Race planning forum will enhance communication with the BHA

From Wednesday 1st May a new race planning forum was launched within the Racing Admin site and without need for any additional login.

The aim of this forum is to improve two-way communication between trainers and the Racing Department.  A standing topic in the forum will be dedicated to requests for races but the forum has been specifically designed to allow both parties to add, and comment on, topics of any type.  The forum will be visible to all licensed trainers, members of the BHA Racing Department and the NTF and is intended to provide greater visibility and improved discussion on issues including the fixture list, the race programme and race times.

You’ll find a link to the Race Planning Forum on your Fixtures & Races menu. On opening the forum you will see active topics for discussion and polls, which you can filter by topic area or search for a keyword. Posts will be listed in date order with pinned posts and polls at the top.

More details about using the forum are being sent to trainers by the BHA Racing Department in an email this week.

Transparent entries and declarations jumping trial

At its April meeting, the industry’s Racing Group discussed possible updates to the system of transparent entries and declarations following the trial over the winter on the AWT.

As a result of feedback from the NTF Flat Committee, the next Racing Admin update will see the inclusion of official ratings and ballot marks on declaration screens. The BHA will also look into adding weights at the declarations stage. Navigation will be improved so trainers can see this information through the My Entries section, and not just the specific tracking pages.

There has been feedback from some trainers about the 9.30am deadline (after which entries cannot be removed) making it harder to gauge whether a race will divide. The background to this is that trainers would often declare more than one runner at an early stage to signal intentions to run both if there was a division. The second horse could then be taken out if a division looked less likely approaching 10am. The Racing Group felt the deadline should remain to avoid the risk of gaming the system. We will continue to gather trainer opinions on this through the summer.

Trial during Summer Jumping period

Given the success of the trial on the Flat, the Racing Group agreed to begin a trial of transparent entries and declarations for summer jumping from 1st June to 31st August.

New procedures confirmed for weights rises in races with reserves

28/03/2019 @ 15:45:00

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today confirmed changes to the procedure for races which have reserves in relation to post-declaration weights rises.

If the top weight is a non-runner after declaration but prior to the reserve deadline of 1pm the day before the race, weights will not rise if all runners are already in the weights, taking account of any penalties horses might have incurred for winning but not including riders’ allowances.

If any of the declarations are outside the weights, then the weights will rise in the usual manner as they do currently, and revised declarations of riders will be accepted up until 1.30pm on the day before the race. This will come into force for the 2019 Randox Health Grand National and all subsequent races which have reserves.

Clarification has also been provided as to how reserves will be presented in the racecard/data feeds should they get a run in the 2019 Grand National.

Reserves will take the number of the horse they are replacing but appear at the bottom of the racecard list to maintain weight order. As an example, if a horse numbered 14 comes out, the reserve will have R14 next to its name but will appear at the end/bottom of the list of runners.

Age-related handicapping – BHA Notice

As recommended by the Handicapping Review published in October 2018, a new age-based penalty structure will come into force for the 2019 Flat turf season. The first races with this structure will be published in the Racing Calendar on Thursday 28 February.

The 2018 handicapping review initially recommended that a system of giving penalties for handicap winners on a discretionary basis should be introduced to ensure that neither horses carrying penalties nor their opponents were disadvantaged in the short term.

However following consideration of the practical implications of such an approach as well as feedback from stakeholders, it was decided that a more nuanced penalty structure for winners based on age should be employed instead.

As such, penalties for handicap winners aged two and three will be 6 lb, those aged four to six will be 5 lb and those aged seven above will be 4lb. This approach was developed following detailed data analysis including the average ratings rise of horses winning handicaps and was approved by the industry’s Racing Group.

This structure will apply to Flat handicap races from the start of the Flat turf season in 2019. More information on the handicapping review can be found here.

Declarations process for Thursday 14 Feb & important info re overnight/early racecourse arrivals

Please see the BHA notices below in relation to:

– The declarations process for fixtures on Thursday 14 February.

– Requirements in relation to horses requiring overnight racecourse stabling, or which will arrive at the racecourse more than 4 hours prior to the first race. These requirements will apply to fixtures on Thursday 14 February and will continue until further notice.


Declarations for  races scheduled for Thursday 14 February should be made by 10am on Wednesday 13 February. Please be aware that we are following the same process and timetable as was used on Tuesday 12 February, so therefore we will retain the adaptations made in relation to  declarations for Thursday:

  • The trial of transparent declarations in place for Flat races will be suspended for Thursday’s fixture but the number of declarations in each race can still be viewed on NRAS.
  • No races to be staged on Thursday 14 February will be re-offered.
  • List of provisional declarations will not be posted and the official release of declarations for Thursday’s racing is expected to be at 1.30pm.
  • Jockey bookings for Thursday will be accepted until 2.15pm on Wednesday 14 February

Once we have been able to complete the analysis and processing of test samples we will return to normal racing administration activity.


Trainers declaring horses for any races on Thursday 14 February and for all races after that date and until further notice, should be advised of the following requirements for “overnighters” (horses arriving at the racecourse on the day(s) prior to raceday and which require overnight racecourse stabling accommodation), or any horses arriving more than 4 hours prior to the FIRST race.

In line with the new equine influenza requirements, we need to check the vaccination status of all horses before they can be unloaded. For overnighters and early arrivals, the process is slightly different. If you have a horse going to the racecourse overnight or arriving more than 4 hours before the first race, you must first email a copy of the following documents to: overnighters@britishhorseracing.com

The trainer of, or Responsible Person for, overnighters and early arrivals must submit this documentation prior to arrival. It needs to be checked in advance, as horses cannot be unloaded or permitted entry to the stables until this process has been completed.

Racing to resume on Wednesday 13 February

11/02/2019 @ 23:15:00

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) tonight announced a risk-managed return to racing will take place from Wednesday this week.

After consultation with its veterinary committee, and based on the latest tests conducted by the Animal Health Trust, the BHA’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Brant Dunshea, tonight confirmed that racing could resume, but only with strict biosecurity controls in place.

This decision to return racing in a controlled, risk-managed manner was unanimously supported by the industry veterinary committee.

Brant Dunshea said:

“Our approach since hearing about the first positive results last Wednesday has been based on accumulating as much information as we could as quickly as possible so we could properly understand the risks of this virulent strain of flu spreading to more horses. That would be harmful to them and damaging to any trainers’ yards that became infected.

“It has also been our intention to ensure that we avoid an issue that could result in a long-term disruption to racing with the risk of many of our major events being unduly impacted.

“After analysis of thousands of samples, and no further positive tests on Monday, we still only have two confirmed sites of infection. We have put robust containment measures in place around both.

“From the testing and analysis conducted the disease appears to be contained at present. The BHA veterinary committee believe that the swift controls on movement that were put in place have clearly helped to restrict the spread of this virus.

“There have been significant logistical issues associated with testing and processing so many tests in such a short space of time. Fortunately, owing to the tireless efforts of the Animal Health Trust, trainers and their local vets, and BHA staff, the vast majority of yards which had been placed on hold will be in a position to resume racing.

“Clearly, there is some risk associated with returning to racing. This risk has been assessed and, based on the evidence – and ensuring biosecurity measures are in place – the level of risk is viewed as acceptable.”

As such the BHA has confirmed that two scheduled Jump fixtures will go ahead at Musselburgh and Plumpton on Wednesday 13 February, alongside the All Weather fixtures at Southwell and Kempton.

Return to racing

As part of the controlled return, the BHA has developed a risk framework which allows us to categorise individual trainers by the level of risk they have been exposed to. The ability of runners to return to racing from those yards will depend on the risk categories the yards are placed in.

We are finalising overnight which category individual trainers will currently be placed in. The BHA will contact trainers tomorrow morning to inform them of their category and eligibility to run.


Trainers who hold entries for Wednesday are advised to declare at 10am on Tuesday. Confirmed declarations will not be issued to the media, betting organisations and data customers until 1:30pm. In this period the BHA will review all declarations to ensure none have been declared which do not meet the risk criteria.

Please note declarations for Thursday’s Flat All Weather meetings will now be at the 24 hour stage.

Biosecurity measures

In addition to the risk factors outlined above, and as an interim measure, the BHA has ordered that no entries or declarations will be accepted from horses that have not been vaccinated [for equine influenza] in the previous six months. Trainers are advised to check current vaccination records before declaring tomorrow morning. In addition, all trainers will be required to provide a health declaration upon arrival at a racecourse.

The BHA’s Director of Equine Health and Welfare, David Sykes said:

“The BHA and the veterinary committee agree that, on balance, the level of risk is acceptable for a return to racing.

“We have developed a risk model, which the veterinary committee support, in order to assist the return to racing.

“We will observe closely those horses who are taken to the racecourse and will intervene as a precaution to prevent a horse running or accessing a racecourse if we believe it might put other horses at risk of infection.

“The veterinary committee are of the view that an unprecedented amount of this disease has been identified in Europe. This is not a typical endemic period and it was essential that precautions be taken to protect the horse population.”

Rescheduling of races

In preparation for a return to Racing the BHA’s Racing department has identified a number of key Jump races which should be rescheduled. The identified races are based on their place in the Pattern and races which provided essential opportunities.

The following races have been rescheduled:
Races rescheduled
Full race conditions will be circulated tomorrow and a further review will take place of any gaps that have been caused at all levels of the race programme with a view to adding in additional race or fixtures as required.

A similar exercise will also commence for Flat races in the coming days.

About the Veterinary Committee       

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA)’s Veterinary Committee advises on all veterinary matters affecting racing and the health and welfare of racehorses. It contains representatives of the BHA, Association of Racecourse Veterinary Surgeons (ARVS), British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), National Trainers Federation (NTF), Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), Animal Health Trust (AHT), Thoroughbred Breeders Association (TBA), Racecourse Association (RCA) and Independent expertise.

BHA update regarding equine influenza case

10/02/2019 @16:35:00

Testing at licensed yards across the country is ongoing, with a view to quickly assessing and containing the potential spread of the highly contagious equine influenza virus which is affecting vaccinated horses.

The BHA is continuing to build a picture of the potential spread of the disease by testing as many horses as possible from potentially exposed yards. The data collected will help to build an evidence base which will allow a decision to be made on Monday as to whether racing can return on Wednesday 13 February.

Surveillance update

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has now received several thousands of samples and is working through the process of testing those samples. The latest update that has been provided to the BHA confirms that no further positive cases have been identified from the testing carried out yesterday. Owing to the volume of testing being carried out the AHT have not been able to provide a precise figure as to the number of tests carried out, but they are of the view that the numbers processed will be roughly equivalent to the 720 which were processed the previous day.

Amongst the samples that have been tested are those of the remaining 27 horses from the yard of Rebecca Menzies. All horses in this yard have now tested negative, though the yard will remain under close surveillance and further testing will be carried out.

Analysis remains ongoing with more swabs being returned all the time, and yesterday 5,000 extra swabs were distributed to trainers to assist with the logistical challenges of testing this many horses.

The AHT have also publicly confirmed that a non-thoroughbred, unvaccinated horse has sadly had to be humanely euthanized after having contracted the virus. This shows the threat posed by the disease in unvaccinated horses and the importance of biosecurity procedures and movement restrictions to contain the possible spread of the disease.

Equine influenza should not be confused with or compared to the common ‘bug’ that might impact some yards from time to time. It is the most potentially damaging of the respiratory viruses that occur in UK equines, and it can be particularly serious for younger horses, which is of particular concern with the breeding season about to start. Trainers are required under the rules to notify the BHA should a case of equine influenza be identified or suspected in their yard.

Return to racing

A pragmatic and evidence-led approach is being adopted in order to enable the BHA to make decisions on Monday as to whether racing can return on Wednesday 13 February. A prioritisation plan for testing is being adopted, which is based on the proximity of horses to a positive test, or to a yard returning a positive test. Swabs will continue to be collected and tested from other horses, but some are being fast tracked. Separately, a specific plan is being formed as to what the clearance process will be for individual yards to return to racing.

This process will remain ongoing through today and tomorrow with a view to sufficient evidence being gathered to make a decision on Monday evening as to whether racing can return on Wednesday. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding that as much evidence as possible must be gathered prior to making a decision as to when racing can safely return.

Should racing be given the go ahead to return on Wednesday then declarations for all races would take place on Tuesday.

David Sykes, Director of Equine Health and Welfare for the BHA, said:

“The data is encouraging and provides a further indication that the precautionary safety measures have helped to contain the spread of disease. However, the picture is still developing and it remains the case that we will make an evidence-based decision about the situation on Monday.

“It remains paramount that, for the sake of our horse population, we do not take any unnecessary risks. This is not a common cold, it is a highly contagious and potentially serious disease.

“The prioritisation exercise with regards to testing will help deliver a detailed picture of the spread of infection. Targeted testing, alongside the wide survey of data we have already gathered, will help provide a clear picture as to the scale of the spread of the disease. Any decision will include guidance and input from veterinary experts, including the industry’s veterinary committee.

“We are also working through the process that will be followed in order to give specific yards the all clear to resume racing. This will balance the clear need for yards to resume business as soon as possible with ensuring that we do not put horses at the risk of unnecessary harm. We are liaising with the NTF and trainers on this process.”

Testing costs

As confirmed last night, the BHA and Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) have agreed to pay a contribution to owners or trainers for the costs incurred where the BHA has required samples to be taken, including the cost of the swabs and the veterinary fees involved. We are working on the exact details with the NTF and HBLB and will confirm the reimbursement policy and process as soon as possible, but it will be based on a fixed fee per horse sampled.

The BHA is extremely grateful to HBLB for their important support and contribution.