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

BHA update on the novice programme for 3year olds and older horses

From Richard Wayman, BHA Chief Operating Officer – 23rd May 2018

We are aware that a number of trainers have expressed concerns about the change made at the beginning of the year to convert the vast majority of maiden races for three-year-olds and older horses into novice races. This followed on from the same change having been successfully introduced to the two-year-old programme over the previous couple of years.

This new approach was based on feedback from connections saying that winning a race too soon in a horse’s career could be limiting to its future prospects and the main aim of the change is to provide an improved programme of races for horses that win on one of their early visits to the racecourse.

Previously three-year-olds and older horses that won on their debut or their second start had few options other than stepping straight into handicap company or, alternatively, aiming for a Listed or Pattern race. The latter often overfaced a young, inexperienced horse. As for the handicap option, the handicapper would have very limited information on which to allot a handicap rating. This could, of course, work both ways in that the horse’s rating could underestimate its ability and the horse then make a mockery of whatever handicap it turned up in; on the other hand, if the handicapper overestimated its ability, this could damage the horse’s development by over-facing them against more seasoned campaigners at a formative time in their career.

A few months into this new system, we would like to reassure trainers that we are closely monitoring these races and, working with the NTF, we’ll review the results from the first half of the year once we get to the end of June. In the meantime and for your information, the headline numbers since the beginning of the year to 14 May include:

  • The programme has included 228 novice races and 59 maiden races giving a total of 287 races. This compares with 291 maiden races during the same period in 2017.
  • The average field size in the 287 races in 2018 has been 8.36, which compares with 8.09 in the 291 races in 2017. The average starting price of the favourite is 2.27/1 this year, compared with 2.34/1 last year.
  • There have been 306 horses carrying a penalty in a novice race so far this year, of which 87 (28%) won. 38% of the novice races have been won by penalty carriers with 62% won by maidens.
  • There have been 259 individual winners of the novice and maiden races staged this year. Last year, there were 291 individual winners of the maiden races.

When we consider this, as well at looking at the data, we’ll focus on a number of specific areas:

  • Eligibility – Since the beginning of April, previous winners with more than six runs have been excluded from novice races on the basis that they are intended as developmental races for lightly raced horses rather than more experienced types that have only won once or twice. Is six runs the appropriate cut-off point for previous winners?
  • Balance of novice and maiden races – The race programme currently comprises 80% novices, 20% maidens. Is this balance right? Some trainers have said that the pace of novice races makes them a tougher place to start for inexperienced horses than maiden races. On the other hand, if there are more maiden races, this runs the risk of maidens avoiding novice races and therefore increasing the likelihood of small fields.
  • Penalty structure – Are penalties at the right level?

It is still early days and the new approach remains work-in-progress but pleased be assured we are listening to feedback from trainers. At the heart of the changes we have made is our desire to provide a programme that encourages horses to win early in their careers and also supports their future development. However, if changes are required to make the system work better, they will be made and we will be working closely with the NTF to ensure that any lessons are learnt from the first half of this year.


BRS Additional Conditional Course 25th – 29th June – last one before mid August

The British Racing School (BRS) is putting on an additional Conditional Course in the last week of June (25th – 29th June 2018).  This is a Course just for Category ‘B’ Amateurs “converting” to Conditional, and not for brand new applicants or Category ‘A’ Amateurs wanting to become Conditionals.

The Course is a last minute addition to this year’s programme and there will not be another Conditional Course until mid-August after this one. Trainers wanting to apply for Conditional Licences for any of their employees (currently hold Cat ‘B’ Amateur Permits) over the summer need to send their online applications to the BHA as soon as possible.

For further information contact Max Milward by phone  (0207 152 0145) or email

Weatherbys Call Centre emergency back-up

Following the initial announcement that, on 2nd July, important changes are being made to the operation of the Weatherbys Call Centre, the BHA has spoken to a number of trainers directly and has been keen to take feedback. As a result, an emergency back -up will be available.

As previously outlined, from the beginning of July, several functions of the Call Centre are moving entirely online and will only be available through the new Racing Admin system. Most notable of these are:

  • Making entries, confirmations and declarations
  • Scratching a horse or declaring a non-runner
  • Booking a jockey

To ensure you are supported moving online, a dedicated Help Desk, open seven days a week and contactable via 01933 440011, will be established to answer questions about using the Racing Admin system and to guide you through the processes.

In addition, based on feedback the BHA has received over the last fortnight, in the case of an absolute emergency trainers should call the new Help Desk which, at the discretion of the manager, will be able to take an entry/declaration over the phone. This emergency facility will be monitored for the first six months and, if it is being misused, its availability could be put at risk.

Alternatively if you need help making entries or delectations online, videos and guides can be found here or you can email

The BHA is committed to providing you with all the support you require in advance of these changes so please do not hesitate to get in contact.

Over 20 MOPS registered horses entered for Goffs Spring Sale

Over 20 NH Mare Owners Prize Scheme (MOPS) registered horses have been entered for the Goffs UK sales next week commencing Tuesday 22nd May. NHMOPS horses at the sale have no additional scheme registration fees to pay.

NHMOPS is a National Hunt incentive scheme to promote NH filly/mare ownership where registered horses can win up to £10,000 in bonuses per win in qualifying races.

The winning trainer receives 15% of the bonus prize, whilst their yard receives 5% for pool money. The other recipients are the owners, who collect 70%, and jockeys, who receive 10%. Terms and conditions apply. Registered horses will have a NHMOPS logo printed on their catalogue page.

For more information on the scheme’s prizes and qualifying races please click on the NHMOPS link on the TBA website homepage;

Lot numbers of registered horses by sale

Goffs UK Spring Store Sale

16, 21, 32, 34, 63, 65, 72, 107, 110, 119, 123, 158, 166, 174, 205, 226, 235, 238.

Goffs UK Spring HIT/P2P Sale
292, 344, 368.


Appearance Money Scheme (AMS) at Non Criteria Fixtures

Some trainers have been enquiring as to the below expected prize money levels at certain meetings scheduled later this month and further through Program Book 2. These meetings (listed below) are non criteria meetings which are commercially very attractive to racecourses but sit outside the optimal time of the fixture list. These non-criteria meetings do not receive central funding including AMS money. Most courses running these fixtures have upgraded their own executive contribution to make up some of the shortfall in prize money but others have chosen not to. Please be aware of this when making plans for your horses throughout the summer and beyond.

The upcoming non-criteria fixtures are:

Stratford on Avon 20/05/2018

Fontwell Park     27/05/2018

Hexham               24/06/2018

NTF response to the publication of policies that will shape 2019 fixture list

The NTF has been a leading advocate of changes in the fixture list to support the workforce. We therefore welcome the efforts of the fixture group to take account of staffing issues.

While the planned November break is a mixed blessing because the transfer of fixtures out of that week will lead to congestion in the weeks either side, the guarantee of earlier finishes from September to April is a real benefit to stable staff. It is therefore more than disappointing that this positive move has been diluted by the addition of 15 twilight fixtures immediately after the summer fixture peak. The NTF appreciates that fixture moves elsewhere will lead to a net overall increase of 5 or 6 fixtures and the BHA has produced statistics to show there is a demand for racing opportunities at this time. Also, we know trainers look to run horses on the flat before the important Horses in Training sales. Even so, the additional fixtures take the gloss off the good intentions expressed at the start of the process and may undermine efforts to stabilise field sizes.