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Lester Piggott still in hospital as doctors conduct tests

Lester Piggott: doctors are monitoring his condition
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Lester Piggott, who was admitted to hospital in London over the weekend, remains there while doctors monitor his condition.

His daughter Maureen Haggas said on Wednesday: “He’s still in hospital, and is having some tests. We’ll see how we go.”

The legendary former jockey, who is 83, won nine Derbys at Epsom and about 5,300 races worldwide.

Towcester loses January fixture as future remains uncertain

Towcester, which went into administration in August and is in the process of having its future resolved, has lost its jumps meeting scheduled for January 3, the BHA said on Thursday.

The fate of the troubled track, which also hosted greyhound racing, will not be known until the new year and last month a company linked to course chairman Lord Hesketh bought the assets required for racing from administrators KPMG.

However, racing will not take place on January 3, when the venue was due to host a BHA-leased fixture.

In a statement, the BHA, which offered the meeting to other racecourses but received no applications, said: "This is the only fixture of this type that was due to be staged at Towcester in 2019 and the BHA will continue to work with Towcester's owners regarding the racecourse’s upcoming fixtures and the longer-term status of the course."

Down Royal documentary on BBC

The Horsey Set, a three-part documentary showing racing at Down Royal, will be broadcast this Friday on BBC1 Northern Ireland at 7.30pm.

The first 30-minute episode, in which Clare Balding guides viewers through the behind-the-scenes action at Down Royal, will show the opening day of the racecourse's summer festival meeting. The episode will be repeated on BBC2 Northern Ireland at 6.30pm the following day.

The second and third episodes, which will be shown later this month, will focus on Ulster Derby day and the start of the National Hunt season at the County Down track.

Ex-riders over 50 asked to volunteer in integral concussion research

Former jockeys are being encouraged to take part in a research project run to study how concussion can affect riders in their later lives.

The International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation (ICHIRF) is conducting tests to help figure out whether suffering a concussion can lead to depression, memory loss and confusion to riders.

Racing icon Bob Champion took part in the study and said: "Currently we don’t know how concussion might affect the brain as we age, and because of my concussions, I do worry about my future brain health, and what life may look like in years to come. 

"I have seen jockeys and other sportspeople that have had bangs on their head, and as they have aged some change, particularly with experiencing bad balance and forgetfulness.

“This research is important for horseracing, as it’s the first of its kind, and the results should provide a deeper understanding of concussion and its long-term affect on the brain."

The project is looking for professional or amateur riders and equestrian riders aged over 50 to take part in the study. Visit for more information.

Mark Johnson new Jersey Race Club president

Commentator Mark Johnson has been voted in as the Jersey Race Club president, the first non-resident to take the role in the club's history.

Johnson first commentated on the island on Jersey Derby day in 1991 and has been the regular race caller at Les Landes for the last 15 years.

He has also been on the race committee for the last four years under the presidency of Tony Taylor, an owner with Oliver Sherwood and Jamie Osborne whose Jersey Bean won at Newbury last month.

Johnson said: “My job in the immediate future is to try to ensure that all that is good and unique about Jersey racing continues, while not letting possible financial lifelines for the local sport, created by opportunities in media rights and off-island betting, drip away untapped.

"I firmly believe racing at Les Landes is the greatest show on Jersey. It would be great if more people, both local and abroad, could experience it."

Ian Penrose takes advisory role at Weatherbys

Former Arena Leisure chief executive Ian Penrose has been taken on by Weatherbys in the role of senior business adviser.

Penrose, who was previously chief executive of gambling technology business Sportech, is also an adviser to the Alizeti Group, which has bought a stake in the Tote.

Weatherbys chairman Johnny Weatherby said: "Ian’s experience, knowledge and contacts will prove invaluable to the business and we look forward to him working with our team."

Penrose added: "I have known Johnny and the Weatherbys business for many years. I'm delighted to be able to work with the team as they prepare for the next stage in the development of an organisation that has been at the heart of racing and breeding for over two centuries."

Death of John Yardley

John Yardley, the former amateur rider and Worcestershire-based trainer, has died aged 75.

Yardley, who suffered from Parkinson's, began training at Daneswood Farm near Droitwich in 1978, with Newbury and Cheltenham winner Nevada Gold his flagship horse in a 19-year career.

Nigel Tinkler, who along with Andrew Thornton and Clive Cox rode for Yardley in the 1990s, said: "I rode for John when I was about 19 or 20. He was a very loyal and supportive man.

"We kept in touch over the years and I went to see him not too long ago. It's very sad. I've always had huge respect for him."

Yardley's training career finished in 1997, when he received a 27-month sentence for a £695,000 VAT fraud. The fraud was relating to his Maltsword group of companies, one of which owned Nevada Gold.

RoR finalists unveiled

The list of nominees in the running for the accolade of 2018 RoR Horse of the Year has been whittled down to the final four.

They are 18-year-old Lampos, owned and ridden by Jolene Midgely; 15-year-old Billybo, owned and ridden by Claire Griffiths; Stuart Nie’s 14-year-old eventer and showjumper Ponte Vecchio; and 15-year-old Monkerty Tunkerty, who has been in the care of Jess Westwood for both his racing and post-racing career.

The winner of the award, sponsored by the Jockey Club, will be announced at the annual RoR Awards evening on December 12 at the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket. 

RoR chief executive Di Arbuthnot said: “Each of the finalists is a wonderful advert for the versatility of the thoroughbred and for RoR itself.”

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The legendary former jockey, who is 83, won nine Derbys at Epsom and about 5,300 races worldwide
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