WARNER CONFIDENCE GROWS AHEAD OF DETROIT'S BOYLESPORTS.COM INTERNATIONAL BID
Owner Terry Warner is confident that star grey Detroit City can carry his famous yellow and black colours to victory in the £200,000 Boylesports.com International over two miles and a furlong at Cheltenham on Saturday, December 9.
The Boylesports.com International is one of the season's premier races for Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle candidates. Boylesports, Ireland's fastest growing independent bookmaker, has transformed the prize money and is also offering a huge £200,000 bonus (£180,000 to the owner, £10,000 to the trainer & £10,000 to the yard's stable staff) to any horse that can win the Boylesports.com International and the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 13.
Warner was thrilled with the Philip Hobbs-trained Detroit City's impressive victory under top-weight in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on November 12, a win that evoked memories of the owner's late Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle victor Rooster Booster (also trained by Hobbs), who won the same contest in 2002 before capturing the predecessor to the Boylesports.com International and that season's Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle.
The owner revealed this morning: "Detroit City is on course for the Boylesports.com International. We called in to see him at the yard the other day and he looks a million dollars. He's very well and Philip (Hobbs) is pleased with him.
"It's very good prize money and the £200,000 bonus is tremendous. Owners like myself are always pleased when new sponsors come in, especially if they're offering another £200,000 for winning both races!"
Back In Front (2004) and Harchibald (2005) have taken the last two runnings of what is now the Boylesports.com International and Irish-trained horses have also captured the last three renewals of the Smurfit-Kappa Champion Hurdle, with Rooster Booster's 2003 success the last by a British-trained horse.
Warner, however, is growing increasingly confident that Detroit City has what it takes to bring the hurdling crown back to Britain.
He said: "It was interesting watching the opposition in the Morgiana Hurdle in Ireland on Sunday. I wouldn't be worried about Brave Inca now - he has to improve an awful lot on that run.
"Iktitaf is a nice horse who has done everything they've asked. He won the Irish Cesarewitch on the Flat, but Detroit City carried the equivalent of a stone more in the English Cesarewitch, so I'm getting more confident by the minute.
"He didn't beat so much in the Greatwood Hurdle - I don't get too carried away - but he did it very well, and although it wasn't a fast time, it was the fastest time of the day.
"I'm growing more confident with him because he's a stronger horse than last season. Richard Johnson felt he cruised down the Cheltenham hill last time and he let him go his own pace. He won so easily and Richard never had to ask him. He only made a mistake at the last because he was so far clear that Richard steadied him instead of pinging it.
"We're very pleased with the horse and we're quite hopeful now. It would be nice to follow up in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle. The only thing against him is the stats. He'll only be five and the last five-year-old to win it was See You Then in 1985."
Warner believes there could be more improvement to come from the four-year-old who has won five of six hurdles starts, including the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival in March, and has not tasted defeat since finishing eighth on his hurdling debut at Warwick in December, 2005.
He commented: "Detroit City is a great big horse - he's 17 hands - so we'd like to think there's more to come from him. We gave him a little breathing operation which seems to have helped him at the start of this season. He's won six on the trot so he's a great favourite of mine.
"Everyone keeps telling me he wants further but he broke the track record in the JCB Triumph Hurdle and the trainer and jockey seem to be coming round to my way of thinking now.
"If all goes well, providing he's fit and healthy, he's on target for the Boylesports.com International and then we'll hopefully take him back to Cheltenham for the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle."
The newly-named Boylesports International showcases two days of fantastic racing at Cheltenham on Friday, December 8, and Saturday, December 9, and also features the £150,000 Boylesports.com Gold Cup, which has received a £40,000 boost thanks to Boylesports' generous sponsorship.
The two mile, five furlong handicap chase, which is another highlight on Saturday's excellent seven-race card, saw 16 high-class chasers go to post last year and was won by the Noel Meade-trained Sir Oj, who defeated Le Passing by a length with subsequent Betfred Gold Cup victor Lacdoudal five lengths further back in third.
Day one of the two-day Boylesports International on Friday, December 8, features the three mile, one and a half furlong Boylepoker.com Chase and the handicap carries fantastic doubled prize money of £100,000.
The Boylesports International will be staged on Cheltenham's New Course, which has not been used since May.
NIC COWARD TO LEAD THE BRITISH HORSERACING AUTHORITY
Nic Coward has been appointed as the first Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the new governing and regulatory authority for British Racing.
Coward, 40, will work alongside BHA's first Chairman Paul Roy - whose appointment was announced last month - from the organisation's inception early in 2007, when it will assume the current governance role of the British Horseracing Board (BHB) and the regulatory functions carried out by the Horseracing Regulatory Authority (HRA).
After 10 years at The Football Association, Coward left in 2004 to join AS Biss & Co, recently voted 2006 public affairs consultancy of the year. He has been Deputy Chairman since July 2005, and helped establish its leading sports advocacy service.
Nic joined The FA as its first solicitor from City firm Freshfields, later becoming Corporate and Legal Affairs Director, and spending almost two years as joint Acting CEO. He was responsible for a wide range of areas, from The FA's broadcast and sponsorship deals and competitions, through to the refereeing and disciplinary system for the whole of football, as well as policy and government relations.
More recently, he has advised the board of the Premier League on legal, governance and regulatory issues, and chairs a coalition of national and international sports bodies that are campaigning together in commercial, broadcasting and sports betting areas. He is Honorary Treasurer of the Central Council for Physical Recreation, the trade association for sport and recreation bodies, and a non-executive director of the Sports Dispute Resolution Panel.
Speaking today of his appointment he said: "This is a hugely exciting time for Racing. The industry has come together to put in place new structures that will enable it to address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I am looking forward to working with Paul Roy, the Board, staff and all the organisations that together create the sport, to bring the BHA to life and deliver the best for British Racing."
Paul Roy, BHA's Chairman-designate, said: "Nic has a highly successful track record at the FA. He has wide experience in both governance and regulation and is an independent, strategic thinker who will help to establish swiftly BHA's identity. I am very much looking forward to working with him."
Both appointments were overseen by a Nominations Panel comprising Robert Hughes (Chairman, Horserace Betting Levy Board), John Bridgeman (Chairman, HRA) and Martin Broughton (Chairman, BHB), and Coward's selection was ratified by BHA's four Members: the Racecourse Association, the Racehorse Owners Association, the Thoroughbred Breeders Association and a group combining licensed personnel in the sport, led by the National Trainers Federation.
Robert Hughes said: "Nic Coward has an outstanding track record in sports administration and I am sure that he and Paul Roy will make an excellent team to lead the British Horseracing Authority."
John Bridgeman said: "I am delighted that we have managed to secure Nic's services for this vital role. His regulatory experience, combined with the racing experience of our Executive team and with Paul Roy as Chairman, should ensure an exciting future for the regulation and governance of British Horseracing."
Martin Broughton said: "We entered the recruitment process for BHA's Chief Executive believing that an individual from within the sport was preferable, but Nic's enthusiastic approach towards the issues in Racing, allied with his extensive experience in sports administration meant that he soon emerged as the exceptional candidate for the role."
THE JUMPERS RETURN TO CATTERICK ON WEDNESDAY
Catterick’s 2006/07 season over Jumps begins on Wednesday (November 29) – the first of nine scheduled days’ Jumping at the North Yorkshire track during the campaign, which concludes in early March.
The action on Wednesday afternoon is due to start at 12-10 p.m. with The Richmondshire Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, while the seven-race programme features a pair of £10,000 contests, The Westwood Timber & Fencing Handicap Chase over two miles and The Book Now For 28th December Handicap Chase, a race for stayers over the extended three miles and one furlong, won last year by course specialist, Forest Dante, owned and trained near Northallerton by Fred Kirby. Dalton-on-Tees based company, Westwood Timber & Fencing support racing for the first time at Catterick.
Keith Reveley and Richie McGrath were the leading trainer and jockey respectively during Catterick’s last season over Jumps, while Dougie Costello was the course’s top Conditional rider in the competitions sponsored by International Racecourse Management Ltd., the company which administers racing at Catterick. Graham and Andrea Wylie were the leading owners during the campaign. It is hoped that presentations can be made to the respective winners on Wednesday.