The Weekly Wrap: Time For British Racing To Heed Warnings

Ed Vaughan is to cease training at the end of 2020 | Racing Post

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If we can view Europe's largest training centre of Newmarket as a microcosm of the wider racing world, then events in the last week give a pretty concerning snapshot of the future of the sport.

On the positive front, there was a first winner for the town's newest trainer, Terry Kent, who, at 53, is also one of the longest-serving members of its workforce, having previously been a jockey and worked for trainers Michael Jarvis, Julie Cecil, Saeed Bin Suroor and Roger Varian. Another recent recruit to the training ranks, George Boughey, continued to show his aptitude for the job when Songkran (Ire) (Slade Power {Ire}) completed a hat-trick from just four runs for his stable. We'll hear more about Boughey in a TDN feature later in the week.

Along with the good news came the sad announcement that Ed Vaughan, an extremely popular member of the racing community in Newmarket and beyond, is to relinquish his licence at the end of the season. This news came barely a week after Vaughan had celebrated the biggest win of his career with Dame Malliot (GB) (Champs Elysees {GB}) in the G2 Princess Of Wales's S. and just a day after Miss Chess (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}), a juvenile half-sister to the G1 Prix de Diane winner Fancy Blue (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), had made an extremely promising debut for him at Yarmouth. Then on the day of the announcement Magic J (Scat Daddy) underlined Vaughan's capabilities by pushing his rating into the 90s with victory in a decent Sandown handicap.

Here we have a trainer with decent horses for major owners deciding that training racehorses is no longer a viable business. Vaughan isn't the first to have come to this conclusion and he won't be the last, certainly not in this awful year. But the plight of British racing, and its stakeholders' apparent inability to hold racecourses to account regarding what many of those providing the show believe to be a fair return, is now desperate enough for the cracks to be showing vividly through the paper.

The National Trainers Federation (NTF) was moved to release its own statement later that day which acknowledged Vaughan's success in selling horses on to race abroad in Hong Kong and Australia and calling for a reform to the funding of the sport. It read, “It is all the more sad that such a trainer is being forced to relinquish his licence due to the inadequate levels of prize-money in British racing and the resulting economic pressure on his business. While a successful record of capitalising on the value of British-raced horses in the overseas market is admirable, this should not be a prerequisite for running a sustainable training business in the most highly regarded horseracing industry in the world.

“The funding model of our sport requires two reforms: an improved return on betting turnover; at 0.6% this is by far the lowest of our international competitors. And a revenue sharing agreement with the media rights holders to ensure a fair distribution of the commercial revenue that is jointly created by horsemen and racecourses.”

Ralph Beckett, who is currently president of the NTF, added his personal thoughts on the situation via his website, on which he stated, “I hope that those who are in a position to do something about it, i.e. the racecourses (who receive £1,000 per runner from media rights) and bookmakers, are proud of what they haven't achieved.

“Don't forget Ed made this announcement one week after the biggest success of his 16-year training career. This is a man with no dependants, training successfully for owners who pay their bills on time, who owes no one, and cannot make it pay. He is the proverbial canary in a coalmine.

“One of the things that used to attract people to racing is that no one knew where a good horse would come from. Nowadays, the best horses are in fewer and fewer hands and it is damaging irreparably the sport as a spectacle.”

To further emphasise this point, on Monday morning it transpired that only two stables would be represented through eight potential runners in Saturday's G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. The fact that Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) and Magical (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) are entered guarantees a thrilling contest if both mares stand their ground, and they of course represent the two most powerful stables in Britain and Ireland respectively. But how have we reached a situation where only two stables in the British Isles contain a horse good enough to contest our premier weight-for-age race?

Courses Must Help The Cause
While one does not begrudge the success of the big stables it is hard not to view the growing void between 200-horse yards and smaller outfits, which seem to be ever contracting, as similar to supermarkets and corner shops. Sooner or later the former push the latter out of business. Owners of course have the right to send their horses wherever they wish, and the rise of the 'super yard' in turn provides an awful lot more business for pre-training yards, some of which charge a higher daily rate than many small trainers.

But Beckett's comments about damaging the sport as a spectacle are accurate, and this is why so many people revelled in the July Cup victory of Oxted (GB) (Mayson {GB}) for Roger Teal. It was simply refreshing to be hearing about some different names for a change.

We have come a long way from racing being the 'Sport of Kings' to one of greater inclusivity for a wider range of owners through syndicates. Current COVID-19 restrictions are in the process of being eased further to allow a greater number of racegoers to be in attendance, but the utmost priority must be given to ensuring that all owners can attend with a horse if they wish to do so and, taking sensible precautions, be allowed to convene on course with their trainer and jockey.

This year has been testing but racecourse bosses need to take a longer-term view. Prize-money was already poor before the pandemic and, while many will accept a short-term cut in levels while tracks get back up and running, this cannot be sustained. Owners and smaller breeders leaving the sport—which they will if the situation doesn't improve rapidly—will inevitably lead to smaller race fields and a decline in media rights income for the racecourses.

Calls for unity between the Horsemen's Group and the RCA are well meaning, and of course the united front presented in order for racing to resume ahead of any other sport in Britain shows what can be done, but this must not come at the continuing detriment to the people whose support is at the root of the industry: the owners.

Red In The Black
Four years apart by birth, Red Evie (Ire) and Snow Fairy (Ire) were the standout performers for their sire Intikhab, who died shortly after his retirement at Derrinstown Stud in 2016. The influence of both mares has been felt this season, with Snow Fairy's second foal, Virgin Snow (GB) (Gleneagles {Ire}), winning a fillies' handicap before gaining black type when second in the G3 Hoppings S.

Red Evie had a head start on Snow Fairy and has been mated exclusively with Galileo (Ire). The outstanding Found (Ire), winner of the Arc among her three top-level victories, is the highest achiever of Red Evie's six winners. Found it turn has made a promising start to her own stud career as the dam of this year's Chesham S. winner Battleground (War Front).

With a proliferation of Galileo mares at its disposal, the Coolmore team has made good use of the American-based War Front to provide a successful blend, and another cross with the very best Japan had to offer, Deep Impact (Jpn), also proved fruitful up until his death last year.

Saxon Warrior (Jpn) is the flagbearer for this particular cross but Sunday's Curragh maiden winner Snowfall (Jpn) looks like another we'll be hearing plenty about in future. The 2-year-old filly is the first foal of Found's sister Best In The World (Ire), and if the mare didn't quite live up to her portentous name she was certainly more than useful and posted a listed win at two followed by a Group 3 victory at three.

Snowfall wasn't the only good winner over the weekend to represent the Deep Impact-Galileo cross as Harajuku (Ire) earned herself a TDN Rising Star for her debut success at Chantilly. The Andre Fabre trainee represents the Niarchos family, who were among the first European breeders to patronise Deep Impact and were rewarded for this with the G1 Prix du Jockey Club winner Study Of Man (Ire).

Harajuku is herself from a family which has also been in the news this year as her dam Phaenomena (Ire) is a full-sister to Nightime (Ire), the dam of Ghaiyyath (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}). Furthermore, Harajuku's 4-year-old half-brother King Of Koji (Jpn), by another Shadai resident, Lord Kanaloa (Jpn), won the G2 Meguro Kinen in Tokyo in May. Their 3-year-old sibling Mystical Land (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) is also with Fabre and is entered for a Dieppe maiden on Wednesday.

Don't Stop Believing
Ubettabelieveit (Ire) had originally been entered for the Goffs UK Breeze-up Sale by pinhookers Roger Marley and John Cullinan of Church Farm and Horse Park Stud, who bought the Kodiac (GB) colt for 50,000gns from breeder Ringfort Stud at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Sale. But in a delayed season the youngster was one of a number of horses sold privately and he notched his first win on his second start on the track adjacent to the Goffs UK sales complex the day before the sale eventually took place. He then stepped up a level to win the listed National S. at Sandown last week, with another colt withdrawn from the breeze-ups, Mcmanaman (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), taking third.

Trained by Nigel Tinkler, Ubettabelieveit continued a fine season for Derek and Gay Veitch's Ringfort Stud, which has recently been represented in the winner's enclosure as co-breeders with Paul Hancock of the Cheveley Park Stud-owned Indie Angel (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}). The same breeding combination was also responsible for fellow Newmarket July meeting winner, the 2-year-old Youth Spirit (Ire) (Camelot {GB}), while Ringfort alone bred Mayfair Spirit (Ire) (Charm Spirit {Ire}), who won his sixth race on June 28.

Juvenile winner Rebel At Dawn (Ire) (Dandy Man {Ire}) is another winning Ringfort graduate, as is last year's dual Group 2 winner Threat (Ire) (Footstepsinthesand {GB}), who holds an entry for next week's G1 Qatar Sussex S. at Glorious Goodwood.

Eagles Has Landed
Steve Parkin's Clipper Logistics has become a major force in the owners' ranks and has been represented by 41 runners already this season in Britain. Over the weekend a pair of Group 3 races came Parkin's way via Eagles By Day (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and Queen Jo Jo (GB) (Gregorian (Ire}), whom he owns in partnership with Roger Peel.

Eagles By Day, the first son of Vanessa Hutch's excellent staying mare Missunited (Ire) (Golan {Ire}), has a somewhat different profile to the earlier, faster type of horse with which one usually associates Parkin's all-grey silks. His victory in the John Smith's Silver Cup on his first start for David O'Meara should see him go on to bigger and better things, perhaps even back at Parkin's local track, York, where he is being aimed at either the Ebor or the Lonsdale Cup.

Queen Jo Jo was the first group winner for the hugely likeable Gregorian, who raced 25 times in his four seasons in training with John Gosden and is now back at his breeder Maurice Burns's Rathasker Stud.

Joe Foley and Federico Barberini, who regularly work in tandem at the sales on Parkin's behalf, bought the group-winning duo and it was to Foley's Ballyhane Stud that one of the most exciting runners in the Clipper Logistics silks, Soldier's Call (GB), was retired at the end of last year.

The young sprinter has been well supported in his first season and he will do a good job if he can match the popularity of his stud mate Dandy Man (Ire), who is enjoying another good season. The unbeaten dual group winner Dandalla (Ire) is his flagbearer to date, and on Sunday Dandy Man was responsible for the valuable Weatherbys Super Sprint heroine Happy Romance (Ire), who was the first winner for new owners The McMurray Family. Her trainer Richard Hannon is already eyeing another lucrative pot which will entail a trip to Ireland for the new €320,000 Irish EBF Ballyhane Stud S. The race also carries a bonus of €50,000 if the winner is by a Ballyhane stallion. Joe Foley had better start emptying his piggy bank.

 

 

 

 

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