x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

UK stables faced with a cash crisis

Low prize money at Newmarket highlights bleak outlook of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's trainer John Gosden.

William Buick, left, and the horse Masked Marvel will be key to the campaign of trainer John Gosden, right, this summer.
William Buick, left, and the horse Masked Marvel will be key to the campaign of trainer John Gosden, right, this summer.

John Gosden believes that British racing must continue to work hard to attract foreign investment if it is to remain competitive on the world stage.

The Newmarket trainer cautioned that unless investment from the Middle East and countries such as Hong Kong and China continued British handlers would struggle to make ends meet.

Gosden is in a fortunate position as he enjoys the patronage of leading owners such as Princess Haya of Jordan and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, but he warned that even some of the best in the business were in trouble.

"We are lucky that at the top level we have a lot of international investment because of the prestige of our racing," he said.

"It is not something we can take for granted. The National Trainers' Federation conducted a survey and about the 12th trainer in the standings wasn't the best paid person in his organisation - it was his head lad. It is unsustainable."

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani's Qipco Holdings bailed out British racing at an elite level last season by creating the British Champions Series, a group of races that mapped out the season at the highest level.

Thanks to owners such as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, British racing remains competitive internationally.

British trainers have been some of the most enterprising over the past few seasons, forced by low prize money to discover more lucrative opportunities abroad.

At the beginning of the Dubai World Cup Carnival this year there were 99 British horses accepted to race at Meydan Racecourse - by far the largest international contingent.

And British bloodstock is highly prized around the world also. Owners based in Hong Kong regularly raid Britain for racehorses in training. Xtension finished fifth in the Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night last month for the Hong Kong trainer John Moore but was bought out of Clive Cox's Newmarket yard two years ago.

It was a path trod previously by Viva Patarca, who had won only a Listed contest in Britain before becoming one of the highest earners ever in Hong Kong in a career that included a second in the 2008 Dubai Sheema Classic for Moore.

"The future of flat racing as we know it here, on turf, is to the Middle and Far East. Over the next 10 to 25 years that is where it is going and we have to compete with that," Gosden said. "Who can afford to have big broodmare bands, studs and stallions - it's extremely expensive. Our festival meetings can hold their own, but when you drop away from those it's difficult to make a living."

Starscope is one of four fillies that Gosden hopes to campaign at the highest level throughout the summer. The Fugue, Gathering and Breeders' Cup runner Elusive Kate will be all ready for action over the next few weeks, as will his older horses such as Masked Marvel, Arctic Cosmos and Nathaniel.

"You can feel good about things, but around the corner is always a banana skin," Gosden added, in an interview with a British television channel. "It's like football and pre-season training; a player can do a hamstring. We wait for the Craven meeting and then it's hold on to your hats until November."

Cloud lifted on Frankel's injury

Frankel received a clear scan on his injured leg yesterday and will resume training in preparation for his seasonal bow in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury next month. The world’s highest-rated thoroughbred injured his off-fore on the gallops at Newmarket last Wednesday.

The inflammation continued over the weekend but, after another scan yesterday, his connections were given the all-clear and the colt will be trained with the Group 1 mile contest in mind.

“Frankel has been given the all clear, following his scan this afternoon,” Lord Grimthorpe, the racing manager to the owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, said yesterday. “There was no evidence of any damage to his tendon and he will now resume a normal training regime.”


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