World Racing Championships Disbands for '06

The troubled World Racing Championships announced Feb. 6 that it will pause its operation for 2006 and will study the feasibility of returning next year with a new merit award system that would give worldwide recognition to the best performers around the world.

"The past winners of our World Racing Championships awards have truly reflected the winning spirit to support the growth of great international competition," said Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland.

"As our member organizations look forward, we must provide a sharper focus on world rankings and recognition that can be widely tracked and accepted by the entire racing world."

The WRC committee is to work with the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities to develop a new system, he said.

Members promoted international racing with significant sponsorship contributions from Emirates Airlines during the first three years and Rolls Royce for one year. After being won by such stars as Daylami, Fantastic Light twice, and High Chaparral, the World Racing Championships saw its impact drop in the last couple of years after losing its sponsorship deal. It also lost recognition when the Dubai World Cup was withdrawn from the schedule.

In 2004, the German-trained Epalo was awarded the world championship on a count-back after tying with the Godolphin star Sulamani with the lowest score in the history of the event. Last year's winner, Vengeance Of Rain, became the first non-European to win while competing in only two of 13 events, both in Hong Kong.

The WRC is a joint venture formed in 1999 to provide a global showcase for the world's most prestigious international horse races. Its members include many of the leading race event organizers in the world, including Horse Racing Ireland, Arlington Park Racecourse, Ascot Racecourse, the Baden Baden Internationaler Club, Breeders' Cup, France Galop, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Japan Racing Association, Moonee Valley Racing Club, Singapore Turf Club, and Woodbine Entertainment Group.

"While no timetable is set for a relaunch of the World Racing Championships in a new format, the members will continue their full commitment and cooperation to showcase international competition at its highest levels in racing," Kavanagh added.