Jockey Club CEO Proposes New Champion Series For Jump Racing
Jockey Club CEO Simon Bazalgette claimed that racehorse Sprinter Sacre "can help drive the popularity of jump racing for years to come as it seeks to restructure the calendar to provide the season with more highlights" in the run-up to the Cheltenham Festival, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Bazalgette admitted the jump racing season became "a bit dull" after Christmas, and said he would be leading talks to restructure it in order to boost the season beyond Cheltenham week, using the Champions Series on the Flat as a template. Confirming that it was "exploring a range of funding options for a long overdue but potentially controversial redevelopment of the Cheltenham course," he insisted that the revamp "would not rob the meeting of its soul in the face of possible objections from those in stands that will have to be demolished." With the Cheltenham Festival pulling in record attendances on the first three days and selling out a purposefully reduced capacity of 67,000 on Gold Cup day, Bazalgette said that the emergence of Sprinter Sacre, who powered to victory by 19 lengths in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, "was important for the sport." Bazalgette: "You've got to have the stars. They are what gets the most interest." The Jockey Club "has been reluctant to confirm its plans to redevelop the course until it has applied for planning permission later this year." However, the club is "examining a number of financing options" for the £40M ($60M) scheme, expected to take at least three years, from bank loans to long term debentures or a bond scheme for "high net worth individuals" (GUARDIAN, 3/15).
ARABIAN HORSE CHAMPIONSHIP: In Dubai, Leslie Wilson Jr. reported "a record number of horses, including seven multiple world champions, will be seen in action" when the Dubai Int'l Arabian Horse Championship celebrates it 10th anniversary. The event, which is a unique competition for Purebred Arabian horses will be held at the Dubai Int'l Convention and Exhibition center from Thursday to Saturday. Horses from 24 countries "will be competing for prizes" totalling some $4M (GULF NEWS, 3/17).