The British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) Jump Pattern Committee has today announced a number of changes to British Jump Pattern and Listed races for the 2018/19 season.
The majority of the changes relate to the ongoing project to develop the mares’ Black Type programme, which aims to encourage a greater number of quality mares to be put into training and for them to be campaigned more ambitiously and for longer over jumps.
Two new contests have been added to the programme to take place over the second half of the season, at Doncaster and Exeter, with an upgrade to an existing contest at Cheltenham in April. Changes have also made to two existing mares’ contests at Newbury and Leicester. In addition, changes have been made to the conditions of Wincanton’s Elite Hurdle, which will be run as a weight-for-age race from 2018.
In a related move, the three longstanding EBF/TBA Mares’ Series’ Finals have reverted to requiring horses to run in a qualifier in order to be eligible to run in the relevant series’ final.
Details of the new or upgraded contests for fillies and mares are as follows:
|Racecourse and date||Race||Distance||Age|
|Doncaster, 25 January 2019||The Doncaster Racecourse Fillies' Juvenile Hurdle Race (Listed)||2m ½f||4yo|
|Exeter, 10 February 2019||The Exeter Racecourse Mares' Steeple Chase (Listed)||3m||5yo+|
|Cheltenham, 18 April 2019||The Arkells Brewery Fillies' Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3)||2m ½f||4yo|
Ruth Quinn, Director of International Racing and Racing Development at the BHA, said:
“The upgrades and changes announced today for the 2018/19 season show ongoing progress in the work to develop the population of jumping mares. This remains a long-term BHA project, with the aim being to deliver graduated growth in the programme in order to provide sufficient incentive to enact behavioural change in breeders, buyers and owners, such that more mares are given the chance to develop to the best of their ability on the racecourse, before then perhaps becoming broodmares.
“The objective will not be delivered overnight and tangible success may not become apparent for several years, but there continue to be positive signs in terms of the overall quality of the mares in training, and around activity at the sales and the prices that mares are now fetching.”
Trainer Dan Skelton said:
“The juvenile fillies handicap hurdle at Cheltenham which we won with Stylish Dancer earlier in the year has the potential to become a really competitive contest.
“Giving the race Black Type status is definitely a step in the right direction and it gives the best horses in their age group a chance to compete for it, which is exactly as it should be.”
Roderick Duncan, Clerk of the Course at Doncaster Racecourse said:
“We are very happy to have worked with BHA to introduce this race and further support the Jump programme for Fillies and Mares and more generally at Doncaster.”
Acknowledging that the annual population of juvenile fillies in training in recent years would not have been sufficient to sustain its own Black Type programme, the Jump Pattern Committee has taken the longer-term view that, without these new opportunities, there is not the incentive for connections to attempt to source young, high-quality fillies in sufficient numbers.
It is therefore hoped that these new races will complement the existing Listed Juvenile Fillies’ race at Aintree in December and act as a catalyst for growth of the horse population in this area. If at the end of three years the initiative is not showing any sign of delivering a positive impact, the Committee may revisit the Black Type status of these races.
|Racecourse and date||Race||Distance||Age||Change|
|Wincanton, 10 November 2018||The Unibet Elite Hurdle Race (Grade 2)||2m ½f||4yo+||Changed from a limited handicap to weight-for-age conditions race|
|Newbury, 19 December 2018||The TBA Mares' Steeple Chase (Listed)||2m 7½f||4yo+||No longer restricted to novices|
|Leicester, 10 January 2019||The Charnwood Forest Mares' Steeple Chase (Listed||2m||5yo+||Distance changed from 2m 6½f to 2m and moved two weeks earlier|
|Huntingdon, 25 January 2019||The Lady Protectress Mare’s Steeple Chase (Listed)||2m 4f||5yo+||Moved from late February to late January|
|Sandown, 9 March 2019||The EBF/TBA Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race Series Final (Listed)||2m||4-6yo||Mares which have been placed in the first six in a Qualifier will be eligible to enter the Final|
|Newbury, 23 March 2019||The EBF/TBA Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle Race Series Final (Grade 2)||2m 4½f||4yo+||Mares which have been placed in the first six in a Qualifier will be eligible to enter the Final|
|Cheltenham, 18 April 2019||The EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Steeple Chase Series Final (Listed)||2m 5f||5yo+||Mares which have been placed in the first eight in a Qualifier will be eligible to enter the Final|