New detection times from 1st June

The BHA has informed trainers by email of some new Detection Times for misoprostol and xylazine, and an updated Detection Time for dantrolene. These Detection Times will be effective from 1st June 2019.

The BHA Published Detection Times have been updated to reflect this change, and can be viewed here. Although the BHA informs the British Equine Veterinary Association of all these changes, it is worth checking your vet is aware.

Neither Dantrolene nor Misoprostol are licensed for use in horses in the UK but they may be prescribed for use in horses by a veterinary surgeon under the Veterinary Medicine Directorate’s Cascade legislation.

Restriction on horses returning to the flat after NH Flat race

As part of the 2017 BHA Jump Racing Review, the Group considered a proposal to ensure that horses running in National Hunt Flat races (NHF’s) are those genuinely intended for a career over Jumps, not merely horses from Flat yards having a perceived easy introduction in an NHF race. It is not uncommon for such horses to have a run in an NHF prior to then running on the Flat in a Novice or Maiden race, as an “unraced” horse under that code.

Over the years, NHF’s have increased in popularity and at some venues at particular times of the year, it is not uncommon to see up to half of the field made up of Flat bred horses from Flat yards.

In November 2017 the Racing Group approved in principle a Rule to prevent NHF runners from running on the Flat within an ascertained time frame. It has since been decided that a period of 9 months would be a sensible time frame and the new rule has been approved ready for the 2019/2020 jump season.

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.

Rules of Racing rewritten to be more user friendly

In a project worked on in close consultation with stakeholder bodies and with independent legal expertise, the Rules of Racing have been re-written so that they are easier to understand and easier to access for participants and wider public.

The new Rule book will come into force on 1 September and will be available to view from early July. Throughout the project the aim was not to change the meaning of the Rules but to express them in plain language and restructure them so they were easier to navigate and search.

They will be available to view via the new Rules website from early July to ensure users are familiar with the site and new format. The BHA will hold workshops to assist participants to become used to the new Rules and how to access them through the website and associated digital applications.

The BHA is also in the process of creating a cross-industry working group in the lead up to 1st September to take initial feedback from users and ensure the Rules site is as fully optimised ahead of the Rules coming into force.

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.

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.

New SNELL skull cap standard

SNELL have developed a new skull cap standard – E2016 – which the BHA intends to add to the list of skull cap standards permitted in the rules.

Manufacture of the E2001 standard ceased in 2018 and this standard will remain on the permitted list for the time being while stocks are held in shops. Because the maximum lifetime of a skull cap is four to five years, the BHA envisages 2023/24 as a probable date to withdraw the E2001 standard from the rules.

If a hat with an E2001 label also has PAS 011 or the other current standard, it will remain acceptable even when SNELL E2001 has gone.