Onefortheroadtom a solid each way option

Onefortheroadtom a solid each way option
By Stephen Dwyer

Onefortheroadtom, pictured above after being sold last year at Tattersalls to Kieran McManus, is an attractive 8/1 chance today in the opener at Cheltenham.
Sold for £100,000 last April after winning his only start at Oldcastle in a Point to Point,  Onefortheroadtom was sent to Harry Fry at Manor Farm where he beat recent Aintree Grade 1 winning hurdler Lalor first time out at Exeter last October. Perhaps finding the 2m trip at Worcester on the sharp side, Onefortheroadtom was beaten in a blanket finish at 2/5f on his next outing and New Year’s Day, in a listed hurdle over 20f by the 141-rated Tikkanbar but he lost a shoe that day and a line can be put through that run.
The 5yo will be fresh today from winning a Jumpers Bumper at Kempton in January under Noel Fehily and his form is strong in the book. 8/1 looks a tad overpriced and it he well worth a cut at the odds. 
Diese Des Bieffes rates the danger and will go off around the 2/1 mark but he had a hard enough race at the Festival in the Martin Pipe and made several jumping errors so I would be keen to take him on.
The race today features no less than four last time out winners but under Barry Geraghty, Onefortheroadtom represents value and will put in his running. Expect him to go very close.

Queen of the crop

Queen of the crop
By Stephen Dwyer
The July cup is one of the top sprint races of the European flat season. Held on the July Course at Newmarket, the track almost always rides quick. In the Group 1 Darley Cup of 2011, it was no different. As the race developed, one jockey was in trouble. 28 year old Hayley Turner, riding the David Simcock-trained Dream Ahead, was two furlongs from the winning post and boxed in. She had never sat on the horse before as Will Buick, the regular rider had to ride at York that day.
With time running out, Turner had to switch left a furlong out, a difficult manoeuvre at best, not least in a furiously-ran sprint race. In an instant Hayley changed hands and steered the three year old colt out of trouble and into a clear path. Under a strong drive, she forged clear and won the race by a neck. In doing so Hayley Turner who became only the second female rider to win a Group 1 in Britain (the other was Alex Greaves, dead-heated on Ya Malak in 1997 Nunthorpe).
Dream Ahead of course was no slouch, he was is one of two Group 1 winners by Diktat, winner of the Prix Maurice de Gheest and Haydock Sprint Cup, alongside Rajeem, who landed the Falmouth Stakes on the Newmarket July course. But that day in Newmarket, Hayley Turner was outstanding. Dream Ahead ran three more times, winning two Group 1 races but Turner did not keep the ride. In a way, this was indicative of Hayley Turner’s career. Opportunity would come knocking, she would answer, notch up a series of winners and earn the valid reputation as a gifted rider. But it was all transient and the wake of this type of treatment that this week leading flat lady rider of our generation is retiring at just 32.
It is common knowledge that women (but only aged over 30) were granted the vote in 1918, but it was another 48 years before the Jockey Club issued its first trainer’s licence to a woman, and six more before the they were allowed to ride. In what was very much a male-dominated sport, even the progressive attitude in American was curtailed. Diane Crump, one of the USA’s first female jockey, had to fight her way through an angry crowd to get to her first race at the age of 18. During the 1960’s in her memoirs she recounts being heckled with tirades of “Go back to the kitchen and cook dinner”. Of course if it were not for pioneers like Crump, later riders such as Nina Carberry, Katie Walsh in Ireland and Hayley Turner and Kirsty Milczarek in the UK to take up the mantle as lady riders.

Life was not all straight forward to Hayley Turner. She suffered a series of injuries throughout her career and showed toughness and resilience when returning after each one. At  the St. Leger meeting a few years ago she was thrown  from a horse (below) and fractured three vertebrae in her back as well as her pelvis. She was sidelined for months.

But she did what all good jockeys do, regardless of their gender – they kept going. Awarded joint Champion Apprentice with Saleem Golam with 44 winners in 2005, her early career flourished. In recent seasons she has many rides but the winners dipped. Turner said lately ““I get plenty of rides, I’m paying my mortgage. But being a jockey isn’t just a job, it’s your lifestyle and it’s difficult to have a work/life balance. I just feel that I’ve done so much, what a way to finish it and then let’s go and take on something else.””

So the next challenge beckons. A pundit on the Sky-owned channel AtTheRaces where she will cast an expert eye on proceedings from the studio. Turner has become an inspiration for young female riders and she is solely responsible for the huge surge in women jockeys over the past few years. In Ireland, many racecourses did not even have separate changing rooms for men and women but thankfully this is now a thing of the past.

Lady riders received a welcome boost of late too when former Olympian Victoria Pendleton joined their ranks. It is an upward curve and a welcome addition to an area which is as resistant to change as gravity.

Hayley Turner will be missed but her legacy endures. She took up the reins and gave it billy-o. Fair play to you Hayley. Respect granted, given by us all who cheered you on from safety.

Farewell Kauto Star

Farewell Kauto Star

Like so many others, the news of Kauto Star suffering an injury and having to be put to sleep hit me hard. It was most unexpected and unwelcome news. My immediate question was “how did this happen ?” All too aware that the great Kauto was now embarking on a late dressage career, I thought immediately that he might have incurred some sort of freak injury as he was still a relatively young horse and in rude health. And so it came to pass. Though not competing, a freak fall in a paddock, (no one knows quite how it happened) resulted in a devastating series of injuries. The second  thoracic vertebrae and sixth cervical vertebrae were irreparably damaged. Paralysis was the outcome and as he could not stand, the decision was made to euthanise the double Gold Cup winner. And though that was the most heart-breaking of decisions, it was the right call.
I felt a profound sense of loss when Kauto Star died. Not the same as losing a family member, that goes without saying, but rather like learning that your favourite childhood pet had passed away. He was my favourite racehorse, there is no doubt about that, and he deserved a long and happy retirement, not this. But as we are all well aware, we don’t always get what we deserve. There have been dozens of glowing obsequies about Kauto Star, all of them show the affection and high regard in which he was held. I believe that Alastair Down wrote a beautiful article but I must confess that I have not read any of them. I wanted my own few words not to be influenced (even by the great Mr. Down) because in a way it is cathartic.
Rather than list his achievements, of which there are many, or list the controversies around the relationship between his owner and trainer, I will remember Kauto Star fondly. I was at Cheltenham when he won his first Gold Cup. I was devastated when Denman beat him and remember walking around in a funk for hours afterwards. But it was when Kauto Star regained his Gold Cup, becoming the first horse to ever do so, that I was beyond the point of reason in happiness. It is probably a form of madness to get so attached to a horse that you have no connection with, but it is a happy form of madness and I have the best memories of this horse. I really believe that I will never feel the same way about another.
Farewell Kauto Star, you handsome, talented, aristocratic beauty. You held us all in captivation for so many years and you will be missed. Rest now that your race is run.

Betfair Ascot Chase Preview

Kauto Star was the last winner of the Betfair Ascot Chase back in 2008 for Paul Nicholls. It is a race that has not been kind to the Ditcheat trainer. Pride of Dulcote fell when in contention in 2011, the useful  Cerium broke a blood vessel in 2007 and there have been a string of unplaced but useful types in the interim renewals. Nicholls saddles Ptit Zig, the favourite for this year’s Betfair Chase.
So let’s have a look at the main contenders for this year’s renewal:
Ptit Zig (15/8f) P Nicholls / S Twiston-Davies
Since finishing third in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham on only his second ever start, Ptit Zig has progressed nicely through the ranks. He won the 4yo Renaud Du Vivier Grade 1 hurdle in France shortly after his Cheltenham third and subsequently ran credibly in other Graded hurdle races including a respectable sixth in the Champion Hurdle. 
Since taking to fences, Ptit Zig is now unbeaten in four starts and is a worthy favourite for the Ascot Chase. He has a tendency however to make the odd mistake (hit the fourth last on his chase debut and was all wrong at the eight fence on his second start over fences) and this race will be his biggest ever test over fences. He easily accounted for Josses Hill in the Grade 2 Noel Novices’ Chase at Ascot in December and followed up that win on New Year’s Day in the The Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. Ptit Zig was raised two pounds for that performance and currently runs off a mark of 159. In his December column, Nicholls was of the opinion that Ptit Zig was marginally better on right handed tracks. Given that, Ascot suits, and his course record there reads 2 1 
He is a 6yo and still in his novice season, horses of that profile (the age) do not tend to win the Betfair Chase. I expect tomorrow to be no different as Ptit Zig, useful as he may be, (and he has an outstanding chance in the JLT) he may not have enough in the locker to beat a very competitive field. At the prices, on all known form and with a bounce anticipated, for me he is a lay, with Balder Success preferred.
Balder Success (5/2) A King / W Hutchinson
A tough, second-season chaser, Balder Success comes into his own around this time of year. He is ultra-consistent and was installed at the initial favourite for the Betfair Chase but all the money has come for Ptit Zig (15/8 from 11/4). Alan King is on record as saying “Fences have made a man of him” and praises the way the hose travels and well as his attitude. A dependable sort, Balder Success was fourth in a high-class renewal of the Tingle Creek last December before finishing second to Special Tiara (who received five pounds) in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase.
Last month Balder Success easily accounted for Hunt Ball and Fox Appeal (both rated in the 150+ bracket) in a listed Chase at Kempton. The trip in the Betfair Chase will suit, as will a strong pace.  Without conceding weight to the novice Ptit Zig, Balder Success has an outstanding chance of providing Alan King with another win in this race. He was successful in the 2009 renewal with the multiple Grade 1 winner Voy Por Ustedes and Balder Success will take all the beating tomorrow.
Ballycasey (4/1) W Mullins / R Walsh
It was around this time last year that Ballycasey won the Grade 1 Dr. P.J. Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown. It was only his second start over fences and he had the world at his feet. Things went rather south for the grey following this career best. Ballycasey finished fourth in the RSA Chase (where he failed to stay) before falling two out in the Powers Gold Cup when looking a likely winner. He again was out-stayed by Carlingford Lough in the Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown but won at Gowran on his seasonal reappearance last November. 
Willie Mullins is again granting Ballycasey a light campaign this year but the trip of his last run (2m 1f) was a little sharp and he finished well down the field. The fact remains though that Ballycasey has won just one of the five Graded races that he has ran in, despite being favourite on almost all of those occasions. It is not that he is a disappointing horse, he just might not be fulfilling his potential. He is prone to making a mistake or two which has cost him races in the past. The trip at Ascot is ideal however and Willie Mullins has never sent a runner over to England to target this race – something to take on board in itself. He is a dangerous proposition but not without his question marks. If he is at the top of his game he has every chance but that is a big “if”.
Ma Filleule (9/2) N Henderson / B Geraghty
An impressive winner of the Topham at Aintree last year, Ma Fileule disappointed at Down Royal recently but scoped dirty afterwards. Third to Sam Winner at Aintree in a closely-run race on the Mildmay course at Aintree, the mare receives a seven pound allowance from the field tomorrow. There is more improvement to come from Ma Fileule but she has won just two handicap chases in her career. Interestingly, Timeform pronounce Ptit Zig to improve but admit that he will need to progress to the tune of around 10lb should either Ma Filleule or Balder Succes run their race.
She looks value but the bridge to her first Grade 1 success may be a bridge too far.
Other Runners:
The two outsiders Rajdhani Express and Theatre Guide (16/1 and 33/1) have a patchy record at best and are the odds belie their chances.
Balder Success and Ballycasey to fight it out with the former to prevail.
Ptit Zig to win the JLT at Cheltenham

Horse Racing Industry News

Ladbrokes, who operate 213 betting shops in the Republic and 79 in Northern Ireland have announced a loss of almost 11% in net revenue for 2014 to date. Despite the boon provided by the World Cup, Ladbroke’s Irish operation also reported a 7.5% drop in betting stakes. Ladbroke’s performance in Ireland is indicative of problems within the wider group which has reported a drop of 33% in operating profit for the first half of the year. Despite closing 46 shops in 2014, Ladbrokes are suffering in the online space to rivals William Hill and Paddy Power. Hills in particular are vastly out performing them. Ladbrokes’s online business made £3m in operating profits this year whereas Hill’s made £92m during the same period. All of this has resulted in Ladbrokes share prices dropping by a full 27% from the start of the year. Ladbrokes CEO Richard Glynn remains optimistic about the growth of the online brand but has admitted it has taken longer than expected : “Mobile is the battleground now – there is no doubt about it. We only launched [our mobile product] six months ago. It is now bigger than desktop in digital. It is growing at a very good rate.” Despite the drop in earnings, Ladbrokes remain on course to meet their full-year profit target but if the remainder of the year turns out like the first half, Glynn may not be in the hot seat for 2015 as shareholders continue to be greatly concerned with its overall performance.
Betfair have sold 50% of their Australian business to Australian gaming and entertainment group, Crown Resorts Limited, for A$10m. In doing so Betfair have raised speculation about a return of capital to their shareholders. The deal with Crown Resorts Limited will see Betfair continue to provide software and technology to the Australian business and will receive a share of revenues generated in the region. David Jennings, analyst at Davy said Betfair has “been very frustrated” by the tax treatment of betting exchanges in Australia “for many years“. The sale was widely welcomed and CEO Breon Corcoran has continued to perform strongly since joining the Betting Exchange from Paddy Power in 2012. Corcoran received €179,000 in relocation costs when moving from Dublin to the UK to take the helm at Betfair but to his credit, shares at the company have risen by almost 50% since he joined in 2012.
There was a mini bidding war between Gerry Griffin, Jim Culloty, Matt O’Connor and Aiden Murphy at the Tattersalls Ireland August National Hunt Sale for a three-year-old Milan gelding. Wexford’s Parkville Stud were delighted as their gelding was sold for €80,000 to Ryan Mahon on behalf of Paul Nicholls. Related to Woolcombe Folly, he will be trained at Ditcheat for a 2015 campaign. Overall trade was brisk at the three-day National Hunt Sale. Other notable mentions include John O’Byrne paid €60,000 for son of Presenting who is a half-brother to the 2013 Arkle hero Simonsig. Gerry Griffin, on behalf of Nicky Richard, parted with €58,000 for a son of Stowaway out of a winning half-sister to Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby. Tattersalls announced that the 2014 sale vastly out-performed the 2013 one and were very pleased with the amounts realised.
Under his remit as chairman of the European Pattern Committee, Brian Kavanagh has announced a number of changes to European sprint races for 2015. Among these changes include upgrades to races in Britain, France, Germany and Ireland. There will also be a new Group 1 6f race at Royal Ascot which will be worth £375,000. Kavanagh admitted that he felt that “there is a definite lack of top class European three-year-old sprinters” and the aim is to increase the quality and opportunities for trainers. Naas racecourse will benefit from the new sprint programme as their listed Lacken Stakes which is held in June is elevated from a Listed race to a Group 3. The Curragh too will have a new Group 2 race for older horses as the Greenlands 6f sprint is upgraded and both the Sapphire and Flying Five will also garner Group 2 status next year.
If ever you visit a website and have the misfortune to click onto a missing link to a broken page, you will see a standard error message called a “404 error”. This indicates that the page cannot be found. Usually these 404 pages are drab affairs but some websites are a little more creative than others. Credit to RTE Sport who display a photograph of the great Shergar on their 404 error pages. The 1981 European horse of the year who was stolen by masked gunmen from Ballymany Stud in 1983 and remains on the missing list ever since. Gone, but not forgotten Shergar lives on in cyberspace in no small way due to the RTE technicians at Donnybrook as he reminds you that your website page, like the horse himself, unfortunately cannot be found.

Recent news

As part of the much vaunted redesign of Leopardstown racecourse, their marketing team have launched a new brand identity which aims to capitalise on the recent success of attracting younger race goers. Incorporating the tagline ‘Dublin’s heart is racing’, the design features a regal, purple background and heavily advertises the hospitality side of the operation.  On the back of the launch, Pat Keogh CEO of Leopardstown said: “The new brand identity portrays a modern, vibrant and contemporary design”.  Opened in 1888 Leopardstown’s design was based on Sandown Park but it now very much carries its own individuality.
The search for the new CEO of Paddy Power is still in an early phase and although the company has until April 2015 to find a successor, their shot selection will be extremely astute. Although the new CEO is bound to meet challenges, particularly in a maturing online market, the CEO role is an extremely lucrative one. Patrick Kennedy is among the highest earners of any Irish company for some time now. Over the past decade, Kennedy has received shares worth €24.6m. He also has options of €4.7m and has received salaries totalling €15m. Far from Paddy Power to admit it is a cash cow but these figures tell a different story. Current front runners for the new CEO include Cormac Barry who joined Paddy Power in 2000 and currently runs Sportsbet, Paddy Powers Australian arm. Sportsbet is Australia’s biggest corporate bookmaker and was acquired by Powers in 2009. Interesting times ahead.
Three recent racecourse meetings in the UK raised eyebrows for all the wrong reasons. The official crowd figures for three turf meetings were paltry at best. 755 were in attendance at Brighton,  803 at Carlisle 803 and at Nottingham 830 souls braved the elements. There may not be much financial future for tracks based on those numbers and it serves as a warning for all Irish racecourses to stay on their guard.
Denis Egan, head of the Turf Club has issued a shot across the bow when declaring that there are two separate cases pending about the banned practise of jockeys involvement in laying horses on betting exchanges. This comes in the wake of a four year ban and €10,000 fine handed down to 25-year old Eddie O’ Connell who pulled up the James Lambe-trained Yachvili at Downpatrick in 2011. Betfair subsequently notified the Turf Club about irregular betting patterns including a £10,000 bet which had been laid on Yachvili to not finish in the first three. O’ Connell is currently weighing up his options and his solicitor Andrew Coonan has stated that an appeal against the suspension is under consideration  HRI funding to the Turf Club has had its integrity budget reduced by almost a quarter since 2008 and now stands at €5.9m.
Hard to imagine that 30 years have passed since the Ballydoyle second string Sadler’s Wells beat Procida & Secreto to win the Irish 2000 Guineas. Before his death in 2011, Sadler’s Well was a fourteen-time champion Irish sire and had produced over 100 Group 1 winners worldwide and 23 classics in Great Britain, Ireland and France. His progeny have earned over €120,000,000. His bloodlines are still very dominant through Galileo and New Approach. Not bad going.