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Punchestown Racecourse are delighted to welcome Coolmore as the new co-sponsors of the Grade 1 Mares Champion Hurdle on the final day of the 2021 Punchestown Festival, Saturday 1st May.
The Grade 1 Coolmore Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle benefits from an increased prize fund as a result of the collaboration and at €120,000 it becomes the most valuable mares race over hurdles in Ireland and the UK.
This will be the eighth running of the two-and-a-half-mile championship contest and thus far champion trainer Willie Mullins has landed six out of seven including back-to-back doubles with stars such as Annie Power and Benie Des Dieux. It was in 2017 that their former stablemate Apples Jade interrupted the clean sweep.
Albert Sherwood, manager of Coolmore’s Grange Stud said: “Coolmore are delighted to support Punchestown and the mares programme in sponsoring this Grade 1. Cheltenham showed the quality of true National Hunt-bred racemares around at the moment so hopefully we’re in for another great renewal.”
John O’Connor, Chairman of Irish EBF commented: “Irish EBF welcomes Coolmore as co-sponsor of this illustrious Grade one mares hurdle race. This collaboration will further enhance the rewards for mares and continue to attract quality runners who in turn will enhance the breeding stock for the future. Irish EBF has a strong record of supporting National Hunt mares races, with recent winners showcasing how well the programme is working. The Irish EBF board are committed to continue that focus into the future.”
Punchestown CEO Conor O’Neill welcomed the announcement: “The benefits of a strategically enhanced mares programme are plain for all to see with fantastic performances in recent weeks. This grade 1 championship mares race was introduced in 2013 and has been backed by the Irish EBF ever since. The further support from a such a prestigious organisation as Coolmore elevates the race to the next level, in fact to the top level as the race is now the richest of its type in Ireland and the UK. We look forward to seeing what superstar adds her name to the list of winners.”
Entries for the 2021 Coolmore Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle will be available from Monday 12th April.
The Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes has attracted another huge entry of 361 horses for the second running of the race which is scheduled for Naas Racecourse on Bank Holiday Monday August 2, 2021. The race, which has a minimum prize-fund of €200,000, has attracted 240 entries from Irish based connections and 121 from Britain, there are 200 colts and geldings and 161 fillies, including Missing Matron winner of the opening two-year-old race of the season for Jim Bolger at the Curragh.
95 individual sires are represented with entries in the race headed by Starspangledbanner with 22 entries, Kodiac with 16, both Dandy Man and Profitable have 15 entries each followed by Acclamation with 14. The race is aimed at the progeny of sires with a median sales price of no more than €75,000 at last year’s yearling sales who are also EBF eligible, with weight allowances for horses with a lower median sire price.
Horse Racing Ireland, Irish EBF and Ballyhane Stud will again examine the possibility of increasing the prize-fund and staging a second race to provide more opportunities for the large number of entries received. Last year’s inaugural running of the race saw the prize-fund being enhanced to an impressive €320,000 with prize-money awarded to all finishers and the staging of a second race, the €80,000 Silver Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes, which gave connections more opportunities to claim some of the €400,000 prize-money on offer.
Kevin Prendergast, Trainer, said; “The race is a great incentive for two-year-olds to win a big pot whilst giving owners and trainers an opportunity to win big money. Having been just beaten in it last year, I will certainly be hoping to go one better this year.”
Joe Foley, owner of Ballyhane Stud, said; “It’s encouraging to see another huge entry from owners and trainers for the second running of the race and their support is much appreciated. We are delighted to, once again, attach a €50,000 bonus to the winner’s prizemoney if it’s by a Ballyhane stallion and also offer a complimentary Ballyhane nomination to the winning breeder. This is a significant prize to target for anyone with a qualifying two-year-old and everyone in Ballyhane is delighted to be associated with this fantastic event which we co-sponsor with the Irish European Breeders Fund .”
John O’Connor, Chairman, Irish EBF, said; “The Irish EBF Board are pleased to see such large entries again for a race that is only in its second year. It shows that there is great demand from owners and trainers with horses in this section of the market, utilising the median price of the sire as a race condition, allows both homebred and auction bought horses compete on a level playing field. Between this lucrative race, the twenty-six Median Sires Series races and the twenty-seven Auction Series races, there is at least €1.6 million of prize-money on offer in these Irish EBF supported races for connections of two-year-olds this year.”
Eamonn McEvoy, Manager, Naas Racecourse, commented; “Brilliant to see such a high number of entries for the richest race at Naas, the Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes. We are delighted to be working with Ballyhane Stud and the Irish EBF again this year. The race last year was an enormous success and we look forward to another exciting renewal. It is fantastic concept and we feel it will work well for years to come.”
Each month, our partners at the European Bloodstock News, highlight British based stallions who have caught the eye with their progeny, either on the track or at the sales. To kick off 2021, we have a round up of stallions which are new to the rosters of British studs – those newly retired from racing and those that have moved to new homes. We are looking forward to the year ahead and all the sires which will catch the eye throughout the year.
Stallions featured in the EBF/ EBN Stallion Focus will go on to a long list of nominees for the annual British EBF Stallion Special Merit Award at the TBA Flat Celebration event the following summer. The award is not statistics based but recognises stallions that have achieved milestones or that have excelled with their progeny.
Funding provided by the British EBF has been recognised as findings of a DNA investigation highlighting the ‘unbridled globetrotting’ of the Strangles pathogen in horses is published.
In the largest ever study of its kind into an equine pathogen, which was published today in the journal ‘Microbial Genomics’, scientists in 18 countries used the latest DNA sequencing techniques to track the bacteria Streptococcus equi as it caused the disease strangles in horses around the world.
Strangles, caused by Streptococcus equi, is the most frequently diagnosed infectious disease of horses, with 600 outbreaks estimated to occur in the United Kingdom each year. Streptococcus equi invades the lymph nodes of head and neck, causing them to swell and form abscesses that can literally strangle, in around 2% of cases, the horse to death. Some of the horses that recover from strangles remain persistently infected. These apparently healthy animals shed bacteria into the environment and spread the disease to other horses with which they come into contact.
“Using standard diagnostic testing, the Streptococcus equi strains look almost identical, however by carefully examining the DNA of the bacteria, we have been able to track different variants as they spread across the world” said Prof. Matthew Holden of the University of St Andrews.
“Piecing the puzzle together, we showed that cases in Argentina, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates were closely linked. Along with other examples, we provide evidence that the global trade and movement of horses is helping to spread the disease.”
“Building on top of the data generated, we provide an online surveillance platform for strangles enabling labs to upload and interpret their genomic and epidemiological data in close to real-time. Pathogenwatch will be used to monitor the emergence and spread of new lineages to help inform interventions and policy making decisions” said Prof David Aanensen of The Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance, University of Oxford.
“Strangles was first described in medieval times and, with the exception of Iceland, affects horses in all corners of the world. Freedom from this disease enjoyed by Iceland is by virtue of a ban on the import of horses, which has been in place for over 1,000 years” commented Prof. James Gilkerson of the University of Melbourne and Chair of the International Equine Infectious Diseases Committee. “This new study provides evidence of the important role played by the movement of horses in spreading this disease, providing new opportunities for interventions that prevent future outbreaks.”
“This has been an incredible team effort, which was only possible through the collaboration of leading researchers from twenty-nine different scientific institutes in eighteen countries” said Dr. Andrew Waller of Intervacc AB.
“Horses are transported all over the world as they move to new premises or attend competitions and events. New cases of strangles can be prevented by treating carriers before they pass on the bacteria. This new research in the field of strangles and the new online Pathogenwatch resource provide an opportunity to track the course of infections, reigning-in Streptococcus equi’s globetrotting lifestyle by shutting the stable door before this horse pathogen has bolted!”
Simon Sweeting, Chairman of the British EBF, commented:
“Equine veterinary research is an integral part of the British European Breeders’ Fund’s support for the horse racing and breeding industry. The Trustees are delighted to have been able to provide financial resources to Dr Waller and his international colleagues, which has enabled this vital work on tracking and managing the Strangles pathogen in the horse population.”
Since 2000, they have wholly or partly funded veterinary research covering subjects as diverse as the Equine Genome Project and the identification of virulence factors associated with Rhodococcus. In recent years, the focus has been on research specifically relating to the breeding industry and has covered areas such as the effects of light and temperature on delayed ovulation and an extensive study in to potential alternatives to traditional parasite control in thoroughbred mares and young-stock.
About Intervacc: Intervacc AB is a Swedish company within animal health developing safe, effective vaccines for animals. The Company’s vaccine candidates are based on several years of research at Karolinska Institutet and Swedish University of Agricultural Research where the foundation was laid for the Company´s research and development work