Racing week: Thumbs up for BBC Derby coverage

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  • A good week for . . .

    The BBC as viewing figures for its TV coverage of the Epsom Derby reached a five-year high. The corporation attracted a total of 3.2 million viewers to watch its Epsom coverage, with a peak of 2.9m viewers during Saturday’s Derby Day Grandstand programme. The Derby is the second most-watched race in the calendar after the Grand National.

    But a bad week for . . .

    Former assistant trainer Michael Harris, who removed the five-year-old thoroughbred My Bayard from Wolverhampton racecourse without the horse’s owner’s permission in November last year. Arrested by West Midland’s police following the horse’s disappearance, Harris faced the Jockey Club’s disciplinary inquiry yesterday to answer charges of “acting in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and reputation of the sport” and was disqualified from racing for a year.


    “We are now talking” — David Thorpe, chairman of the Racecourse Association, offers some hope for the continued coverage of racing on Channel 4 after the station’s 31 May deadline for a deal on costs passed. “Meaningful discussions” were continuing into June, confirmed Channel 4.

    Sweet smell of success

    Frankie Dettori was due to launch a fragrance and male grooming range of “customised head and shower gel, hair gel, deodorant spray and anti-perspirant” this week. The range is a mix of warm and aromatic oriental wood smells, including cedar, infused with bergamot and musks, plus delicate hints of pimiento for passion, apparently, along with refreshing patchouli, and vanilla and raspberry for a unique and sensual twist. To help you avoid smelling too much of horses, presumably.

    York prepares for the crowds

    Racegoers intending to travel to York for Royal Ascot next week are being encouraged to leave plenty of time for travelling and aim to arrive at the track by 12noon. Around 230,000 people are expected to visit the track over the five days and considerable work has been undertaken to make travel as easy as possible, although some congestion is undoubtedly to be expected. GNER is putting on five extra trains per day from London to York, with a fleet of mini buses on hand to take train travellers from the station to the racecourse.

    Murphy set for return

    Timmy Murphy is hopeful that he will be back in the saddle within the next fortnight, after spending six weeks on the sidelines with a broken arm. The injury occurred during a race at Punchestown, when the jockey was trampled after a fall in a hurdle race.

    Go ahead for speed sensors

    Racehorses will be required to carry speed sensors in certain races from 4 July, as part of a trial that runs until the end of September 2006. Some trainers were strongly against the measure when it was first suggested, but they are now liable for a fine of between £250and £1,000 if they fail to comply.

    Time, gentlemen please

    The Stable Lads’ Association agreed at the body’s annual general meeting to pursue claims for proper overtime pay. Current minimum rates compel trainers to pay only the national minimum wage for extra hours spent away from yards on stable duty.

    Artists of the month

    The Osborne Studio Gallery’s Impressions of the Turf exhibition opened on Tuesday. Showcased is the equine art of, among others, Alasdair Banks, Juliet Cursham, Mark Upton and Pat Eddery’s daughter, Nichola. You have until 1 July to check them out off London’s Motocomb Street.

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