Shake-up for jump racing

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  • Jump Racing Review Recommendations
    The British Horseracing Board (BHB) last week approved a blueprint for the future of jump racing.

    Key recommendations for the restructuring of British jump racing contained in a review conducted by an industry-wide working party include:

    • The division of the year-round Jump racing programme into distinct Winter and Summer seasons
    • Greater promotion of Jump racing to raise its profile throughout the year
    • Initiatives to see horses race more often
    • The introduction of schooling trials for inexperienced horses

    An implementation group of interested parties, chaired by BHB director Nigel Clark, is to be set up by the BHB board.

    “The Board is absolutely committed to National Hunt racing,” explained BHB chief executive Greg Nichols. “The forward-looking Jump Racing Review will add to the excellent work that the sport is currently carrying out.

    “Now that BHB has given its approval to the recommendations, we will look to announce more details once further work has been carried out, overseen by Nigel Clark’s small group,” he added.

    Weight allowance to encourage mares and fillies
    As part of the BHB’s strategic aim for more fillies and mares to go jumping, and to encourage more fillies to remain in training, the fillies’ and mares’ allowances will be increased to 7lb from 1 September.

    BHB communications manager Alan Delmonte explains: “The statistics show that mares win fewer races than could be expected given their representation, and it is logical to extend the increased allowance to beyond Pattern races.”

    The median rating of mares is 10lb lower than their male counterparts, and the change in weight allowance is intended to redress this imbalance to some extent.

    “We have already seen some significant progress,” says Alan Delmonte. “The number of individual runs by fillies and mares in National Hunt races virtually doubled in the last two years. There were 186 performances in 2001/02, 294 in 2002/03 and 359 last season.”

    Changes to 2005 racing fixtures

    The BHB’s Fixture List for 2005 is comparable to this year’s list, which had undergone major structural changes. There is, however, a small increase in the total number of programmed fixtures in order to build on the racegoer and punter friendly improvements made for 2004. The eight additional fixtures are regional racing fixtures.

    National Hunt meetings represent 40% of the fixtures, well above the minimum considered in the National Hunt Review of 1998 as a lowest number required to sustain and encourage jump racing.

    The list makes allowance for the potential need to reschedule fixtures in the event of a large number of abandonments. To this end, several Sundays have been left free, or with reduced fixtures.

    Several of the early autumn fixtures in September and October have been relocated to reflect the demands of the Jump and Flat horse population at that time of year. BHB racing director Ruth Quinn says: “The 2005 Fixture List seeks to make best use of racing’s greatest asset, our horse population, while balancing the needs of customers and the industry.

    “It is largely a consolidation of the 2004 Fixture List, which is bringing in significantly more income to racing through a more efficient siting of fixtures and by providing extra racing and betting opportunities.”

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