Newmarket Warren Hill gallop to open on Thursday
The traditional start to the Flat season is to take place as planned in Newmarket on Thursday when the grass canter on Warren Hill will open on the traditional February 1 date.
The marking out of the four-and-a-half-furlong turf facility is more symbolic these days with two all-weather canters available all year round on Warren Hill since the end of the last century.
In times past strings would be queueing up to use the grass facilities after a winter of trotting and light exercise but those days have now gone.
Nick Patton, training grounds manager of Jockey Club Estates, said: "We hope to have the grass canter open on Warren Hill on Thursday where it will be marked out close to the Moulton Road. There's a nice covering of grass for the time of year and hopefully it should ride well. "
Thirsk Hunt Cup switch
Thirsk's loss is Wetherby's gain with the track's popular Totepool Hunt Cup fixture to be staged at Wetherby on May 5, due to a clash with the Tour de Yorkshire.
With the peloton scheduled to come directly through Thirsk town centre on that Saturday, Wetherby will instead stage the fixture in a direct swap, with Thirsk staging Wetherby's fixture on Tuesday, May 8.
Any customers who have already booked their tickets for either fixture are being contacted and offered the opportunity to switch bookings, or to be refunded in full.
New Racing Admin site launching Thursday
From the evening of Wednesday January 31, the original Racing Admin website will be turned off, with its replacement site launching on Thursday, February 1.
Trainers and owners should complete all transactions, including entries and declarations, at the new site; www2.racingadmin.co.uk.
For help with using the system, you can access the help and support site, contact the web support team on 01933 304 828 or email email@example.com.
Peter Casey funeral
The funeral of colourful Grade 1-winning trainer Peter Casey, who died at the age of 82 in the early hours of Saturday morning, will take place at 12 noon at the Church of Assumption, Balscadden, County Meath, on Wednesday.
Casey, best known for his handling of Flemenstar, who won three Grade 1s, is survived by his wife Junie, daughter Alison, sons Francis, Peter and Oliver, grandchildren Samantha, Sam, Cian, Marianne, Caitlin, Kyle and Max, sister Mary, son-in-law Calum, daughters-in-law Paula and Una, sister-in-law Marie, nieces, nephews and extended family.
Casey will be reposing at his home in Stamullen, County Meath, on Tuesday from 2pm to 8pm. The house is strictly private. The burial will take place after the funeral in the Old School Cemetery, Balscadden.
Chester announces prize-money boost
The introduction of the Chester Plate, a consolation race for horses who do not get into the Chester Cup, is part of a £238,000 prize-money boost that will help make the Boodles May festival worth seven figures for the first time in 2018.
The introduction of the £50,000 Plate and a 66 per cent boost to the prize-fund for the Huxley Stakes – making it worth £125,000 to reflect its recently acquired Group 2 status – help lift the total value of the three-day meeting to £1,019,000 from last year's total of £781,000.
"This year’s Boodles May festival is set to be the best yet," said Chester chief executive Richard Thomas, who confirmed the course would continue last year's guarantee that every owner with a runner at the track would leave with at least £500.
"The changes we have implemented across the running order, the increase in prize-money and infrastructure improvements at the racecourse will ensure we deliver a spectacular experience for horsemen, racegoers and viewers alike.
"We have fantastic support from our partners in 2018 and look forward to the start of another season of competitive racing on the Roodee."
Southwell distances reduced
Southwell has announced significantly reduced distances for its jumps meeting next Monday as waterlogged ground on the outside of the bends means that usual rail movements cannot be made.
Races previously advertised as being over 1m 7f 153y will be run over 1m 7f 71y; races billed previously as 2m 4f 62y will be run over 2m3f 182y; and the 3m 1f 129y race will be run over 3m 216y.
Tattersalls renew Irish Guineas weekend deal
The Curragh has confirmed leading bloodstock sales company Tattersalls has agreed to again be the title sponsor of Irish Guineas weekend this May.
The sponsorship will include three Group 1 races – the Irish 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas and the Tattersalls Gold Cup – and the two-day fixture on May 26 and May 27 will be branded as the Tattersalls Irish Guineas Festival
Total prize-money for the Irish 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas has received a major boost with the support of Horse Racing Ireland and Tattersalls with both races increasing from €300,000 €350,000.
Tattersalls Chairman Edmond Mahony said: "The Tattersalls Irish Guineas Festival is the flagship of the Tattersalls global sponsorship portfolio. Our renewed sponsorship at The Curragh demonstrates the Tattersalls commitment to Irish racing and reflects the consistent support we receive at our sales from all sectors of the Irish racing and breeding industry."
Derek McGrath, the Curragh Racecourse CEO, said: "Tattersalls are very valued partners of the Curragh and we are extremely grateful to Edmond Mahony and his team for agreeing again to support three of our premier races in 2018. We look forward to looking at continuing to enhance our partnership to include many new opportunities that our redevelopment project will bring when completed in 2019."