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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

All change at Fontwell and Brighton as clerk O'Meara heads to Ireland

Fontwell: clerk of the course Tracey O'Meara is moving on
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Tracey O’Meara, clerk of the course at Fontwell and Brighton, is moving to Ireland where she will be responsible for four tracks.

The 34-year-old is joining the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board after Fontwell’s Southern National meeting on November 18.

O’Meara who took over at Fontwell and Brighton last year after a spell as a racing executive at Lingfield, said: “I don’t know what tracks I’ll be doing yet, but it’s a step up and I’m excited about it.

“Working here has been a great learning curve. You couldn’t get two more unique tracks and we had a wet winter and then a hot summer to deal with.”

Originally from Waterford in Ireland, O’Meara worked on racedays at Tramore for ten years before moving to Britain. Her replacement at the Arc-owned tracks has not been named.

Phoenix snap up Breeders' Cup Classic contender 

Fresh from outgunning Coolmore for a €3.2 million sister to Oaks winner Forever Together at the Goffs Orby Sale, big-spending owners Phoenix Thoroughbreds have further bolstered their ranks through the purchase of Breeders' Cup Classic contender Axelrod.

Axelrod, a 33-1 shot for the Breeders' Cup Classic, was runner-up to Mckinzie in the Pennsylvania Derby on his most recent outing and will remain with California-based trainer Michael McCarthy.

"He’s a nice horse strong horse with a big stride," said Tom Ludt, head of equine operations for Phoenix Thoroughbreds, who have enjoyed high-profile success in Britain this season with Signora Cabello and Advertise. "We’re looking at running him in the Breeders' Cup Classic but all options are open as far as his next start is concerned."

The market for the Classic, which takes place at Churchill Downs on November 3, is headed by wide-margin Pacific Classic winner Accelerate at 3-1.

Death of Jeannine Macmillan

Jeannine Macmillan, who since 1982 had worked with the racing author and bookseller Rupert Mackeson, has died aged 66 after a long illness.

Mackeson said: "Jeannine was very well known and liked in racing circles. She was a great favourite of Sir Peter O'Sullevan's. She lived near him in London, helped with his secretarial work and walked his beloved poodle a lot."

Her funeral is on Saturday at 2pm at Treswithian Downs Crematorium, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 0BL.

Tramore fire

Two blocks of temporary stables at Tramore racecourse were destroyed by fire on Thursday evening.

Speaking on Frday morning, Sue Phelan, general manager at Tramore, said: "A total of 12 stables were destroyed in the space of 15 minutes around 7pm last night. We had the fire brigade and the Gardai here and the incident is being investigated.

"We've been refurbishing our stableyard and had the temporary stables in use as a back-up for our August meeting. We hope to have all the main stables roofed and ready for our next fixture on October 18."

She added: "The damage done by the fire amounts to about €20,0000. It's very frustrating but we'll just have to soldier on."

Sheikh Mohammed recognised by Newmarket town council

Sheikh Mohammed is to be sent a letter of thanks by Newmarket Town Council for his support of several projects in the town, including the redevelopment at Newmarket Academy.

Earlier this year, the sheikh's wife Princess Haya paid a personal visit to the school in advance of a £1 million scheme to open a new library at the site off the Exning Road.

Councillors discussed how to mark the sheikh's increasingly close ties with Newmarket at a special meeting. Mayor Rachel Hood said: "The meeting was to discuss how we should thank Sheikh Mohammed. The council voted unanimously to send him a letter marking our immense gratitude."

Newmarket Academy was refurbished last summer after a donation from the Godolphin founder, who also contributed £250,000 to a Beacon education project in conjunction with Newmarket racecourse a couple of years ago.

Hood added: "Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya are passionate about education for young people and it's great that their incredible generosity is already paying off. The gratitude of many of speakers was very apparent and it is of phenomenal importance to our community. We recognise that our children have benefited immensely from Sheikh Mohammed's generosity."

Grand National weights ceremony to be held in Liverpool

The road to Grand National victory will be slightly less long and winding this season as it will start and finish in Liverpool. To mark the 100th anniversary of the race returning to Aintree after a First World War transfer to Gatwick, the traditional weights ceremony will be held in the city itself, rather than in London.

The weights, to be framed by BHA chase team leader Martin Greenwood following the retirement of senior handicapper Phil Smith, will be unveiled at the Cunard Building on the waterfront on February 12.

John Baker, Aintree managing director, said: "We’re delighted to bring the Randox Health Grand National weights lunch home for the first time ever."

Ryan Winks operated on after heavy Sedgefield fall

Ryan Winks underwent an operation on neck and back injuries on Wednesday following his fall at Sedgefield.

He is in the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough and his father Peter said: "He's done the third and sixth vertebrae and they're screwing a bone in his neck back together.

"He had his operation this morning and they've told me it has gone well, so hopefully everything is all right. I don't know how long he'll be in hospital for."

Winks was riding his father's Presenting Streak when he suffered the injury in a first-flight fall on Tuesday.

New senior medical officer appointed

Jennifer Pugh will take up the position of senior medical officer with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on January 1, succeeding Adrian McGoldrick who retires from the role at the end of the year.

Pugh, a general practitioner in Kildare for the past eight years, joined the Turf Club, now the IHRB, in 2012, and has been a point-to-point medical officer since 2003. She is also responsible for providing doctors for race meetings at Punchestown.

A former amateur rider, she was champion female point-to-point rider in 2008-09. 

Commenting on her appointment, Pugh said:“I am delighted and honoured to have been selected as the senior medical officer for the IHRB having been involved in horseracing all of my life.

"It is a privilege to succeed Dr Adrian McGoldrick, under whose tenure the IHRB has become an international leader for rider health and safety standards. I look forward to working with the IHRB and the wider racing industry to provide the very best care possible for our riders into the future."

Denis Egan, chief executive of the IHRB, said:“We are thrilled to have a person of Jennifer’s experience and knowledge to replace Adrian. As a former rider Jennifer really understands the challenges faced by riders. I have no doubt Jennifer will continue to enhance the services and supports that the IHRB provide to riders, which are among the best in the world thanks to the efforts of Dr Adrian McGoldrick and his team."

Better news on Stromboni

Trainer Yannick Fouin has reported a slight improvement in the condition of jockey Thomas Stromboni after his life-threatening heavy fall at Auteuil on Saturday.

Writing on his Facebook page, Fouin said: "We have just learned that Thomas is improving. He is waking up and things are going the right way. There remains a long way to go, so let’s stay calm, but this really is heartwarming news."

The 20-year-old jockey was attended to on the track by course medics and an emergency services crew for more than an hour before being moved to the specialist trauma centre at the Pitie-Salpetriere.

Stromboli was in a coma when taken away from Auteuil and was reported to have suffered cardiac arrest while lying on the track, after the fall from Quick Beauty.

Stromboli has ridden six winners this year out of a total of 16 career successes.

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It’s a step up and I’m excited about it
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