Racing week: Best Mate out of action

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  • A bad week for

    Best Mate’s trainer Henrietta Knight, his owner Jim Lewis and jockey Jim Culloty, plus his legions of fans following the news that he will not run in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. The 10-year-old gelding burst a blood vessel during work on Mick Channon’s West Ilsley gallops. He will not run again this season. Read the full story >>

    But a good week for

    Channel 4, which has won in its bid to introduce the use of speed-sensing equipment in certain races. The BHB is to make the chips compulsory in certain races after 1 June 2005. Trainers who do not comply with the new rule may be fined. The BHB hopes that the information collected by the equipment will have potential commercially at a time when the sport’s financial position hangs in the balance.

    Over the water

    The five Californian ladies, all divorced, who have clubbed together as a First Wives’ Club to invest in racing, have no interest in seeking revenge on their ex-husbands. The quintet is much more focused these days on success at the track for A Lil’ Alimony, the filly they bought for $12,500 last year. She has already won $32,000. So far, this time at least, a marriage made in heaven.


    “Whoever wins the Gold Cup this year has only borrowed it!” — Best Mate’s owner Jim Lewis was positive that Best Mate will return in 2006 to regain his crown during an At The Races interview.

    More, more, more

    William Hill returned profits of £218.8 million for 2004, up 20% on the previous 12 months, and a record gross win of £722.1m. Shareholders have been promised dividends totalling £453m, a handy fund for next week at the Festival.

    Most, most, most

    Sir Michael Stoute has the biggest permanent stable in Britain, according to Horses in Training. Stoute is listed as having 189 inmates at his yard for 2005, up from 184 last year. Note that Godolphin is absent from Horses in Training, published this month, and is expected to have 300 horses in Newmarket this summer.

    Safety in numbers

    Aidan O’Brien’s 24 entries for this year’s Derby at the first forfeit stage have boosted nominations to 162, the second highest at this point since 1995. Only 2000, when 171 were declared, topped that mark.

    Spinal research support

    Former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody took part in the Reading Half Marathon on 6 March to raise money for the national charity Spinal Research. He was sponsored by Racing Pulses, a Hampshire-based company that organises racing-orientated events where single people can meet up and socialise. Dunwoody is also planning to take part in the Great North Run in September. To donate funds securely online visit: www.justgiving.com/rdunwoodyappeal.


    Alan Jones, the Devon trainer who was fined £850 by the Jockey Club in January for a positive post-race test but was cleared of administering any illegal drugs, thinks he has traced the source of the drug to a feeding programme used to build up condition several months before the horse even came into his yard. Fellow trainers should take note.

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