Remember 48-hour declarations at The Festival

Don’t forget that 48-hour declarations apply to all races at this years’ Cheltenham Festival. This was announced by the BHA in September 2017 to provide earlier clarity with regards to running plans for racing fans, bettors, the media and bookmakers and enhance their ability to focus on the race and its participants when promoting the event.

Full information about declarations and reserves can be viewed in this week’s Racing Calendar or on the Racing Admin Site.

For further information please contact the BHA Racing Department on 0207 152 0050 or via .

Horses running in Hunter Chases for a Permit Trainer

We have asked the BHA for further clarification about the restrictions on horses switching between runs in normal handicap chases and Hunter Chases. This is because the rule refers only to runs for a licensed trainer.

The BHA has confirmed that if a horse has run in a Hunter Chase after 1st January 2018 for a permit trainer, then the horse is restricted to Hunter Chases for the remainder of the season.  It cannot run in a handicap if moved to a licensed trainer because the restriction stays with the horse. We have asked the BHA to revise the wording of the rule.

Northern Lights Series nearing its conclusion

The Northern Lights Series was launched earlier this year to provide a further incentive to own and train jump horses in the north, and stimulate investment into the grassroots of the sport in this region.

A series of 75 qualifiers are taking place which will culminate in five £25,000 finals, which will be class 2 handicaps, at Carlisle on 3 December.

The series are not confined exclusively to horses trained in the North and to qualify horses must have started in at least two series qualifiers and been placed in the first eight on at least one occasion. This qualification is specific to each individual series and cannot be mixed and matched across two different series. The dates, locations and ratings bands of remaining series qualifiers and locations can be seen below:

There remain significant, valuable and winnable opportunities for horses partly qualified for the finals so the BHA is communicating with trainers and owners via text and e-mail to ensure they are aware of the series, which only has a few qualifiers left. Trainers or owners wishing to see if their horse is fully or partially qualified can do so via the BHA notices section on the Racing Admin site:

Lowering of the weights in jump handicaps

As part of the discussion on including horses rated +1lb or +2lb above the top of the rating band in jump handicaps, the BHA Racing Group has considered the Rule governing the raising and lowering of weights in Jump handicaps. It has now been agreed to mirror the way in which the rule operates on the Flat with regard to the lowering of weights when all declared runners are above 9st 2lb.

This has been operating successfully on the Flat for some years now and was introduced principally to remove the incidents of horses carrying unnecessarily high weights in races where all declared runners are above an agreed weight.

Rule (F)45.5 is being changed to bring those same benefits to Jump racing. After consulting the NTF, the BHA has agreed that where all declared runners are above 11st, the weights should be lowered to 11st accordingly.

Novice chase recommendations welcomed

Four current or recent members of the NTF’s National Hunt Committee were part of a working group that has made recommendations announced today on the Novice Chase system.

A detailed data analysis was carried out, supported by a questionnaire for Jump trainers and the exploration of a variety of proposals. Thanks to all trainers who responded to the questions. It is essential for the future health of the sport that the race programme provides incentives for trainers and owners to send horses of all abilities Chasing.

The recommendations, which were approved by the sport’s cross-industry Racing Group and the BHA Board and will be implemented from 1 October 2017, are as follows:

  • No handicap rating increase in weight-for-age Novices’ Chases of Class 2 and below other than for the winner. This will only apply to horses that have already run four times over obstacles (either hurdles or fences.)

    The working party felt that perception can be as important as reality and to encourage more horses to run in weight-for-age Novices’ Chases, trainers’ preconceptions of the handicappers’ reaction needs to be addressed. This has been shown to be effective in flat conditions races.

  • An increase in the number of weight-for-age Novices’ Chases, to be balanced by a decrease in number of Novices’ handicap Chases. A maximum increase of 25% on the current programme of 200 weight-for-age Chases was proposed
  • Programming of six ‘confined’ races during the autumn for horses which have not won more than one race over hurdles. This proposal is aimed at providing a pathway for the later-maturing type destined for Chasing.

Analysis of the horse population revealed a pool of 948 horses went chasing who       would have fulfilled these criteria in 2016/17

  • Rating band for the Listed Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival to be increased to 0-145 (from 0-140).

    This race has become a key seasonal target for many Novice Chasers, resulting in the cut off for elimination this year being 137. Increasing the banding to 0-145 was considered a more sensible cut off for the handicap and key to the success of the new system, with horses rated 146 and above capable of holding their own in Graded company.

  • Valuable Novices’ Handicap Chase Series Final to be programmed in the spring. Racecourses to be given the opportunity to apply to stage the £100,000 Final, which will be supported by the BHA Development Fund. Horses must run in at least two weight-for-age Novices’ or Beginners’ Chase during the season in order to enter the Final.

Trainers involved directly on the working group were Nick Alexander, Philip Hobbs, Emma Lavelle and Dan Skelton.

Payment for non-training services (Bookmakers) – Cheltenham Previews

In the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival a number of previews will be held to discuss and analyse the week’s racing. The BHA would like to remind Trbrandandlogotypealternative_rgbainers that where a bookmaker sponsors the event and offer any remuneration and/or benefits to the Trainer this may constitute a commercial arrangement with a Betting Organisation under the Rules of Racing. In such instances, the Trainer must notify the BHA of this arrangement by completing the online form found at the following link:

 If any Trainer has any queries regarding this requirement or wishes to discuss the acceptability of such an arrangement please do not hesitate to contact the BHA ( or 020 7152 0167) for further information.

Northern Lights series supports northern jumping

The BHA’s announcement this week of the five “Northern Lights” jump series is evidence of the work of the Northern Task Force, which was set up from the Jump Racing Review to spearhead initiatives to revive jump racing in the north by stimulating investment into the grass roots of the sport. Tom Tate and Nick Alexander, the NTF’s leaders for the Northern Region and Scotland, are members.

Richard Wayman, BHA Chief Operating Officer came to the NTF’s Scotland and the Borders regional meeting at Kelso in September to report on the Northern Task Force work and give advanced notice of the Northern Lights series.

75 qualifying races will be held at 14 jump racecourses north of, and including, Doncaster racecourse, from January through to November 2017. They will be primarily made up of Class 4 handicaps with the exception of a mares’ series, which will also feature some Class 5 handicaps.

The five series will culminate in a valuable finals day which will be held at Jockey Club Racecourses’ Carlisle racecourse on 3 December 2017. The five finals races will be Class 2 handicaps and will each be worth £25,000. A quality day of racing with total prize money of over £150,000 will be completed by the Listed Houghton Mares Chase on the same card.