Sunday, November 24, 2013

Premier Information: Richard Hannon retires to hand the reigns to Richard Hannon Junior

We reproduce the article below courtesy of the Racing Post.

THE long and glorious career of Britain's champion Flat trainer Richard Hannon will officially come to an end next month after he revealed to the Racing Post that son and assistant Richard jnr will take over the stable's training licence on January 1.

Hannon, who became champion for the fifth time this month, has written to owners, including the Queen, informing them that he will stand down at the end of the year.

In a glittering career that has endured since 1970, Hannon has been associated with a large number of top-class horses, including most recently star milers Canford Cliffs, Toronado and Olympic Glory.

The 68-year-old also this year trained his fourth British Classic winner when outstanding filly Sky Lantern landed the 1,000 Guineas under son-in-law and stable jockey Richard Hughes.

Hannon said on Thursday: "It has been a long career and I've trained a lot of winners but it's about time that Richard got his name on the roster of trainers.

"It was always going to happen, but Richard jnr has served his apprenticeship and you cannot keep him waiting forever. Ian Balding passed the baton to Andrew and Barry Hills did likewise to Charlie, and it is only right that Richard should now take over.

"We thought long and hard as to when to make the announcement, but I wanted to make sure all my owners knew first, especially the Queen, and now that all the yearlings are in for next season it is the appropriate moment to let everyone know. After all, it is Richard's 38th birthday today - what better present could he ask for?

"Inevitably, people will say that I have retired, but I will still be up and out at first lot and assisting Richard instead of him assisting me.

"It is not my style to lay in bed all morning - I love being with the horses, but these past couple of seasons I have started to wind down and go racing less.

"I will still go to Newbury and Salisbury and also Royal Ascot and Goodwood, but I am now 68 and maybe it is time that I dropped down a gear.

"The quality of horses he has definitely improved these last two or three years, and that is down to Richard jnr. It was him who brought in Sheikh Hamdan [Al Maktoum] and Sheikh Joaan [Al Thani] among others, and we can now go to the bloodstock sales with fatter cheque books than we have done in the past."

Hannon also reflected on some of the horses he has been involved with.

He added: "I have been lucky enough to have trained some great horses. The first Classic winner is always special and I will never forget Mon Fils [1973] landing that Guineas, while Tirol and Don't Forget Me also have prominent places in the scrapbook, but there have been plenty of others, notably Canford Cliffs, Paco Boy, Toronado, Sky Lantern and Olympic Glory.

"We have one more roll of the dice this year, Sky Lantern in the Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on December 8. We have enjoyed another fabulous season, with seven Group 1 winners and £5.5 million in prize-money, but it would be nice to finish with one more biggie, and maybe Sky Lantern can make the dream become reality. She is very well and she will love the fast ground out there.

"Then who knows Richard jnr might get off to a flying start by winning the 2,000 Guineas with Toormore or one of the others. Now that would be the perfect lift-off, wouldn't it?"

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Premier Information: Big Mac Loses His Case

Interesting to see that John McCririck has lost his case against Channel 4. At Premier Information, we're always interested to see what's happening in the racing world!

The article below is reproduced courtesy of the Daily Mail.

John McCririck has lost his age discrimination case against Channel 4 after an employment tribunal ruled against him.

The 73-year-old argued that he was sacked as a racing pundit by the broadcaster because of his age.
But today a Central London Employment Tribunal panel ruled against him and accepted Channel 4's argument that the decision was made for commercial reasons.

Mr McCririck claimed he was dumped from his high-profile role on Channel 4 Racing by 'anonymous suits and skirts' as part of a drive to hire younger faces.

The pundit, famed for his deerstalker hat and gold jewellery, took his former employer and TV production company IMG Media Limited to the tribunal, alleging his sacking last year was motivated by age discrimination.

Both firms denied discrimination in the £3million case.

Mr McCririck said today: 'This is an historic setback for all employees in their 30s to their 70s.
'After such a landmark judicial verdict, my failed legal action ensures that anonymous suits and skirts, who control the media, numerous other businesses and the public sector, will now enjoy complete freedom to replace older employees whatever their unimpaired ability and merit.

'I have let them all down along with my wife, the Booby, my legal team, friends, colleagues and countless members of the public who supported me throughout. My grateful thanks and apologies to every one of them.

'Former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett MP said in August, "The way TV executives worship the cult of youth seems to be an unstoppable fetish." It is now.

'With my legal team we are now out of contact while studying the judgment in detail.'

During the hearing Mr McCririck admitted that he made sexist remarks and behaved rudely on screen, particularly when appearing in reality TV shows such as Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Wife Swap.

However, he insisted that he only did so as part of a 'pantomime' role which had been encouraged by Channel 4 in order to promote him as a memorable character.

Witnesses from the broadcaster and production company said that he was considered 'offensive' and 'disgusting', leading to his sacking when Channel 4 hired IMG to produce its racing programmes and unveiled a new presenting team headed by Clare Balding.

In closing submissions Thomas Linden QC, counsel for Channel 4, said McCririck had suggested he could switch from one 'thoroughly obnoxious' persona to another, more serious one.

But he insisted this was not true, saying that bosses could not ask the presenter, 'Please be clean-shaven, please wear a grey suit, please don't go for this extravagant manner, please don't portray yourself as slightly mad, please don't be aggressive with the public.'

Mr Linden told the tribunal that a survey suggested that McCririck was highly unpopular with viewers.
'Even without data, it's a reasonable assumption, isn't it, that the claimant's profile, whether that is in his reality television programmes or in racing broadcasting, was off-putting to many,' he said.
'A lot of racing viewers are right-thinking people who find this sort of behaviour obnoxious.'
Jennifer Eady QC, representing Mr McCririck, told the panel the 73-year-old had already suffered the humiliation of having his days and hours cut but had carried on working.

'Why? Because Mr McCririck was passionate about this job,' she said. 'If there was one thing he loved doing it was this and he had done it for 28 years.

'It was hard to draw any conclusion other than this was his life.'

She said IMG wanted a 'younger, sexier, more glamorous' programme, which had influenced the decision to axe McCririck from its coverage.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Premier Information: King George Entries

With the jumps season moving forward it was interesting to see the current contenders for the King George for Boxing Day.  
Below, courtesy of the Racing Post, you can read about the leading players.
LONG RUN, winner of two of the last three editions of the William Hill King George VI Chase, and last year's runner-upCaptain Chris top a high-class list of 30 entries for the Christmas highlight.

Paul Nicholls, who sent out Kauto Star to win a record five runnings of the King George, has Al Ferof, Rolling Aces,Silviniaco Conti and Tidal Bay engaged while Long Run's trainer Nicky Henderson has also entered Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth, Captain Conan, Finian's Rainbow and Riverside Theatre.

Willie Mullins, who won the King George with Florida Pearl in 2001, has Sir Des Champs and Prince De Beauchene in the field while Lord Windermere, Mount Benbulben, Flemenstar,Argocat, Rubi Light and Roi Du Mee have also been entered from Ireland.

Katenko is one of two entries in the King George for trainer Venetia Williams, along with Houblon Des Obeaux, and he has been cut to 14-1 (from 20) by Betfred for the Paddy Power Gold Cup next Saturday after being allotted 11st6lb on Wednesday.

Top weight of 11st12lb is Finian's Rainbow, while recent Old Roan Chase winner Conquisto is on 11st3lb.

Conquisto's trainer Steve Gollings said on Wednesday: "Conquisto has come out of the Old Roan 100 per cent and I could not be happier with him.

"He is in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, but nothing is certain yet. We will assess the race at the next stage and take it from there, but other possibilities include the Amlin Chase at Ascot and the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon. It's exciting stuff."

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Friday, November 1, 2013

Premier Information: National Hunt Horses

National Hunt racing is an extreme test of basic physical qualities in a horse – soundness, endurance and durability.  Although speed and jumping ability are essential requirements of any winning performance, these talents will never be fully realised unless a horse has the ability to withstand the constant rigours inherent in this code of racing.

The ever present unpredictable element posed in a race by obstacles and injury conspires to make National Hunt racing a powerful leveller of horses and men.   This ensures it retains its original sporting flavour, attracting many supporters, owners, etc, from farming and country communities where there is an appreciation of the difficulties, uncertainties and patience required to bring a National Hunt horse to full racing maturity.   Many successful National Hunt horses have bred and reared by their owners, whose sympathetic interest and involvement have made certain the horse has been given unhurried consideration to establish a racing career.   Success emanating from such an approach cannot be simply bought, and this aspect of the National Hunt horse has less attraction for the sometimes business-minded Flat race owner who looks for a faster return on investment.

Whilst the racing life of a flat racehorse may be short, The National Hunt horse avoiding serious injury can expect five or six seasons, involving a two part career.   First as a hurdler and then as a chaser.

The length of time a horse spends as a hurdler or chaser will be determined by the age at which it embarked on a National Hunt career and what was considered initially as its possible forte.   A hurdler is considered to be at its peak at six or seven years of age and a chaser is thought normally to be at the height of its powers at nine or ten years of age.

We will continue to look at National Hunt horses in the next part of this article which will appear here soon.

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