The British Horseracing Authority has given a boost to the Jump mares’ population via an increased programme of races for mares during the season ahead and the announcement of six new Listed Novices’ Hurdle races.
The new black-type novices’ events will run from December until February and complement the existing Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Listed Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Race, added to Cheltenham’s April meeting, during 2012. One of the new events will be co-funded and sponsored by the TBA and the remaining five will be co-funded by the Levy Board through the Quality Support Fund.
The original mares’ black-type project was undertaken in 2007, which led to the introduction of three new mares’ Listed events and three new mares’ Grade 2 events, not restricted to novices, for the 2007/2008 season. All are still currently part of the programme at their original venues: Wetherby (Listed, Oct), Kempton (Listed, Nov), Sandown (Listed, Jan), Ascot (Grade 2, Jan), Doncaster (Grade 2, Jan) and Cheltenham (Grade 2, Mar).
Additional mares’ opportunities, for mares below black-type level, have been added to the programme, taking the total number of races during the October to December period from 67 to 84, an increase of 25%. With an already healthy spread of mares’ novices’ and maiden hurdles, attentions have focussed on handicap hurdles, although some additional mares’ bumpers and chases have also been added. A similar increase is planned for the remainder of the season.
Stuart Middleton, Manager of the BHA Racing Department, said:
“With the continued downturn in the economic climate placing ever more pressures on the breeding industry and the horse population continuing to decline, breeders are concerned more than ever over the lack of a commercial market for filly foals. A falling mares’ population could have a significant impact on the breeding industry further down the line and for that reason it is important that we provide any support that we can through initiatives which can be introduced from a race planning perspective.
“It is hoped that these new races will help incentivise owners and trainers to purchase mares and encourage breeders to try to test their well-bred mares before breeding from them. There is also the added bonus for Racing of tapping into a largely unraced section of the horse population and the advantage of seeing such mares proving their ability on the track with a view to establishing their likely breeding value later down the line.
Robert Waley-Cohen, Chairman of the TBA’s National Hunt Committee, said:
“It is important for the whole industry that mares are proven on the racecourse before breeding from them so it is a great step forward to have these new opportunities. I particularly welcome the 6 new Listed novice hurdles as until the TBA sponsored one in April there were none for fillies only. Having these races will boost the value of fillies and give them greater opportunities to earn black type.
Alan Delmonte, Levy Board Operations Director said:
“These races have the benefit of providing important opportunities for high quality horses, and fit within the objectives of the Quality Support Fund. We are also pleased to be able to contribute further significant sums for Jumping.”