We take a look at some of the top racing stories of the day in our new feature and provide our experts’ racing selections on Tuesday, February 21, 2017.
Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR) plans to contribute a record £22.9m towards prize money this year, an increase of £2.1m on 2016. A total of £45m is earmarked for JCR’s 15 tracks which have 341 fixtures, with £1.4m of the extra funding going to jump racing. Its seven smaller tracks – Carlisle, Exeter, Huntingdon, Market Rasen, Nottingham, Warwick and Wincanton – will see more than £100,000 extra each in prize money and as much as £241,000 in the case of Carlisle. JCR group MD Paul Fisher said: “All levels of British Racing will benefit from the prize money increase, but I hope the clear boost for National Hunt racing and the grassroots of our sport is particularly welcome.”
The announcement of £22.9m in prize-money at Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR) this year has been well received. Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) chief executive Charlie Liverton said: “This announcement from Jockey Club Racecourses is excellent news for owners and horsemen, and I am further delighted that grassroots racing has seen particular focus. This extra support for the middle and lower tier of British Racing is clearly needed and is welcome. That is where it can help the majority of racehorse owners and horsemen and where more investment is needed around the country.”
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai (right), who flopped in the Denman Chase at Newbury having previously been an impressive winner of the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock, is still on course for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. Pushed out to 25/1 for the March 17 showpiece by MyClubBetting yesterday, Anthony Bromley, representing owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, was upbeat. He said: “We’re still going to have a go at the Gold Cup,” but added, “it’s a big roll of the dice. Even the distance is still an unknown and there are some very smart horses in there. He’s a lovely horse but he is an outsider, don’t get us wrong”.
Superb Story has been ruled out of the Champion Hurdle after suffering a tendon injury. He won comfortably on his only start of the season at Musselburgh, but trainer Dan Skelton tweeted: “Superb Story will not be running at Cheltenham. He’s got a small lesion in a tendon and will need time off. Possibly back in December.”
ITV has launched new app, ITV Racing, in a tie-up with developer Monterosa. It features a new £100,000 predictor contest ITV7. ITV Digital Studios online editorial director Sheena Peirse said: “Horse racing is a major priority for us and we see the app as a crucial way to reach new and existing fans of the sport and launch the ITV7 competition.”
The Neil King-trained Lil Rockerfeller will bid to become the first back-to-back winner of the National Spirit Hurdle since Lough Derg after being given the green light for Sunday’s feature at Fontwell. Owner Andy Smith said: “Lil Rockerfeller did a fantastic piece of work on Saturday morning, which Neil was delighted with, so we’re confident he’s over his last run and we go to Fontwell with high hopes.” Nicky Henderson’s L’Ami Serge, second in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham and Different Gravey are also among the entries for the Cheltenham Stayers’ Hurdle trial.
Emma Lavelle (right) is doing a rain dance ahead of Saturday’s Eider Handicap Chase for last year’s runner-up Shotgun Paddy. Lavelle said: “I’ve heard a going report saying ‘lovely drying wind’ – that is no good for him, but there is some rain about so hopefully it hits Newcastle. He’s a solid stayer and he deserves to win one of these big chases because he’s knocked on the door in so many of them.”
When it comes to Forest Bihan’s chances of landing the Racing Post Arkle Trophy, trainer Brian Ellison is a realist. “The favourite looks nailed on – Altior looks like a machine so we’re obviously running for place money, but we’ll see,” he said. Forest Bihan has won three of his four starts over fences and was cut to 20/1 by MyClubBetting after Ellison added: “He’s very well, I actually think he’s a little underrated looking at his price.”
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10775684/brian-ellison-aims-forest-bihan-at-arkle-trophy-at-cheltenham http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/February/20/brian-ellison-happy-to-take-arkle-challenge-with-forest-bihan
Capitaine is likely to be made favourite Saturday’s Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton, a recognised trial for Cheltenham’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Paul Nicholls’ five-year-old chased home Finian’s Oscar in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last time and heads 12 entries, along with Alan King’s Elgin.
Mutakayyef will have to concede upwards of 5lb to his rivals in the Winter Derby at Lingfield on Saturday. William Haggas’ six-year-old will face a maximum of 10 rivals, all of whom are rated 9lb or more lower, and is likely to be the MyClubBetting favourite. Former stablemate Battalion, now with Jamie Osborne, is also among the leading fancies with the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Convey.
Terry Doherty, stud manager for Watership Down Stud, has been named as Employee of the Year 2017 at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff awards in a ceremony at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge. The perpetual Godolphin Trophy was presented by Freddy Tylicki, along with a cheque for £40,000, of which £20,000 will be shared amongst the staff at the Stud. It was part of £120,000 in prize money awarded by sponsors Godolphin. Chairman of the Judging Panel Brough Scott said: “The finalists were of a quite exceptional standard and it was really inspiring for the judges to hear their stories. However, in the end, Terry emerged as a clear and very fine winner and I am sure he will be a great ambassador for the sport.” Source: http://www.racingpost.com/news/live.sd?event_id=24071724&category=0
Today’s MCB British Racing selections – Tuesday, February 21, 2017
SOUTHWELL: 2.10 Log Off, 2.40 Elegantly Bound, 3.10 Vroom, 3.40 Lady Nayef, 4.10 Bounty Pursuit, 4.40 Horseguardsparade
TAUNTON: 2.20 Viking Mistress, 2.50 Lake Shore Drive, 3.20 Verdana Blue, 3.50 Heroes Or Ghosts, 4.20 Top Tug, 4.50 Monsieur Gibraltar, 5.20 My Story
WETHERBY: 2.00 Café Au Lait, 2.30 Money Maid, 3.00 Jerrysback, 3.30 Groomed, 4.00 Modulus, 4.30 Scarlet Fire, 5.00 Our Belle Aime
Today’s Lucky 15 Selections: Monsieur Gibraltar (Taunton 4.50), Bounty Pursuit (Southwell 4.10), Jerrysback (Wetherby 3.00), Elegantly Bound (Southwell 2.40)