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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Francome and Scott join Leger winner Baker to launch his autobiography

George Baker at Wednesday's Oaksey House launch of his autobiography, joined by John Francome, writer Tom Peacock and Brough Scott
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The Injured Jockeys Fund's Oaksey House on Wednesday evening played host to the launch of retired rider George Baker's autobiography, Taking My Time.

Brough Scott and John Francome gave the speeches charting Baker remarkable story – his weight issues, victory in the 2016 St Leger and then the St Moritz accident in February 2017 that ended his career and almost his life.

Baker said: "It’s very fitting the launch is being held at Oaksey House, where I spent so much time recovering, and I can’t thank all the people in racing enough for what they have done for me. Writing this book with Tom Peacock was really therapeutic and I hope that people will enjoy reading my story.”

Taking my Time is available priced £20.

Signed copies of the book are also available at Oaksey House.

Staxton given prime stall in Ayr Gold Cup

Tim Easterby could be in a strong position for Saturday's William Hill Ayr Gold Cup as Staxton was first out of the hat in Thursday's live draw for the race.

Easterby chose stall eight, which has housed the last two winners of the race when staged at Ayr, with last year's contest taking place at Haydock following drainage issues at Ayr.

He also plumped for low options with his other two chances, Flying Pursuit (three), Golden Apollo (four) and said: "There is the odd soft patch so that was my preference. I was very happy with the draw."

The stands' side was unpopular at the draw, with most of the high-numbered boxes left until the end.

Michael Dods, who chose stall 16 for Get Knotted, reasoned: "That's the new bit of ground. We had a look at the ground earlier and though I thought it was minimal difference I thought it was slight better in the middle.

"Once racing starts we'll probably find we're in the wrong place but we're happy where we're at."

Ante-post favourite Son Of Rest has a higher draw in stall 17, while Stewards' Cup runner-up Justanotherbottle inherited the highest berth in stall 25, with no connections around at the time the horse was drawn out.

BHA to cap racecourse commission on sellers

After proposals from the Racecourse Association, the BHA has changed the conditions of selling races, an alteration which will be implemented from October 1. 

Racecourse commission of the post-race auction will be capped at ten per cent of the sale price, although tracks can charge less. 

As it stands, commission can be anywhere up to 50 per cent of the minimum bid, which discourages connections from campaigning horses in selling races, in turn meaning they are less attractive to stage. 

Paul Johnson, BHA head of racing, explained how this rule change will go some way into making sellers a better option for trainers and owners: "Having once been a popular race type, in recent years we have seen a decline in the attractiveness of sellers.

"We hope that these steps will go some way to revitalising sellers and make them a more appealing proposition for racecourses to stage as an alternative to handicaps."

One For Arthur at Kelso

Last year's Grand National winner, One For Arthur, will make an appearance at Kelso on Wednesday to mark the opening of its new parade ring and winner's enclosure.

Lucinda Russell's nine-year-old, a two-time winner at the track, missed last season due to injury but has returned to training and will make his first public appearance at Kelso's grand opening. 

The development, which cost £350,000, includes a new terrace around the parade ring, which is itself 50 per cent bigger than the old one, and the demolition of an old Betfred betting shop to allow racegoers more walking space. 

Jonathan Garratt, managing director at Kelso, said: "We wanted to ensure that the horse is at the centre of everything that we do here at Kelso, which is why we decided to start our development with this particular project.

"Future developments will ripple out from this area, so that the focus is always on the equine element of our sport," Garratt added. 

"Next year we hope to build new saddling and wash-down facilities on the far side of the parade ring, while the following season we are planning to commence construction of a new weighing room and space for entertaining racehorse owners."

Longchamp plan for Nunthorpe hero Alpha Delphini

Nunthorpe winner Alpha Delphini, who prevailed in a photo-finish at York in August, is being targeted at Longchamp’s Qatar Prix de l'Abbaye.

Alpha Delphini pulled off a 40-1 shock when beating Mabs Cross by the narrowest of margins on the Knavesmire and trainer Bryan Smart is hopeful of following up in Paris on October 7.

“The form is looking good,” said Smart on Tuesday. “We beat Havana Grey in the Palace House at Newmarket in May and he’s gone on to win a Group 1 in Ireland.

"Alpha Delphini is still 20-1 for the Abbaye and Mabs Cross is a lot shorter, as is last year’s winner Battaash, who seems to find it tough at York.

“Hopefully he’ll go to France feeling well and happy. He’s got to travel overnight, which he’s done before, but never abroad. If he takes it well I have no doubt he'll perform well. He’s been trained for the race."

Alpha Delphini, whose half-brother Tangerine Trees landed the Abbaye in 2011, was on Tuesday available at a best-priced 20-1 with Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power, but is also as short as 10-1 elsewhere.

Battaash, winner of the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood but beaten at odds-on in the Nunthorpe, is the general 6-4 favourite for the Abbaye.

Watch Alpha Delphini's victory in the Nunthorpe Stakes

Flanagan hoping to be back in three weeks

Sean Flanagan, Noel Meade's stable jockey who has not ridden since fracturing his tibia at Tramore last month, is hoping to be back within the next three weeks.

He said: "It hasn't been as straightforward an injury as we were expecting it to be but I'm due to see my surgeon Paddy Kenny this day next week and I'll know more then.

"The leg is healing well but there's a build up of fluid, especially around my knee, and it's just taking a bit of time. I'd be hoping to be back in about three weeks but, looking back at the fall, it could have been a lot worse so I won't complain."

Jack Banks funeral notice

The funeral of former trainer Jack Banks will take place at West Suffolk Crematorium at Bury St Edmunds on September 25 at 3pm. Family flowers only. Donations to Dementia UK and Racing Welfare.

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We hope that these steps will go some way to revitalising sellers and make them a more appealing proposition for racecourses
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