Amendments to handicap race conditions to allow greater flexibility for placing horses

10 Nov 2016 Grassroots Racing/Fixtures

  • Horses rated 1lb or 2lbs higher than allocated ratings bands may be entered into handicaps on flat and jumps as of December 12, at Class 3 and below
  • Horses entered in such a manner will be the first to be eliminated and will carry 1lb or 2lb above maximum weight
  • Amendment designed to increase flexibility for trainers placing horses and was one of the recommendations from the BHA’s jump racing review

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced a change to entry criteria for handicap races which now enables horses rated 1lb or 2lbs higher than the allocated ratings band to be entered into the majority of handicaps at Class 3 and below.

The change has been implemented as a result of a recommendation from the BHA’s jump racing review, but will be applied to handicaps on both flat and jumps. The jump review included extensive consultation and representation from across the racing industry and the change will provide increased flexibility for trainers by allowing horses who would have previously been prevented from running in handicap races – despite being only marginally outside of the handicap range – to take part.

Horses who are entered in such a manner will be the first to be eliminated from oversubscribed races, with those 1lb above the rating range being favoured over those who are 2lbs above. Horses declared from above the range will carry 1lb or 2lbs above the maximum weight, as opposed to ‘shifting’ the weight range down to accommodate those horses.

The changes will be applied to the vast majority of handicap races at Class 3 and below, with a small number of exceptions, such as consolation races, Class 3 open novices’ handicap chases, flat amateur riders’ races and any historical significant races with special race conditions such as the Carlisle Bell.

The change will be implemented from races staged on 12 December 2016.

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer for the BHA, said:

“This is an important change to handicap race conditions as it will help those horses who can be more difficult to place because they are rated just above the commonly used rating bands. As well as providing those horses with additional opportunities, a further benefit is that races that have not filled can be boosted by the inclusion of slightly higher rated runners, which will support field sizes and make for more competitive racing.”

Seamus Mullins, NTF President, said:

“This initiative will give trainers more flexibility to place horses which fall just above a particular ratings band while not prejudicing horses at the lower end of the handicap from running. We are thankful to the BHA for this change as it will give trainers more flexibility when placing their horses.”

Dale Gibson, PJA Executive Director, said:

“The PJA strongly supports this initiative as it will give connections an additional opportunity to run when other options may be thin on the ground. Any proposal that allows more horses to get onto the racecourse without impacting on the quality of the programme is most welcome and must be applauded.”

Notes to editors:

1. The jump racing review can be found here:

2. The specific recommendation from the jump racing review is as follows: