The Weekly Wrap: Racing at the Ready

The presence of Victor Ludorum will give French racing a lift as it returns to ParisLongchamp | Scoop Dyga


European racing authorities are doubtless looking on with interest as Germany prepares to stage its first post-lockdown race meeting. That should have been on Monday, but a late intervention owing to a delayed government decision regarding the resumption of sporting fixtures, meant that on Saturday Dortmund was forced to call off its first race meeting. All eyes are now on Hannover, which has a 12-race card scheduled on Thursday with 189 entries.

The easing of lockdown restrictions began in Germany on Apr. 20 and, in common with the phased approach which will be implemented in other countries, schools reopened on Monday, May 4, while bars, cafes, restaurants and cinemas remain closed and large gatherings are banned. In the meantime the German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to hold a meeting with ministers on Tuesday at which they will discuss the resumption of sports, including German football's Bundesliga.

The grey area now faced by a number of countries is whether or not racing falls under the auspices of sport or agriculture. The French racing authorities have successfully claimed the latter, and racing behind closed doors will begin again on May 11. In German law, racing is allowed to proceed under an act pertaining to animal breeding, whereby racing is regarded as performance tests for the Thoroughbred breed. Hopefully this will ensure that Hannover can proceed on Thursday with a meeting which includes three listed contests.

Friday evening's announcement by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland's phased easing of lockdown cast some doubt over a hoped-for racing resumption of May 18. It remains unclear whether Irish racing will come under the first phase of restrictions lifted or the third. If it's the latter, then racing cannot return until June 29. Understandably, Horse Racing Ireland is urgently seeking clarification on this point.

In Britain, meanwhile, hopes seem to be rising that a May 15 resumption of racing behind closed doors will be achieved. The British Horseracing Authority last week issued a revised programme for Pattern and listed races should this restart date be met. It includes staging the Guineas meeting and the Derby meeting in early June and July respectively, with Royal Ascot between the two in its normal slot.

In Italy, the first country to enforce a national lockdown, no specific date has yet been set but an essay released last week by ANAC, the Italian Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, was optimistically titled 'The light at the end of the tunnel'.

The article was written by racing and bloodstock journalist Gabriele Candi of Mondo Turf, who told TDN, “Like in France, here in Italy they consider racing to be agriculture and not sport, but we don't have enough support in government and this is a big problem.

“We are asking our Ministry of Agriculture to push for the resumption of horse racing and we hope that will be from May 10 or 11. The lockdown stops on May 4 but the politicians are nervous about what will happen if we begin again and then there are new cases [of coronavirus]. All the racecourses have drafts ready for the new programme and the Classic races but for now we must wait for the date to restart.”

To The Victor
Despite a pretty consistent level of success since he retired to stud, it's fair to say that 2019 was the annus mirabilis for Shamardal, with his trio of unbeaten Group 1-winning colts Pinatubo (Ire), Victor Ludorum (Ire) and Earthlight (Ire), as well as a Poule d'Essai des Pouliches victrix Castle Lady (Ire) and a Royal Ascot Group 1 double from Blue Point (Ire).

Nobody could have predicted the extraordinary situation we now find ourselves in, with the current racing suspension in Britain meaning that Pinatubo was denied a chance to line up for the 2000 Guineas on its rightful weekend last Saturday, just a handful of weeks after his sire was euthanised at Kildangan Stud at the age of 18.

Some better news came on Monday with the announcement that France Galop had secured the permission for racing to go ahead at ParisLonchamp on Monday, when it is hoped that we will see the return of the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Victor Ludorum.

The Andre Fabre-trained colt is penciled in for one of the day's two Classic trials, the G3 Prix de Fontainebleau, which has been won in two of the last three years by Brametot (Ire) and Persian King (Ire), both of whom went on to win the Poule d'Essai des Poulains.

Rainbow Raising a Pot of Gold
There have been plenty of examples in recent weeks of how the racing world is doing its bit to support various charities during the coronavirus crisis, and trainer Rebecca Menzies has hit on a novel idea which should also help to share the joy of racehorse ownership with a new crowd.

Menzies, based at Sedgefield in County Durham, initially launched a competition via her Facebook page to name a 2-year-old Camacho (GB) filly in her care. A feature of British lockdown has been the Thursday evening 'Clap For Carers' and the proliferation of rainbow posters in support of the NHS, which in turn inspired the filly's name Rainbow Applause (Ire).

“There were a lot of NHS-related suggestions and when we started getting those sorts of names through we started to think we could actually do something quite creative with this, and so we put together a racing club,” said the trainer, who has had more than 200 people sign up for the Rainbow Applause NHS Charity Racing Club in a little over a week. Membership pledges have so far raised more than £20,000, and all profits from the club and prize-money earned by the filly will be donated to NHS charities.

She continued, “We were able to get sponsorship and the John Wade Group agreed to cover her costs, so everything else that comes through from the membership goes straight to the charity. Our vets Baker McVeigh have agreed to do all the routine work for the year for free, Cam Hardie, the jockey who will be riding her, has said that he will donate his fee every time he rides her to the NHS. We've also had support from our farrier, who is shoeing her for nothing for the year, Equine Products have donated their supplements, and Bluegrass Horse Feeds have said they will feed her for the year.

“We've launched a second competition to design the silks that she's going to run in, and Weatherbys and the BHA have kindly waived the £5,000 fee for bespoke colours, and Allertons are donating a set of racing colours.”

The trainer bought Rainbow Applause as a yearling from her breeder Micheal Orlandi of Ireland's Clongiffen Stud.

“We did a bit of a deal because she only has one eye and she was a bit small,” she said. “We got her broken in and I didn't have particularly high hopes for her but we turned her out after Christmas and she just grew and grew. She's actually turned into a really nice-looking filly, so God willing she'll be able to do the job.”

Once racing resumes and eventually people are allowed to return to racecourses, Rainbow Applause may yet play her part in creating some new racing fans.

Menzies added, “I never thought we would get that many people interested but it's been really good. On our website there is a gift option and you can write a personalised message in the box. A lot of doctors, nurses and frontline workers have been bought club membership as gifts. It's been quite amazing really, to read some of the messages that people have written. I hope eventually we will be bringing a lot of people racing with us who might not normally go.”

The Future's Bright
When Le Havre (Ire) retired from racing in 2009 after winning the Prix du Jockey Club, offers were made for the son of Noverre to stand at stud in Japan. His owner Gerard Augustin-Normand demurred and decided instead to keep him in France at Haras de la Cauviniere, now Haras de Montfort & Preaux, and set about buying some decent mares with which to support him.

From Le Havre's first crop came the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and Prix de Diane winner Avenir Certain (Fr), and two years later another daughter, La Cressonniere (Fr), completed the same Classic double. Both fillies were trained by the man who also oversaw Le Havre's career, Jean-Claude Rouget, and raced for Augustin-Normand in partnership with Antonio Caro. And, while their sire stayed put in France, both fillies have been exported to Japan since retirement and now reside at Teruya Yoshida's Shadai Farm, as does La Cressonniere's dam Absolute Lady (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}).

On Sunday, Avenir Certain's first foal, Des Ailes (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) kept a clean sheet when winning the second race of her career, the listed Sweetpea S., a trial for the GI Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) on May 24. Trained by Yasuo Tomomichi, she races for the Shadai Race Horse Co. Ltd., and Yoshida is not short of members of her family. After he purchased Absolute Lady, she remained in France for a time and foaled another two full-siblings to Le Havre, Sunny Cherbourg (Fr), a 3-year-old colt, who made his debut at Hanshin at the end of March, and a filly who is now two. The mare also has a yearling colt by Deep Impact (Jpn) and was covered last year by Just A Way (Jpn).

Her daughter La Cressonniere (Fr) also spent her first few years at stud in Europe and has a 2-year-old colt by Shalaa (Ire) and a yearling colt by Golden Horn (GB). She was then sent to Epiphaneia (Jpn), who recently notched his first Classic winner with Daring Tact (Jpn) in the G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas).

Following in the wake of Des Ailes, her dam Avenir Certain also has a yearling filly by Deep Impact and was covered by the late champion in his final, abbreviated season last year.

Vale Johnny Bradburne
Scottish racing lost one of its most popular personalities last week with the death of Johnny Bradburne at the age of 74.

A hugely successful amateur rider, Bradburne was also a great support to his wife Sue throughout her training career, though they had been rivals in the saddle, often riding against each other. Sue Bradburne, who trained Grand National runner-up Blue Charm (Ire), died in March 2019.

The Bradburne family is as respected as it is well known in National Hunt circles, with Johnny, Sue and their children Mark and Lorna all having ridden winners under Rules. They achieved the rare feat of Johnny riding against both of his children in a bumper at Ayr, with all three horses trained by Sue.

Lorna, who is now married to Harry Fowler, trains at their family farm in Ireland and has been represented this season by the promising young homebred mare Politesse (Ire). She said, “My father was the epitome of Corinthian spirit. He enjoyed his best riding days well into his 40s, which is extraordinary, and he and my mother were an amazing team, with her training and him riding.”


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