Tradition takes second place to world broadcasting and World Pools

The importance of world broadcasting of racing and the newly-established, pari-mutuel-based World Pool for the Royal Ascot meeting in the UK next week has seen tradition take a second place next Wednesday, June 19th.

Ascot Racecourse stage their feature race on each afternoon of the five-day Royal Meeting at 4.20pm. However, the Group 1 Prince of Wales Stakes (2000m) on Wednesday will be run at 3.40pm so that it will be broadcast before midnight for assist fans watching on television in Japan.

The Mitsuru Hashida trained Deirdre (JPN) races in the Prince of Wales Stakes and while the five-year-old Harbinger mare might be an outsider in the field she will have support from Japan.

Deirdre (JPN) at Sha Tin in April, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Deirdre (JPN) at Sha Tin in April, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club

Ascot's director of racing and communications Nick Smith said: "We want the race to go off before midnight in Japan, which brings with it a significantly higher audience.

"One of the keys to everything we do is international engagement, so with the blessing of ITV, who agree that raising our global audience and profile is important, we have switched the Prince of Wales's Stakes with the Duke of Cambridge Stakes.

"Had the circumstances needed us to move the Prince of Wales's to race two, we probably wouldn't have done it. Making it race three doesn't really matter, not least as it used to be the traditional position for the feature race," he said.

Not only is the broadcasting audience important the wagering impact is considerable with the Ascot World Pool the first of its kind developed by the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), in partnership with Ascot Racecourse and Totepool.

The HKJC will for the first time simulcast all five days of Royal Ascot, from 18 June (Tuesday) to 22 June (Saturday).

It is expected that the World Pool will offer a strong value proposition to all overseas and Hong Kong customers on the Royal Ascot meeting. It also further positions Hong Kong as the international hub of co-mingling.

Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are delighted to provide a global tote offering for one of the world’s leading racing brands, Royal Ascot.

“This moment represents the beginning of a new era in international racing and solidifies Hong Kong’s position as the global hub for co-mingling. The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s wagering operation is recognised as being among the world leaders in integrity and management processes, as well as with regard to its wagering technology.”

Overseas pari-mutuel wagers placed through partners from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and the United States will be co-mingled into Hong Kong’s pools either directly or via Totepool during Royal Ascot. This will ensure maximum liquidity and stronger opportunities for customers across the globe on the Royal Ascot meeting.

The wagering partners from the Asian Racing Federation (ARF) is not the only ARF involvement in the 2019 Royal Ascot meeting.

Along with Deirdre there are three other ARF countries with runners at the meeting.

From Australia the Toby Edmonds trained Houtzen (AUS) will contest the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) on Tuesday, June 18th, as will New Zealand’s Enzo’s Lad (NZ), trained by Michael Pittman.

On Saturday, June 22nd, Singapore’s Lim’s Cruiser, trained by Stephen Gray, will run in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m).

Australian jockey’s Kerrin McEvoy and James McDonald will also be in action over the meeting.

In other news from last weekend the Japanese owned Re Edit (AUS) was ninth in the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm, Brisbane. The Camelot filly, trained by Chris Waller, was a brave second at the 400m under McDonald before fading in the main straight.

In New York the Koichi Tsunoda trained Master Fencer (JPN) finished fifth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes (2400m).

Master Fencer, by triple Grade 1 champion in Japan Just a Way out of the Deputy Minister dam Sexy Zamurai, crossed the finish line almost three lengths behind the race’s new champion Sir Winston, trained by Mark Casse.

Tsunoda and jockey Julien Leparoux were gracious in defeat as they attempted to improve on Lani’s third-place finish in 2016 under Yutake Take in the “Test of the Champion.” Master Fencer was the eighth pick in the final leg of the U.S. Triple Crown.

“The horse was in excellent form and ran as well as he could,” the French-born Leparoux said of Master Fencer, who will leave for his trip back to Japan on Thursday. “But the pace was slow and I tried to get him going ahead of the final bend but he got left behind. He showed a lot of kick down the stretch, however, something he can be proud of.”

Master Fencer was trying to become the first Japanese-trained horse to win a Grade 1 dirt race on United States soil.

Tsunoda felt his horse could have done better but still proud of Master Fencer at the same time.

“We got off to a good start. The pace was gentle early on but it picked up going into the next to last turn and he just couldn’t keep up,” he said.

“It’s all part and parcel of racing so it is what it is but it’s tough to deal with because we were all in it to help Master Fencer win. The horse ran his heart out for sure. We’ll have to see how he recovers before deciding on when to race him next.”