Ouija Board bows out

Ouija Board, one of the greatest racemares of the modern era, retired last Saturday prior to what had been billed as her final race, due to lameness in her near fore. The announcement came 24hr before the five-year-old was expected to run in the Group One Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin, a contest she won 12 months ago. The mare, who ranks second only to Singspiel in terms of prize-money won by a British racehorse, aggravated an old splint injury when working before the race.

During a dazzling career, Lord Derby’s mare won seven Group or Grade One races. She was emphatic when taking the 2004 Oaks by seven lengths and in the same season gained the first of two wins in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Perhaps her most memorable appearance came at Royal Ascot back in June when she proved too good for a field of top-notch colts in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. After the race, connections described it as the greatest performance of her career.

Jockeys guilty in race-fixing scam

Jockeys Brian Reilly and Dean Williams were banned from racing for a period of 18 months on Monday, after being found guilty of taking part in a race-fixing scam. Bookmaker and former racehorse owner Owen Churchill, who was behind the scam, has been disqualified by the Horseracing Regulatory Authority for eight years and fined £2,000. Churchill netted £56,000 by laying 10 horses to lose races during the winter of 2004-2005. Reilly and Williams were “groomed” for the deception by Churchill, according to the HRA, and will be allowed to continue to ride until their appeal is heard.

Ascot to get £10m revamp

Work to correct Ascot’s viewing problems is due to start next week and is expected to cost a staggering £10m. Racegoers complained about restricted viewing when the track reopened earlier this year following its multi-million pound redevelopment. The improvements will concentrate on ensuring that all visitors have a better view of the track. Other developments include an increase in the size of the Royal Enclosure, changes to the viewing areas of the Silver ring and measures to make the General Admission enclosure more comfortable and attractive.

Trainer turns thriller writer

Former trainer turned racing thriller writer Graeme Roe has been signed up by publishers Constable & Robinson. Roe published his first two novels A Touch of Vengeance and Odds On Death himself. His third novel Dangerous Outsider is to be published in the spring. With the backing of a successful publishing house Roe is expected to join the likes of Dick Francis, John Francome and Jenny Pitman in the bestseller lists.

Top jockey behind bars

A leading flat jockey spent three days in custody last week after pleading guilty to several charges, including possessing an unlicensed shotgun. John Egan, 38, pleaded guilty to harassing his estranged wife and being drunk in possession of a vehicle when he appeared before Bury St Edmunds magistrates court on 4 December. The jockey enjoyed a great season this year with two Group One wins and a host of other victories. At a hearing at Ipswich Crown Court on 7 December, Mr Egan was granted bail, on the condition that he does not contact his wife. He will be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court at a later date.

British Racing School awarded Beacon Status

The British Racing School was awarded Beacon status by the Quality Improvement Agency at a ceremony in London last month. Beacon status honours excellence and innovation in education establishments. The British Racing School was the only training provider within the land-based sector to be recognised as “outstanding” in Ofsted reports this year.

“The award is a testament to the outstanding team here who are acutely aware of the need to constantly improve what we do and strive daily to better the excellent standards already achieved,” said Rory MacDonald, Chief Executive of the British Racing School.

Free point-to-point map in H&H

This week’s Horse & Hound is celebrating the early start of the point-to-point season with it’s special issue focusing on the sport, including the popular free pull-out map of 2007 point-to-point fixtures. The magazine includes reports of the first December meetings, interviews with veteran jockeys who refuse to hang up their boots, features on last year’s leading horse Cape Stormer and Cheltenham winner Latzod’alm, 12 pointers to follow this season and the best and worse of everything at point-to-point courses. Don’t miss out, it’s on sale at leading newsagents now. To find your nearest stockist try our “Find my nearest copy of…” service on the right of your screen.