Not quite seven days from the inaugural Social Discourse, I'm back with the next thrilling instalment, writes William Kedjanyi. Thanks so much for the responses to last week's opener - they are much appreciated indeed, and hopefully you'll continue to enjoy these posts going forward.
There's been rather a lot of news off the track in the last week as we head towards further trials for Cheltenham's Festival, but sadly we must start with some bad news on this very front.
- Say It Ain’t So, Dino
The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away. As reported last time, Master Dino romped to victory in a top class Plumpton novice chase to the joy of those who got to witness it (and subsequently backed him for the JLT). But just 48 hours later we received arguably the most gutting injury blow of the season so far as it emerged that Guillame Macaire's exciting French fencer sustained a hairline fracture to a hind leg en route to victory.
Needless to say, the racing Twitteratti, yours truly included, was in anguish;
BREAKING: Master Dino will miss the Cheltenham Festival after sustaining a hairline leg fracture at Plumpton. Connections are hopeful he will be fit to return to action in the spring of next year.
— Racing Post (@RacingPost) January 8, 2019
Very disappointing news to report that MASTER DINO will MISS this year’s Cheltenham Festival for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. Has had surgery this morning to insert 3 screws in his hind leg.
Glad to say he is fine after the operation. Now the long road of recuperation.🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/spQliLYDkb
— Highflyer Bloodstock (@agentbloodstock) January 8, 2019
Anthony Bromley, racing manager to the chaser’s owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, confirmed the news on Twitter. [Master Dino] has had surgery to insert three screws in his hind leg. Glad to say he is fine after the operation. Now the long road of recuperation.”
The Good: Master Dino is just five, and even a late return, all being well, would see him take to the track before he turned seven.
The Bad: He has now lost the rest of his novice chase season in both France and the UK for connections.
The Ugly: It is a hairline fracture, however, and we will be left waiting a long time before news of the fullness of his recovery is known.
- Play It Again, ATR
Sense has prevailed as Irish racing replays for races run before the new year have been restored. Reported Scott Burton of the Racing Post:
"Race watchers will now be able to see Irish racing replays, including those from the festivals at Leopardstown and Limerick, on attheraces.com as well as RacingTV.com, sorting out what had been a rather confusing row."
A joint statement on behalf of the four companies said: "We are pleased that all parties have reached an agreement which will enable the Irish digital archive to be restored to websites. The archive up to December 31, 2018, will be restored on attheraces.com today. It will be available for the rest of 2019.”
- Hard Lines
Amid a rise – a small but notable one - in the number of cases of jockeys testing positive for metabolites of cocaine, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has pledged more stringent penalties on Irish-based jockeys who test positive for the substance.
Five-year suspensions were handed out to 7lb claiming apprentices Damien Melia and Conor Murphy and, according to the Post, there’s another case waiting to be heard.
This is splitting people's opinion, some say too harsh some say not enough..
I don't know where my opinions sit with this one, I'm against cocaine and I always have been but surely it's not a performance enhancer?
There must be a reason WHY jockeys take the substance. https://t.co/Jl4fjO4BUA
— Jay (@TracksideJay) January 11, 2019
This is total bullshit. Fenton got less for using proven performance enhancers on horses. Plenty other trainers regularly get slap on wrists (at best) and do not offer any explanation re stuff like Cobalt (e.g. Joseph O'Brien). Totally insane IMVHO.https://t.co/f4SBnsd4T5
— Dₐᵣᵢₒ (@darryoh) January 10, 2019
There has been a fair amount of reaction to the ban as many would expect, with some being supportive of the jockeys involved, as seen above.
IHRB Chief Exec Denis Egan: “As the number of positive tests for riders in 2018 was five, Justice Tony Hunt, chairman of the IHRB referrals committee, feels the message is not getting through to riders. Consequently the starting-off point for bans related to positive tests will, in future, be five years.”
- Beauty, In The Eye Of The Beholder
Japan’s love affair with the Arc is one of the highlights of the famous race but it might not be exaggerating to suggest that Almond Eye is perhaps the most exciting raider they’ve planned to send since Orfevre.
At the JRA awards last week, the unbeaten fillies’ Triple Crown winner who landed the Japan Cup in an astounding 2 minutes 20.6 seconds, was pointed towards the race by trainer Sakae Kunieda.
Enjoy her victory below, courtesy of Sky Sports Racing:
She looks special - winner of the Japanese fillies’ Triple Crown earlier in the season, Almond Eye beats the older horses in spectacular style and record time in the £4.5m Japan Cup: pic.twitter.com/yrrtjDU58v
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) November 25, 2018
From The Horse’s Mouth: "The Arc is our ultimate goal. We'll see how we do in Dubai and make the final call after that but the Arc is our target. She's doing really well now, coming along nicely."
- If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them
How does one take on the all-conquering force of Ballydoyle? Join forces, of course. A superb exclusive from the Irish Field’s Daragh Ó Conchúir reveals that top Curragh trainers John Oxx and Patrick Prendergast are to join forces ahead of next season, with Oxx as the named trainer.
The two are based in adjacent yards but Prendergast won’t renew his license. Despite last season being his best ever, he will instead play an integral role in training a progressive and growing string alongside Oxx, formerly trainer of the brilliant Sea The Stars.
EXCLUSIVE: Top Curragh trainers John Oxx and Patrick Prendergast join forces https://t.co/ZMw1gPIK0h
— The Irish Field (@TheIrishField) January 11, 2019
Logistics, Logistics, Logistics: Oxx said, "I have the space and Patrick doesn't, so we can combine. He is anxious to do it and we are very happy for him to join up with us, and it brings us up past the critical number that this place needs. We haven’t had that for some years.
"It’s a big place here so it needs a critical number of horses to support the core staff levels I have to have, whether I am training 30 horses or 150, so it has a big positive effect on us.”
One To Note: The training regime of classy filly, Skitter Scatter, winner of the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes in September, won’t change, in case you were wondering.
6. A Perfect Winter Escape?
Little known Irish trainer, Aidan Howard, has a hugely exciting prospect on his hands in the shape of Winter Escape, a J P McManus-owned son of Robin Des Pres, who gave weight and a beating to two smart horses in the Grade 3 Total Event Rental Novice Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 13, 2019
The third placed horse is rated 145, and he was beaten 15 lengths in receipt of seven pounds, and the second placed 5/4 favourite was getting a full stone from the winner but was no match.
Winter Escape earned a Racing Post Rating of 157, the highest in the JLT Chase ante-post division and yet he's available at 16/1; still, the 12/1 non-runner no bet with Skybet looks the prudent call.
The trainer told Racing Post, "Winter Escape did it very well and I wasn't expecting him to be able to give away that sort of weight to the favourite. He has a couple of entries at Leopardstown so we'll see how he comes out of the race. I think he's a good horse"