BHA announces further changes to 3yo flat novice conditions

Responding to feedback from trainers and analysis of five months’ of race data, the BHA has announced more changes to the 3 year old flat novice race conditions. These will take effect for races staged from Monday 9th July.

  • The definition of a “novice” is modified such that horses that have run three times and have won a race would be ineligible for three-year-old and three-year-old and upwards novice races. This means that the only winners that can run in novice races will be horses that had one or two previous runs.
  • There is a small increase in the number of maiden races restricted to unraced and once-raced horses, particularly in the first three months of the turf season. This proposed change will see the balance in novice and maiden races move to c.75% novice: 25% maiden.
  • Penalties carried by winners of Class 4 and 5 Open Novice and Class 4 Novice Auction races to be increased

The BHA says that comparing 3yo and 3yo+ novice/maiden races with the equivalent races staged in 2017, average field sizes have increased and their competitiveness, measured by the average starting price of the favourite, is almost unchanged. The main purpose of the latest changes, however, is to address concerns that the participation of a highly rated, more experienced horse looking for a soft option is making some novice races uncompetitive.

Ralph Beckett, who represents the NTF on the Racing Group said:

“These changes should address the issues that have emerged with extending the novice system from the two year old programme, where it is working well, to three year olds and older horses. We all know that in the past winning on your first or second start was often limiting to a horse’s future prospects, and this new approach is changing that.

“I know that a number of trainers have been concerned about the consequences for a horse’s handicap rating of finishing too close behind a previous winner, and it is important that we as trainers remember the BHA’s handicapping policy is to focus on what a horse has beaten, rather than what has beaten it.”

Changes to penalty structure

 Race  Current penalty structure  Proposed changes to penalty structure
Class 3 Open Novice A winner 6lb
Of 2 races 10lb
No change
Class 3 Novice Auction A winner 6lb
Of 2 races 10lb
No change
Class 4 Open Novice Winner of auction race 3lb
For each other race 6lb
Winner of auction race up from 3lb to 4lb
For each other race up from 6lb to 7lb
Class 4 Novice Auction For each race won 6lb For each race won up from 6lb to 7lb
Class 5 Open Novice Winner of auction race 4lb
For each other race 7lb
Winner of auction race up from 4lb to 5lb
For each other race, no change at 7lb
Class 5 & 6 Novice Auction For each race won 7lb No change

Data analysis covering period 1 January – 31 May

Races staged

 Year  Maiden  Novice  TOTAL
2017 343 0 343
2018 73 (22%) 266 (78%) 339

Race competitiveness

 Year Average Field Size Average SP of Favourite
2017 8.22 2.36
2018 8.64 2.29

Record of previous winners

From 1 Jan – 31 May, 353 horses carried a penalty in a novice event; 99, or 28%, of these penalty carriers won.

The profile of those 99 winners is summarised below, with those with seven or more previous runs obviously arising before the beginning of the turf season.

Previous runs Horses Winners Strike rate %
1 run 54 17 31
2 runs 138 32 23
3 runs 50 12 24
4 runs 32 14 44
5 runs 20 4 20
6 runs 23 6 26
7+ runs 36 14 29
TOTAL 353 99 28

Success rate of previous winners by penalty carried

Previous runs Horses Winners Strike rate %
3lb 6 2 33
4lb 43 14 33
6lb 47 13 28
7lb 236 63 27
More than one race 21 7 33

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