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Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Star US filly Songbird retired

Songbird: winner of 13 of her 15 races
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An opportunity to join some of Britain’s leading brands by sponsoring a series of point-to-point races has become available for the 2017-18 season.

The series, which has been successfully backed in recent years by car manufacturer Subaru, has become available following a review of their marketing programme as a result of adverse exchange rate conditions.

Subaru’s sponsorship involved support for races across the season and around Britain, climaxing with a hunters’ chase final at Stratford in May/June, but a series to suit the needs of a new sponsor can be tailored to individual plans.

Clare Hazell, chief executive of the Point-to-Point Authority, said: “We are hugely disappointed to lose Subaru UK’s sponsorship and will be forever grateful to Paul Tunnicliffe and the team at Subaru UK for their support of the sport. We wish them well in the future.

“The chance to engage with this fantastic sport and the tens of thousands of people who follow it is a great opportunity for a new sponsor.”

For further information about sponsorship of the restricted race championship, contact Becci Thompson on 01793 781990 or email

So long Songbird

Star US filly Songbird, winner of 13 of her 15 races, has been retired, owner Rick Porter announced on Facebook on Thursday.

The four-year-old suffered the second of just two career defeats at Saratoga on Saturday and it came to light afterwards that both of her hind suspensory ligaments had become enlarged.

"Unfortunately, the results weren't what we wanted to see," said Porter. "We have a situation where it'd be dangerous for Songbird to continue training."

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird won her first 11 races including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2015 by nearly six lengths. 

She met with defeat for the first time against Beholder, another great mare, in a memorable match at last year's Breeders' Cup. She retired with career earnings of over £3million ($4,692,000).

Evening fixtures to be changed in 2018 to shadow calendar

The BHA revealed on Thursday that changes have been made in the 2018 fixture list to prevent situations like Friday, which has no evening meeting as it is September 1 but did in previous years when it fell in August.

It is well known that September 1 is the end date for evening turf fixtures in Britain, which has led to some meetings switching between mid-April and late-August, depending on the calendar. That will no longer be the case from next year.

BHA's head of racing Paul Johnson said: "From the 2018 fixture list process onwards, the period for evening turf racing will run from the Friday after the Craven Meeting to the Friday before the Sprint Cup, rather than a defined date period in the calendar.

"This is to minimize the need for the movement of fixtures which can fall outside the defined period due to calendar fluctuations and to ensure the fixture list remains fully optimised in the transitional period between evening turf and twilight fixtures."

The changes have been in place since the 2018 fixture list was published but were not one of the main talking points to emerge from its publication.

Next year's Sprint Cup will take place on September 8, so turf evening fixtures will continue until September 7. On the other hand, evening racing on the turf will begin five days later, on April 20.

Tudhope hoping to be back on Friday

Jockey Danny Tudhope hopes to return to the saddle on Friday after he was unseated from the fatally injured Wild Approach at Catterick on Wednesday.

Tudhope had been taken to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough for scans on Wednesday but, with those clear, he is recuperating before returning to race-riding.

His agent Laura Way said on Thursday: "They let Danny out of hospital last night, all his scans came back clear. He isn't riding today because he's quite sore and, while we're taking it one day at a time, we're hoping he'll be back riding tomorrow."

The rider, currently third in the jockeys' championship with 73 wins, had been down to ride three at Chelmsford on Thursday. He is booked on six at Thirsk on Friday.

Spencer expands after Royal Ascot win

Royal Ascot winning trainer Richard Spencer is to be a bigger player in Newmarket next year after taking on a second yard close to his base at Albert House Stables.

The 28-year-old is leasing the 30-box Cadland House Stables from former trainer Mick Ryan which lies barely 200 yards along the Moulton Road from his yard where he began training from last year.

Spencer enjoyed a dream start to his fledgling career when Rajasinghe won the Group 2 Coventry Stakes in June and he is hoping this latest expansion will open up his team to owners other than from his main backers Rebel Racing.

He said: "Albert House is a great yard but it only has 23 boxes and we needed a few more and it was great that Mr Ryan has agreed to lease us his premises as it's only over the road and it should be easy to run the two yards together.

"In recent years, I think Robyn Brisland used it and before that I think it was an overflow yard for William Haggas."

Last year, Spencer's main sponsor Phil Cunningham bought Swynford Paddocks Stud in nearby Six Mile Bottom as a livery/stud venue for the operation and this will also remain part of Spencer's plans.

He said: "We'll still use the stud to give horses a break but this new yard will enable us to have more in training at one time. It's an exciting development for us looking ahead to 2018."

Hambling returns from Australia

Apprentice jockey Natalie Hambling has returned from a four-month stint working in Australia and had a winner on her first ride back at Carlisle on Tuesday.

She stands by what she said originally in terms of female riders getting plenty more opportunities in Australia.

"The girls are continuing to fly out there and it is much easier for them to get going. I have had to come back due to personal reasons combined with a bit of homesickness, but regret nothing."

Hambling has given the female allowance for female riders in France little thought but will not be considering a switch herself.

"I think it's a bit counter productive to be honest. Racing is a sport where men and women can be equal and it would be a shame to take a step backwards by bringing anything like it in here," said Hambling.

Bet365 sign three-year Fillies' Mile deal

Bet365 have been announced as the new sponsor of the Group 1 Fillies' Mile at Newmarket on October 13, the highlight of the first day of the Dubai Future Champions Festival, in a deal which covers the next three runnings.

The firm are already the official betting partners of the Moet & Chandon July meeting at Newmarket and sponsored the three-day Craven meeting for the first time in April.

"The Group 1 Fillies Mile is bet365’s first Group 1 sponsorship, and we hope the race lives up to its usual expectations by providing contenders for the 2018 fillies' Classics," said bet365 managing director Steve Ibberson.

Slattery star Creggs retired

Creggs Pipes, winner of the Group 2 Lanwades Stud Stakes at the Curragh in May, has been retired after amassing €263,130 in prize-money.

Trainer Andy Slattery took the decision after she was found to be lame following a piece of work at the Curragh last week.

The five-year-old won seven of her 23 outings and was being aimed at the Matron Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend, but a new career as a broodmare is now awaiting her, and her first rendezvous will be with Fastnet Rock.  

"Creggs Pipes was a superstar for me and put me on the map," said Slattery. "She was a once-in-a-lifetime type of mare we'll never see the like of again. She was so brave and never let you down. 

"She worked really well at the Curragh last week but was lame afterwards. Her near-fore flared up; the same injury as she'd had before."

Wild West conquers new frontier

Wild West, who never raced for Aidan O'Brien and never won for Jonjo O'Neill, breached a new frontier as a retired racehorse on Sunday when he was crowned supreme champion at the Retraining of Racehorses national championships.

The nine-year-old, ridden side-saddle by Lizzie Harris, landed the ROA and Goffs UK-sponsored title after six days of competition at the Aintree International Equestrian Centre, which concluded with Sunday's gala awards ceremony during which it was announced that 2016 RoR Horse of the Year Monet's Garden has been retired from showing.

Wild West is a son of Galileo who was initially in training at Ballydoyle before moving to O'Neill, where he raced in the ownership of JP McManus but retired after seven starts.

RoR chief executive Di Arbuthnot said: “It’s been a wonderful week and the standard throughout has been very high. All the judges I spoke to commented on the improvement they are seeing from both horses and riders year-on-year."

HRI launches new ownership website

Horse Racing Ireland have launched a stand-alone website dedicated to the promotion of racehorse ownership which could pave the way to a new era of tech savvy owners who have become tired with the old paper-based models of registering.

The website provides potential owners with all they need to know in relation to taking the first steps into racehorse ownership.

The key features include searching potential trainers by location and cost; a design application to view selected racing colours; an information section for potential owners based outside of Ireland and details on membership opportunities for various racing syndicates and clubs.

HRI have stressed that this is the first phase of the website and additional interactive features will be added over the coming months.

Amber Byrne, HRI owner recruitment manager, said: “One of the key pieces of feedback from the HRI owner survey in 2016 was the need for additional information to be available to owners starting out.

“This is the first stand-alone website HRI has introduced solely for racehorse owners. The new website acts as a single on-line information source with a wealth of material displayed in an easy to read format.

“While new and existing owners can, of course, always contact us directly we hope will become an important promotional asset for the industry.”

We have a situation where it'd be dangerous for Songbird to continue training
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