Racing week: Fond farewell to Best Mate

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  • Best Mate’s ashes will be laid to rest behind the winning post at Cheltenham racecourse in a brief public ceremony prior to racing at 11.00am on Saturday, 10 December.

    Best Mate’s owner, Jim Lewis, is pleased that Henrietta Knight’s star chaser will be honoured in a place that will always be in view of the race-going public.

    He said: “Best Mate became the ‘people’s champion.’ They loved him and he loved them. He will be at rest at the scene of his greatest triumphs.”

    Edward Gillespie of Cheltenham racecourse added: “One cannot overstate the contribution Best Mate has made to our sport and, as the highest achieving champion since Arkle, he will continue to witness the race he made his own.”

    Hedgehunter back in action

    Last year’s Grand National winner, Hedgehunter, will start his campaign to follow in the footsteps of Red Rum and recapture the prestigious Aintree title when he races over hurdles at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

    The decision to run the nine-year-old over a mixture of hurdles and fences mirrors his preparation for the big race last year. Trainer Willie Mullins will undoubtedly hope that things go more smoothly in Hedgehunter’s preparation this time, after he suffered a series of set backs prior to Aintree last year.

    Boost for racing wannabes

    A mammoth recruitment drive aimed at remedying a shortage of good racing staff, while dispelling misconceptions of an industry focused purely on jockeys and trainers, will be launched in 2006.

    The campaign, “More Careers in Racing”, is described as the biggest push in the past 20 years. Phase one of a tailor-made recruitment website will go live in January, offering career information, with phase two opening the door to a job postings board in April-June.

    British Horseracing Board (BHB) head of industry, recruitment and training Sara Hay-Jahans said: “People don’t think about racing as a first choice,” she said. “Even those going into equine studies don’t think of it as a natural career choice.”

    Non-triers rule revisited

    The Jockey Club is to redraft the “non-triers” rule to make it clear what is required from jockeys if they wish to avoid coming before the disciplinary panel. Following the recent case involving the running of the Henrietta Knight-trained Harringay, the current rule has been called into question. The new draft is currently with the Jockey Club’s lawyers and is expected to be in place before the end of the year.

    Awards for stable staff

    The search for racing’s best stable staff is on, with nominations for the £50,000 Stable Staff of the Year Awards now being taken. The competition is now in its second year and is organised by the British Horseracing Board to acknowledge the vital but often unrecognised role that stable staff play in British racing and breeding. For more details visit: www.britishhorseracing.com

    Stars shine at Tattersalls

    Tattersalls saw a record year come to a close yesterday as the final lots of the marathon nine-day December Sale went under the hammer. Bloodstock buyers spent more than 185 million guineas at the organisation’s sales across the year, an increase of a staggering 50% on last year’s figures. The five-year-old mare Moments of Joy, out of the 1997 Yorkshire Oaks winner My Emma and in foal to Refuse to Bend, topped the December Sale at 1.65million guineas.

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