Two replacement fixtures announced by Horse Racing Ireland

Horse Racing Ireland has announced two replacement fixtures after a string of cancellations. 

Bellewestown will stage a replacement jumps card on the evening of Wednesday, April 24 with entries closing on Thursday.

Gowran Park will host a Flat card on May 9 to replace the lost card at the track on Wednesday.

Nigel Taylor, long-serving Formcast of the Daily Mail, dies aged 77

Nigel Taylor, who supplied the Daily Mail's race-ratings service for more than 43 years under the Formcast title, has died at the age of 77. He had been suffering from cancer.

Taylor joined the Daily Mail racing desk in 1979 and continued as Formcast until June 2022, creating ratings for every race, Flat and jumps, single-handedly, seven days a week and rarely taking holidays. On departing the newspaper he described his work as "a labour of love". His top-rated selections, Formcast's 'blob 78', went through the card four times during his tenure in the role.

He served alongside three Daily Mail racing editors, Ewbank Callender, Brian Giles and Marcus Townend, who paid tribute to his former colleague. "Nigel was a unique character and was married to the job," Townend said. "He felt a responsibility to his readers and his Formcast ratings were legendary in the Daily Mail, garnering a massive following.

Brian Giles (holding champagne bottle) celebrates a winning day with Daily Mail colleagues Nick Townsend, Nigel Taylor and Max Moorcroft
Nigel Taylor (blue shirt), Formcast of the Daily Mail, celebrates a winning day with Daily Mail colleagues Nick Townsend, Brian Giles (with champagne) and Max Moorcroft

"He liked nothing better than finding the winner of one of the big handicaps and hated it when his Special Bet was on a losing run."

Taylor leaves a partner, Colleen Perry, her children and grandchildren, to whom he had become devoted in recent years. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

Sky Bet Sunday Series returns at Musselburgh

The £1.3m Sky Bet Sunday Series will return this weekend, with the first of six fixtures taking place at Musselburgh.

The series, which will be broadcast on ITV, will include the Jockey Cup that offers a total of £60,000 of prize-money. The jockey who collects the most points at each fixture (ten for a win, five for second and three for third) will earn £10,000, while a £100,000 bonus will be on offer to the owner of the first horse to win three races across the six meetings. 

As well as the fixture at Musselburgh on Sunday, the series will also be staged at Newmarket (May 19), Hamilton (June 2), Thirsk (June 16), Haydock (August 4) and Pontefract (August 18).

Jockey Joanna Mason said: "I’m really looking forward to this year’s Sky Bet Sunday Series. It’s been a great initiative with all the different bonuses that are available. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a winner or two over the six meetings."

Trainer Ian Williams added: "There are very generous incentives for the participants, especially stable staff and jockeys, and we’ll definitely be considering another crack at it this year."

The series has announced Cure Leukaemia as the new charity partner, which will put its name to the Jockey Cup and at one race each meeting.

Julian Taylor to be appointed new chairman at Aintree

Julian Taylor will succeed Nicholas Wrigley as chairman of Aintree following the Grand National meeting.

Racehorse owner Taylor, who worked in the insurance industry for 40 years, served as chairman of Huntingdon from 2019 to 2023.

Taylor, who rode as an amateur in hunter chases and point-to-points, said: "As a lifelong jump racing enthusiast, I am delighted to be appointed chairman of Aintree racecourse.

"The Randox Grand National is known the world over with its rich history and I am honoured to be in a position where I will be entrusted to help move the great race forward in the years ahead."

BBC executive and former Racecourse Association chairman Sir Paul Fox dies aged 98

Sir Paul Fox, former chairman of the Racecourse Association and veteran television executive who oversaw the launch of popular shows such as Dad's Army, has died aged 98.

He spent much of his career at the BBC, most notably as the controller of BBC One (1967-1973) and managing director of BBC TV (1988-1991), and was also Yorkshire TV's managing director.

Sir Paul Fox: former chairman of the Racecourse Association
Sir Paul Fox: former chairman of the Racecourse AssociationCredit: Racing Post

Following his retirement in 1991, Fox held a number of senior positions in horseracing. He was chairman of the Racecourse Association (1993-1997) and during that time served as one of 12 directors of the newly formed British Horseracing Board (BHB), which later merged with the Horseracing Regulatory Authority (HRA) to form the BHA. Fox was also on the Levy Board and was a director of RaceTech. 

"It's very sad news about my old mate going," said John Sanderson, group chief executive of International Racecourse Management, which runs Catterick, Thirsk, Redcar and Wetherby. "He was a tough bloke, having served in the Parachute Regiment, and I always thought he'd make 100. I knew him when I was chief executive of York and he was at Yorkshire TV, which provided most of our coverage.

"When he retired from the BBC, the RCA was looking for a chairman and because I knew Paul I was asked to see if he'd be interested. We were both at Cheltenham and I invited him for a cup of tea to float the idea. He took the role and did a very good job for us. He played a big part in the sport. He was a heavyweight who had a commanding presence in meetings. It's sad he's gone but he had a good life."

Pontefract's managing director Norman Gundill, who was on the RCA board alongside Fox, said: "He was a lovely man and a pleasure to work with. I thought he was an excellent chairman and he had gravitas – people took notice of what he said. He was a giant in television and he knew racing. I thought he represented the RCA very well on the British Horseracing Board when it was still in its infancy."

Fox was appointed CBE in 1985 and was knighted in 1991. 

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Published on 18 December 2023inRound-up

Last updated 18:08, 16 April 2024