Weekly Horse Racing Blog: The Show Must Go On

Racing Set to Continue Despite New Lockdown

No sooner had French racing’s three-and-a-half month dalliance with crowds on course ended on Friday, and the sport was forced back behind closed doors.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced a second one month lockdown here in England, forcing British racing to adopt exactly the same approach, starting this Thursday.

In a statement released on Saturday evening the BHA said: “The horse racing industry has worked hard to maintain the safety of our participants and the communities in which we live and work. We have done all we can to play our part and will continue to do so under the new restrictions.

The secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Oliver Dowden has said last night that elite sport played behind closed doors will be able to continue. Horse racing is included in that category, which is crucial for our industry.

The government’s decision, we believe, recognises the professionalism shown by our people and is vital to protect jobs. This is welcome news for the tens of thousands whose livelihoods depend upon our industry. Now, more than ever, we recognise the need to act responsibly and keep racing safe. In the difficult weeks ahead, our sport will do its best to lift the nation’s spirits.

Uncertain Future

British horse racing has set out to the government in recent weeks the perilous future we face with no spectators permitted at present and betting shops closing. Last week’s decision does not alter the fact that racing needs urgent financial aid and funding reform to protect jobs and the future of our world-class industry.

Although the sport can continue on, the lockdown it is yet another big blow to racing’s overall finances as the closure of 5,681 betting shops in England means that the levy accrued from media rights is severely impacted.

Owners with runners entered on any particular day should find out on Monday whether they will be allowed into racecourses to watch their horse’s race from Thursday onwards.

Despite Nick Rust, the chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), promising on Sunday to lobby hard to keep them on track, there must be some natural Government reluctance to allow owners to crisscross the country to pursue what is essentially an expensive hobby, whilst the rest of the country are confined to barracks.

It’s tough to predict what they will do but I think I would be pricing it up ‘No’ at 8/11 and ‘Yes’ at 11/10 at 9am on Monday morning.

Set Your Alarms – It’s Melbourne Cup Time

Even though it means setting your alarm clock to go off at 3.55 am for a 4.00 am start time here in the UK, plenty of Brits will be doing just that to watching the Melbourne Cup take place at Flemington Park on Tuesday morning.

British and Irish runners have understandably had a logistical nightmare to be ready, fit and prepared to run in the Cup due to the global Covid-19 restrictions; however eight of them in total will tackle “the race that stops the nation”.

  • Tiger Moth (9/2) Aidan O’Brien’s ante-post favourite and should get the distance.
  • Anthony Van Dyck (8/1) Derby winner and was second in the Caulfield Cup
  • Prince Of Arran (9/1) Always runs well in this and should do so again (NAP).
  • Master Of Reality (16/1) Joseph O’Brien’s runner was very close in this last year.
  • True Self (25/1) Second in a Geelong Cup and hails from the Willie Mullins camp.
  • Stratum (25/1) Winner of a Cesarewitch and stays longer than the mother-in-law.
  • Twilight Payment (33/1) Finished 11th in this race last year.
  • Dashing Willoughby (50/1) Stone last in the Caulfield Cup but he’s better than that.

Breeders’ Cup This Weekend

Be sure to focus your attentions on the United States next weekend (6/7 November). Not for the fallout from the US Presidential Election, but for the excellent equine action from Keeneland racecourse.

British and Irish raiders to look out for include…

7.30pm – Lipizzaner, Mighty Ghurka, Ubettabelieveit
8.10pm – Battleground, Cadillac, New Mandate.

5.39pm – Glass Slippers, Equilateral
6.57pm – Audarya, Cayenne Pepper, Peaceful, Terebellum
8.15pm – Circus Maximus, Kameko,
9.33pm Magical, Tanarwa, Lord North.

If you had to press me for a selection, I’d opt for Circus Maximus (each way) at 16/1 in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. This race has been his 2020 target for some time.