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Jockey Club Racecourses ‘revise up’ £75 million lost revenue

Jockey Club Racecourses expect revenue losses to exceed initial estimates of £75 million, following the announcement that crowds will be absent from sporting venues for the near future.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a number of new restrictions on Tuesday, because of rising Covid-19 infection rates, and called a halt to the pilot events for returning spectators to elite sport.

He warned the new constraints could be in place for up to six months, raising the prospect of the Cheltenham Festival having to be run behind closed doors in March.

Cheltenham is one of 15 tracks run by JCR, and group chief executive Nevin Truesdale is seeking further discussion with Government as to how long restrictions may be in place and what support could be offered in the meantime.

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He said: “Organisations in the sport and events sector are facing significant financial challenges after six months with no spectators or visitors to their venues.

“Previously we had estimated that revenues at Jockey Club Racecourses would be down this year by around £75 million out of an annual turnover that is normally circa £200 million, but that figure is being revised upwards on the basis we won’t have any level of spectators back from October 1.

“We need to discuss more details of this with Government – both in terms of the potential period we are looking at and the direct support for the industry that is now needed – but also making the case that restaurants and hospitality sales for example should be treated in the same way as the high street would make a real difference.

“In the meantime we will continue to race behind closed doors, as the teams have done a great job doing safely since racing resumed on June 1.”

Ascot has almost completed its Flat season entirely behind closed doors, with only three race days left in 2020.

The track staged the Royal meeting without spectators in June – and its other headline fixture and seasonal finale, British Champions Day, will also have to go ahead without racegoers on October 17.

Ascot’s director of racing and communications Nick Smith said: “Unfortunately we will not be able to welcome crowds on race days at this time in line with Government policy.

“In the short term, we will be refunding or offering rollovers to all who have booked for our October race days, including QIPCO British Champions Day.

“Champions Day entries were very strong, and the ante-post markets reflect that a high-class renewal is on the cards, so we are focussing on that.

“International interest is high – and like Royal Ascot, there will be Worldpool betting through the Hong Kong Jockey Club.”

Graffard planning ParisLongchamp return for The Revenant

Last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes runner-up The Revenant is set to make his long-awaited return to action on Arc weekend at ParisLongchamp next month.

Formerly trained in Britain by Hugo Palmer, the five-year-old won seven of his first eight starts for Francis-Henri Graffard before finding the Richard Hannon-trained King Of Change too strong on Qipco Champions Day at Ascot last October.

The Revenant has not been seen in competitive action since that fine effort, but is closing in on a comeback ahead of a potential second tilt at the QEII on October 17.

Graffard said: “The Revenant is in very good form and the plan is for him to run in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein on Arc weekend.

“We’ll see what the result is there before deciding where we go afterwards.

“We decided we wanted to wait for the softer ground, so we stopped (training) during the lockdown. He has missed half of the year, but that was nothing to do with the horse, but because of the conditions.

“He is in top form and we will be pleased to see him back on the racecourse.”

The Revenant is a best-priced 16-1 with Paddy Power for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, with John Gosden’s unbeaten three-year-old Palace Pier the odds-on favourite.

Teal on weather watch for Oxted ahead of Ascot

Oxted will only run in the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot next month if conditions are suitable.

Trainer Roger Teal reports his July Cup winner to be back in rude health after being forced to miss the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Preparations are going swimmingly now ahead of the Group One sprint over six furlongs – but Teal would rather put him away for the season rather than risk the proven fast-ground performer on going that would compromise his chance.

“He’s back in full work and we’re going quietly away with him towards Ascot, all being well,” said Teal.

“Obviously we’ll monitor the ground situation. If this weather could last for another month we’d be highly delighted, but it’s unlikely to happen.

“We’ll have to make a decision whether we go there or not or wait until next year or whatever. He’s only a four-year-old.

“We wanted to go to Haydock, but things didn’t go right. We don’t want to go to Champions Day if we’re not sure about conditions.

“We gave him a quite week. We didn’t stop working with him. He just went on hacks and we freshened him up. He’s been doing some healthy exercise.

“He’s cantering away now and looks absolutely superb. We’re happy with the way he looks.”

Art Power returning to scene of finest hour

Tim Easterby is eyeing a return to Ascot for his star sprinter Art Power.

The grey son of Dark Angel looked every inch a top-class sprinter in the making when dominating his rivals in handicap company at the Royal meeting in June – his fourth win from his first five starts.

He finished a disappointing sixth when well fancied for the Nunthorpe at York last month, but shaped better when fourth in the Sprint Cup at Haydock on his latest appearance.

Art Power has looked a top-class sprinter in the making
Art Power has looked a top-class sprinter in the making (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The Qipco British Champions Sprint on October 17 is next on Art Power’s agenda.

Easterby said: “He’s in good shape – he came out of Haydock well.

“I was very happy with how he ran at Haydock and it will be Ascot next for him, all being well.

“He’ll be a better horse next year as he’s still got some strengthening up to do.”

Dark Vision could head to Joel Stakes before potential QEII outing

Dark Vision could take in the Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket on Friday en route to a return to Group One company in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

The Group Two mile prize is under consideration for the Mark Johnston-trained Dream Ahead colt ahead of a potential outing on Qipco British Champions Day, for what would be a first start at the top level since last year’s 2000 Guineas.

Having claimed the Royal Hunt Cup on his second start this season and a Listed contest at Pontefract three runs ago, Dark Vision continued his recent revival with victory in a Group Two at Baden-Baden in Germany.

Assistant trainer Charlie Johnston said: “He is in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket so we will have a look at that. If he doesn’t run there we might wait until the QEII, but we are not ruling out doing both.

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“He likes the course and distance (at Ascot) and if we are going to roll the dice at that level that’s where it will be at.

“If Palace Pier and the whole shooting match turn up it will be a pretty scary place to go, but at the same time if there is a big field around him I could see him picking up the pieces and running well.”

Sheikh Mohammed purchased Dark Vision during his two-year-old campaign (Simon Cooper/PA Images)
Sheikh Mohammed purchased Dark Vision during his two-year-old campaign (Simon Cooper/PA Images)

Although Dark Vision failed to hit the heights he promised as a juvenile during a disappointing three-year-old season, Johnston believes his performances this term demonstrate he has turned a corner.

He said: “You could call this season a revival. He was rated 113 at two and he dropped down to 97 following a lacklustre three-year-old campaign.

“Off the back of Germany the handicapper has put him up to 113 and he has gone right back to the heights he scaled as a two-year-old.

“I’m not quite sure this is what Sheikh Mohammed had hoped for after his two-year-old season, but to win at Royal Ascot and in a Group Two is a good season in most books, which I’m sure he would agree with.

A return trip to Germany later in the season is an option for Communique (Joe Giddens/PA images)
A return trip to Germany later in the season is an option for Communique (Joe Giddens/PA images)

Stablemate Communique is in line for a return to Germany in the Group One Preis von Bayern at Munich on November 8 – provided conditions are suitable, having found only Barney Roy too good in the Grosser Preis von Baden earlier this month.

Johnston said: “He is a funny old horse. Just as you think he might be a bit out of form after his Goodwood an Newbury runs, he then runs well at Windsor and in a German Group One showing their is life in the old boy still.

“He has finished second in two Group Ones in Germany and is a bit below that level in England.

“There is the Preis von Bayern still to come. It is late in the year and the ground could be bad, but it is not impossible that he could go there.”

Berkshire Rocco pencilled in for Ascot

Pertemps St Leger runner-up Berkshire Rocco could be seen next in the Noel Murless Stakes at Ascot.

Although winless in 2020 thus far, Andrew Balding’s colt has run some tremendous races in defeat – finishing second in the Lingfield Derby Trial, the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and the season’s final Classic at Doncaster, as well as placing fourth in the Great Voltigeur at York.

The Kingsclere handler is keen to get the son of Sir Percy’s head in front before the end of the campaign and views the Listed Noel Murless Stakes on October 2 as an attractive aim.

“He has come out of the Leger in good form,” said Balding.

“He will probably go to the Noel Murless in two weeks’ time at Ascot. He deserves to win a race this year and that looks a logical target.

“There has been some interest from abroad, but nothing firm. It is just a case of watch this space.

“I was very proud of the horse last week. He went as close as he could without winning it, but there you go.”

Newmarket could be next for QEII contender Top Rank

James Tate has the Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket on September 25 in mind next for Top Rank, although the weather could scupper his plan.

The rapidly-improving four-year-old was impressive at Haydock last time out in the Superior Mile, and Tate has his eyes on a crack at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day.

He would prefer that Top Rank goes to Ascot having contested a Group Two first – but the grey does not want fast ground.

“What I would like to run him in next is the Joel at Newmarket, but he wouldn’t be a fast ground horse,” said Tate.

“That’s the first possible race, so we’ll just have to take it as it comes. Other possibles are the Prix Daniel Wildenstein in France or the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket I’ve entered him in, but that’s over seven and he really would want cut in the ground for that.

“At the end of the year obviously there is the QEII but we’re looking for a Group Two next, ideally.”

Tate went on: “He came out of Haydock in very good order and is crying out for another run. I’d like that to be the Joel, but I would like to see some rain between between now and then.

“I’d rather give him a run in a Group Two before a Group One, but I can see problems in that so we could end up in a Group One straight away. Either way, I think he’s going to be some prospect next year.

“Should he win the QEII then obviously there’s a stud career to think about, but that would be a lovely conversation to have. At this stage I’m going into the autumn thinking we’re going to have fun with him next year.”

Logician takes Doncaster return in his stride

Plans have yet to be made for Logician following his successful comeback at Doncaster last week.

The John Gosden-trained grey had been out of action for almost a year after winning last season’s St Leger, having suffered a life-threatening illness during the winter.

He faced only one rival on Town Moor and unexpectedly had little trouble in winning, but despite holding entries at Ascot on British Champions Day over 10 furlongs and two miles, no decision on whether the unbeaten Frankel colt goes there will be made for some time.

“He’s come out of it fine, I’m pleased to say,” said owner Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe.

“He seems to be in good shape after it and it was everything we could have hoped for actually as a race.

“It was almost a year to the day since he won the St Leger and he had been seriously ill over the winter, so we were going into the unknown a bit to say the least. But the way he came out of it pleased us.

“We’ve got no real plans as such. I think John’s inclination is to go gently and we really wanted to see how he came out of the race and see how he progresses before making a decision.”

A debrief for the Logician team at Doncaster
A debrief for the Logician team at Doncaster (David Davies/PA)

With Enable almost certain to be retired following her run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe next month, Logician looks set to be a standard bearer for the team next term.

“He’s an important horse for Prince Khalid and we’re treating him very much with next year in mind,” said Grimthorpe.

“You have to treat each horse on their merits so we’ll keep monitoring him. He’s still unbeaten in six races and is a very exciting horse – hopefully there’s more to come.

“To say it was a two-runner race the other day the time was respectable, all things considered.”

Menuisier has Group One options for Wonderful Tonight

Ground conditions will dictate the next step of David Menuisier’s Prix Minerve winner Wonderful Tonight.

The filly stepped up in class markedly at the weekend to run in the Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp and acquitted herself well, in what looked a strong renewal.

She finished fifth of 10, beaten four lengths by Dermot Weld’s impressive winner Tarnawa on ground quicker than ideal.

“I thought she ran a very, very solid race,” Menuisier said.

“Considering the ground was probably far from ideal for her, I thought she ran an absolute stormer.

“She was only beaten a length and a half from the second place, and she probably ran to the same sort of mark, or maybe even better, than when she won in Deauville on ideal ground. So that kind of bodes well for the future.”

Menuisier is now considering two separate paths as he seeks her favoured conditions, with both the Prix de Royallieu back at ParisLongchamp and the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot pencilled in.

“I will go wherever the ground is the softest,” he said.

“It will either be the Royallieu on the Saturday of Arc weekend, over a mile and six furlongs, or the fillies and mares at Ascot on Champions Day over a mile and four.

“Let’s face it, we’ve only just run so we need to make our minds up in a few weeks.

“If the ground looked pretty soft over Arc weekend then I think we’ll just go there, rather than take a chance, not go there and then we end up on good ground at Ascot.

“If the ground is heavy or very soft for the Arc weekend then we’ll probably run there and then take it from there. If it’s not quite soft enough, we might bypass it and go to Ascot instead. I’m open minded really, I feel it’s a good problem to have!”

QEII target on Champions Day for Century Dream

Ed Crisford is keeping his fingers crossed for soft ground on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot to give Century Dream the best possible chance of bouncing back from a slightly underwhelming performance in Ireland on Saturday.

Having run out an impressive winner of the Celebration Mile at Goodwood last month, the six-year-old was the market leader to double his Group Two tally in the Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown.

However, having cut out much of the running under William Buick, Century Dream weakened into fifth place as fellow British raider Safe Voyage emerged triumphant.

Crisford, who trains Century Dream in partnership with his father, Simon, said: “I think the ground was a bit quick at Leopardstown and they went strong enough up front.

“The ground was probably a bit quick for him, but he’s come back fine and I think we’ll just head to the QEII on hopefully softer ground.”

The following afternoon A’Ali was sent off favourite to grab Group One glory in the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh, where he landed the Sapphire Stakes in July.

A'Ali failed to fire in the Flying Five
A’Ali failed to fire in the Flying Five (Dan Abraham/PA)

But all plans are on hold for the son of Society Rock after he trailed home last of 14 runners.

“He was disappointing – he looked a bit flat and a bit lethargic,” Crisford said.

“We’ll just see how he is this week before we make any further plans, I think. When they run too bad to be true, we need to put the horse first and see how he comes out of it.”

Vaughan pleased with Malliot’s Vermeille run

Further top-level assignments await Dame Malliot following her fine effort in defeat in Sunday’s Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp.

After claiming Group Two honours under Hollie Doyle in Newmarket’s Princess of Wales’s Stakes in July, the daughter of Champs Elysees came close to providing both the record-breaking rider and trainer Ed Vaughan with a first Group One success when narrowly beaten in Germany.

Frankie Dettori took over in the saddle aboard the Anthony Oppenheimer-owned four-year-old in France – and after cutting out much of the running, Dame Malliot only gave best late on, finishing an honourable third behind Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa and odds-on favourite Raabihah.

Vaughan said: “I was very pleased – it was another good run from her.

“We were only beaten a short head for second. The winner was very impressive.”

Dame Malliot could either return to France on Arc weekend or run in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot.

“She’s in the fillies and mares race and also the Prix de Royallieu. We’ll see how she is over the next week and make a plan,” Vaughan added.

“It does get tougher for the older fillies at this time of year as they’re giving weight to the three-year-olds who are coming into form and getting stronger, but she deserves to run in those races now.”

Hannon pays tribute to King Of Change following retirement announcement

Crack miler King Of Change is to be retired to stud, trainer Richard Hannon has announced.

Runner-up to Magna Grecia when a 66-1 shot for last year’s 2000 Guineas, the Farhh colt went on to prove that effort was no fluke when following up victory in the Fortune Stakes at Sandown with a top-level triumph in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in October.

However, the four-year-old has not been in competitive action since.

Speaking on his website, www.richardhannonracing.co.uk, the trainer said: “He is without doubt one of the best milers that we have ever trained. His second in the 2000 Guineas was an outstanding effort and he then went on to win the QEII on Champions Day with a performance that I can only describe as impeccable.

“His obvious ability is matched by his physical stature and I am sure he is extremely well equipped to make it as a stallion.

“I would like to express my thanks to the Belhab Family for allowing me to train a star like him. It has been a wonderful opportunity and a great pleasure.

“He will be sorely missed by everyone here when he leaves to do his new job and we look forward to following the paths of his offspring for years to come.”

Confirmation on the stud where King Of Change will stand is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Champion Stakes on the agenda for Pyledriver

A crack at the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot is next on the agenda for Pyledriver following his fine effort to finish third in the Pertemps St Leger.

Having already won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Great Voltigeur at York this season, William Muir’s stable star was strongly fancied for the final British Classic of the year at Doncaster on Saturday.

After travelling strongly for much of the race, the son of Harbour Watch ended up racing on the far side of the track in the closing stages and ultimately had to make do with minor honours.

Muir said: “He’s come home safe and sound. I wondered whether the race might have taken a bit out of him, but he’s eaten everything and he’s in great shape.”

Jockey Martin Dwyer – Muir’s son-in-law – felt Pyledriver failed to see out the trip of a mile and three-quarters and he is set to come back to a mile and a quarter on Champions Day.

“I don’t want to be dogmatic and say he didn’t stay. He didn’t stay quite as well as the first two, but I felt he was closing again at the line and at the end of the day he’s been beaten a length and a neck,” Muir added.

“He couldn’t quite go through the gears like he did at York. It didn’t help that he got a bump and ended up out on a wing on his own, but that’s racing.

“The Champion Stakes was the plan and I don’t see any reason to change it.

“I think he’ll be fine back at a mile and a quarter and if it did come up heavy ground, he’d handle that and it would mean you’d nearly need to stay a mile and a half well to win, which he obviously does.

“He is still a bit weak, which I’ve been telling everyone all year. He’ll be some horse next year, I promise you.”