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Cheltenham Festival-winning chaser Sparky Gayle dies at the age of 28

Sparky Gayle puts in a flying leap en route to victory at Newcastle
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Sparky Gayle, who gained a memorable triumph in the 1997 Cathcart Challenge Cup Chase, has been put down at the age of 28.

Trained in Dumfriesshire by the late Colin Parker and ridden by Brian Storey, he stormed up the Cheltenham hill to beat fellow Borders raider Major Bell by four lengths.

Sparky Gayle followed up a month later in the Future Champions Novices' Chase at Ayr and won 12 of his 39 starts for his owners Ray and Anita Anderson Green.

East Lothian-based Ray Anderson Green said: "It's the end of an era but he had a good innings and was here with us for 17 years after he retired. We buried him in the paddock beside the house, so he'll never be forgotten.

"Our dual-Scottish National winner Merigo is still with us and is very upset at losing his old pal. Sparky was the last Scottish-trained horse to win a Graded chase at the Cheltenham Festival and I'd love to get another one like him."

McLernon award

Jessica McLernon, an assistant trainer at Richard Fahey's powerful North Yorkshire yard who this year won the most coveted prize for stable staff, has been named the first recipient of the new Toby Balding Award.

The annual honour, which is worth £4,000, offers employees in racing the chance to learn new skills and broaden their experience.

It has been launched by the National Trainers Federation and commemorates the late Balding, who saddled winners of the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle.

Funded by the National Trainers Federation Charitable Trust (NTFCT) from a donation made by the Adrian Swire Charitable Trust, it provides opportunities for higher-level qualifications and training.

Jessica McLernon: "I am absolutely thrilled"

McLernon, who joined Fahey's operation in 2011, was named Employee of the Year at the 2018 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards in February.

The sister of jump jockey Richie McLernon, she said: "I'm absolutely thrilled to be the first recipient of the Toby Balding Award.

"I'm in the process of completing my trainers' modules at the Northern Racing College and this award will assist me greatly in furthering my education within the racing industry. Thank you to the NTF and its charitable trust for their continued support throughout my career."

Exhausted Dunlop thanks supporters

Group 1-winning Flat trainer Harry Dunlop has thanked those who supported him following his 100-mile charity cycle through the streets of London on Sunday.

Harry Dunlop: around £10,000 raised for charity

Dunlop, whose biggest success with an equine saddle came via Robin Of Navan in the 2015 Criterium de Saint-Cloud, is a keen cyclist and undertook the challenge to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK.

"I completed my cycle in wet and windy conditions and finished in front of Buckingham Palace," Dunlop said. "It was good fun, but tough going.

"I've managed to raise around £10,000 and I want to thank all the racing people who have donated." 

Blackmore has ban reduced

Rachael Blackmore, who leads the Irish jump jockeys' title with 27 winners, had the five-day whip ban imposed on her by stewards at Tipperary on August 2 reduced to three at an appeals hearing held before racing at Galway on Thursday.

The appeals body cut the suspension but ordered Blackmore to attend Race for a day of tuition. She will miss August 9, 11 and 12.

Greatrex sidelined

Eddy Greatrex was handed a 24-day totting-up ban by the BHA on Thursday, eight of which have been deferred.

Greatrex was referred to High Holborn after a fifth whip offence within six months which warranted a suspension of between two and six days. 

His suspension period is August 10-25, but eight days are deferred to October 6.

Bath loses two more meetings due to dry spell

Bath's fixture this Friday is being staged at Wolverhampton, while it was announced on Wednesday that the Somerset course's following two meetings will be held at Chepstow.

Bath has suffered more than any in this warm and largely rain-free summer as it does not have a watering system, resulting in the fixtures next Wednesday and a fortnight on Saturday also being transferred to an Arc sister track.

Paul Johnson, head of racing at the BHA, said: "As the dry spell continues we have made this decision at an early stage in order to allow horsemen and racecourses to plan as best as possible. 

"Despite the fact there was some rain in the area over the weekend there's no expectation Bath will be able to race on the coming dates.

"Our thanks go to Arc and the Levy Board for their assistance in facilitating the transfers."

Racetech new deal

RaceTech has been successful in securing a three-year extension of its contract to provide full HD outside broadcast facilities and integrity services to Racecourse Media Group racecourses until the end of 2021.

John Bozza, chief executive of RaceTech, said: "We're delighted to be able to continue our long-term partnership with Racing UK to provide the best service using up-to-date technology for their benefit and for those of their racecourse customers."

As part of its commitment to RMG, RaceTech is commissioning a new outside broadcast truck to add to its fleet and be operational from early 2019.

Carnival prize-money rise

Prize-money for the Dubai World Cup Carnival, which begins on January 3, has been boosted by 12 per cent.

The three rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge will now be worth $350,000 (up $100,000), $450,000 (up $200,000) and $600,000 (also up $200,000), while Super Saturday races have also received boosts.

The Jebel Hatta is up $100,000 to $400,000, while the Dubai City of Gold and Al Bastakiya will be run for $50,000 more and are now worth $300,000.

Champagne colts

Ultra-promising two-year-olds Advertise, Quorto and Anthony Van Dyck on Wednesday featured among 79 entries for the Group 2 Howcroft Industrial Supplies Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on September 15.

The Group 2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury on August 18 has drawn 41 entries including Limato, Jungle Cat and Wednesday's Goodwood winner Sir Dancealot.


Read The Briefing from 8.30am daily on racingpost.com with all the day's latest going, weather, market moves and non-runner news


 

It is the end of an era but he had a good innings and was here with us for 17 years after he retired
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