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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Triumph hero Defi Du Seuil heads Greatwood entries

Defi Du Seuil: Triumph hero due to return at Cheltenham
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Germany's five-time champion trainer Peter Schiergen has been fined €15,000 and issued with a nine-month ban, suspended for five years, by France Galop over a cobalt positive.

Schiergen, who trained the Arc and King George winner Danedream, was punished after a sample from his runner Epako produced a reading above the threshold for cobalt, which is a prohibited substance, after winning a claimer at Clairefontaine in July. 

Epako had been given a feed supplement called Bleedex, which comes with a label that reads, 'This product contains no prohibited substance', and has been in wide use across Europe since 2009 for the prevention of pulmonary bleeding.

France Galop addressed trainers at a meeting at Chantilly in October last year warning of the threat from cobalt, a performance enhancer which has been the scourge of racing in Australia and resulted in a number of trainer suspensions.

Reminders were emailed in March and details added to the France-Galop website in June this year. 

Death of popular steward

Robin Kerr, who worked as a racecourse medical officer before becoming a steward at a number of northern tracks, has died aged 83 after a long illness.

Kerr was a GP in Stokesley in North Yorkshire when he started working on the racecourse, taking his first post at Stockton in the sixties. He later added Redcar, Catterick and Thirsk to the tracks he covered.

He retired from medicine, aged 60, when he was appointed a steward at Sedgefield, Catterick, Redcar and Thirsk, becoming a well-known figure until he stood down from panels aged 70.

His funeral will be held at Stokesley Parish Church on Monday, November 13 at 12.30pm.

Hotel plan for Hamilton

Hamilton has unveiled plans for a multi-million pound hotel development on its grounds, with a formal planning application made to South Lanarkshire Council.

The plan is for the 118-guestroom property, operating under the 'Hampton by Hilton' brand, is to be built on what is currently the main public car park of the racecourse grounds.

The £10 million project, the track says, will bring up to 20 new jobs to the racecourse, doubling the current number of employees.

Hamilton chief executive Vivien Currie said: “We are constantly competing with racecourses further south to attract top trainers and jockeys. Having an onsite hotel for them to stay in will add to the host of benefits and incentives we offer to connections to ensure we stage top quality racing.

"Our prize-money increased by 15 per cent this past season and now it’s time to invest again in our facilities and attract new visitors."

Defi Du Seuil among Greatwood entries

Last season's Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil heads the 47 entries unveiled on Thursday for the £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham a fortnight on Sunday.

The likely topweight is The New One, while there are nine Irish-trained entries.

Evan Williams is planning to run the improving Silver Streak should he make the cut, and said: "Physically, the horse has improved. He had a tremendous summer back at home with his owner who did a hell of a good job on him."

Young stayers to benefit from extra attention

Staying races for three-year-olds are set to get a boost in prize-money over the next three years as the BHA announced the latest raft of plans on Wednesday to develop the Pattern for stayers in Britain.

The Queen's Vase, promoted to a Group 2 and worth just north of £160,000 in June, will have a total prize fund of £250,000 by 2020, a figure that will be reached incrementally over the next three seasons.

The Bahrain Trophy, Gordon Stakes, March Stakes and Noel Murless Stakes will all at least double in value over the same period, funded by the racecourses. The BHA will use around £1.5 million from its development fund to bolster prize-money for staying races at Class 2, 3 and 4 level.

Ruth Quinn, the BHA's director of racing development, said: "These targeted enhancements supported by the BHA development fund for the next three years mark a considerable, industry-wide commitment to improve the staying programme further, particularly for the three-year-old, which has been identified as the next priority in our wider project to safeguard the future of the staying horse."

The Queen's Vase and Goodwood Cup (now a Group 1) were the main promoted races by the European Pattern Committee in February in what was the first manifestation of the drive to increase interest in staying races.

There have been calls for more staying races to be promoted in next year's review, most notably the Qipco Long Distance Cup on British Champions Day.

Burke out of luck in France

Karl Burke, a Group 1 winner in France this season with Unfortunately in the Prix Morny, was out of luck in Wednesday's Prix de Seine-et-Oise at Maisons-Laffitte with Simmie, who finished eighth behind The Right Man, who was securing back-to-back victories in the Group 3.

Ridden by Tony Piccone, Simmie, a Listed winner in France 12 months ago, weakened after being asked for her effort two furlongs out. She finished a place in front of Willie McCreery's Downforce.

The Right Man, trained by Didier Guillemin and ridden by Francois-Xavier Bertras, is entered in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin on December 10.


Guignol triumphs in Germany

There was a repeat result in the Group 1 Pastorius - Grosser Preis von Bayern at Munich as Guignol followed up his 2016 triumph, providing trainer Jean-Pierre Carvalho with his fourth straight win in the race. Dschingis Secret, sixth to Enable in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, was third.

Death of leading hunter chaser owner

Peggy Hagan, the popular point-to-point supporter and owner of leading hunter chaser Balnaslow, has died just short of her 90th birthday.

Balnaslow and Derek O'Connor wins the 3m champion huntes chase.Punchestown Festival.Photo:Patrick McCann 28.04.2017

The veteran owner's interviews on television prior to the runs of the Graham McKeever-trained ten-year-old were warmly received last season, and Balnaslow's regular rider Derek O'Connor described Hagan as "a lovely lady who was a pleasure to ride for".

He added: "Peggy was the same person whether it be a point-to-point in Northern Ireland or the Foxhunters at Cheltenham. I really enjoyed any moment I rode for her – win, lose or draw, once the horse and rider came home safe she was happy. She'll be sadly missed."

Groundstaff Award winners

Newmarket, Warwick and Leicester were honoured at the Racecourse Groundstaff Awards for 2017 as winners of the Flat, jumps and dual-purpose categories respectively on Tuesday night.

The winners were decided by an industry wide panel made up of representatives from the Racecourse Association, the Professional Jockeys Association, British Horseracing Authority and National Trainers Federation.

The winning teams are deemed to have demonstrated the highest levels of commitment, innovation and excellence throughout the year.

Caroline Davies, RCA racecourse services director, said: “All the winners have shown tremendous ability to produce world class facilities for our horsemen.”

Mullins opens doors to public

Seamus Mullins will welcome visitors from 10.30 am on Sunday at his annual open day at his Wilsford Stables, at Amesbury in Wiltshire welco.

The team have been in great form over jumps this season, and with 16 winners on the board Mullins is already only one short of last season's total. 

Visitors will enjoy a parade of horses, featuring the likes of Chesterfield, Fergall, Song Light and Somchine, as well as those representing the Seamus Mullins Racing Club.

There will also be schooling demonstrations, a retraining of racehorses display and the opportunity to talk to the trainer and members of staff, as well as jockeys includng Andrew Thornton and Jerry McGrath, provided they are not racing.

Entry is free and hot food, cakes and drinks will be available until the event finishes at 12.30pm.

Whisky Baron Dubai-bound

South African ace Whisky Baron, forced to miss the Challenge Stakes and a hoped-for invitation to Hong Kong for the big international meeting in December by the equine equivalent of a twisted ankle, is to be rerouted to Dubai.

Trainer Brett Crawford said: “Whisky Baron is back in light work and on a water treadmill. I hope he'll be under saddle and cantering once more by the end of the week. He'll fly out to Dubai in mid-December. I'm not yet sure when he'll run but there are a lot of options there between January and March.”

The Australian-bred, winner of all his five South African races last season including the prestigious Sun Met, had his first British start in last month’s Shadwell Joel Stakes and is stabled at the Abington Place yard in Newmarket.

He has been recuperating from his injury at the Longholes rehabilitation centre.

Stan James Online hit with £80,000 penalty 

Stan James Online have been hit with an £80,000 penalty by the Gambling Commission after a customer gambled stolen money with them.

The regulator began its investigation in March after receiving a police report regarding an individual who had been stealing from their employer.

The customer managed to gamble £137,000 of stolen money – losing £40,000 – over a two year period from November 2014 to October last year without triggering money-laundering thresholds or being subjected to adequate source of funds checks, the commission said.

Stan James Online will return £40,000 to the person whose money was stolen and gambled away and a further £40,000 in lieu of a financial penalty.

The commission said it had discounted the financial penalty by giving credit to Stan James for "timely disclosures and early acceptance of their failings".

Evans new Emirates commentator

The Emirates Racing Authority has appointed Australian Craig Evans as its new commentator for the 2017-18 season.

Evans, who worked in Singapore until last year, replaces Terry Spargo who retired in April after 17 years commentating in Dubai.

Evans will operate at all five ERA tracks, including at Meydan during the Dubai International Racing Carnival, beginning at the season's first fixture at Jebel Ali on Friday.


Physically, the horse has improved. He had a tremendous summer back at home with his owner who did a hell of a good job on him
E.W. Terms
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