholson commented: "With these renovations & improvements, we hope to have one of the safest & most modern racetracks in the world. Our track has not changed much since it was laid out & constructed using mules prior to our 1st race meeting in 1936. We believe that by taking advantage of the latest cutting-edge advancements & creating the safest racing possible, we further the mission outlined by our founders to build a model racetrack."