There will soon be more opportunities for veteran chasers thanks to a new series to run next year.
There are 11 races for veteran chases in the 2015 programme.
The Veterans’ Chase Series has been created to generate more opportunities for quality 10-year-old-plus chasers, like the 11-year-old Pigeon Island (pictured) who might have found winning chances limited in other valuable races.
Seven of the races in the next year’s series are completely new to the programme.
The first new race is at Kelso on Sunday 11 January, with all the horses that start in one of the ten qualifiers eligible to enter the final at Sandown in January 2016.
Each of the 10 qualifying races will have a minimum total prize fund of £30,000 with the final offering £100,000 in prize money.
The series is part-funded by the Additional Voluntary Contribution (AVC) Fund, which consisted of a £4.5m contribution from bookmakers William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred to make more competitive racing.
“The creation of the Veterans’ Chase Series has two objectives,” said Ruth Quinn, BHA director of racing. “One is to provide a boost to Sunday racing by creating a valuable, quality centrepiece race on Sundays. The second is to provide more opportunities for these quality horses to run.”
Richard Wayman, chief executive of the Racehorse Owners Association, added: “This is a really worthwhile initiative and with decent prize-money on offer including a £100,000 final, the series is certain to prove very popular with the owners of older chasers.
“Many of these grand old campaigners aren’t quite up to competing at the highest level and also struggle in handicaps against less exposed types, which is why these veteran events have been so well received in recent years.”
The races are open to any horses 10-years-old or over and rated 0-150. They will be run over distances ranging from 2m7ft to 3m 2ft. The final is an open handicap run over 3m.