BHA regulatory update

26 Mar 2020 BHA Features Integrity

The BHA continues to prioritise working with the industry’s COVID-19 Steering Group and organisations across the racing industry to address the challenges facing British racing in the light of the coronavirus and the suspension of racing.

The sport’s overarching operational plan will be published early next week. In the meantime, a number of regulatory and operational matters also require immediate attention. A summary of these issues can be found below.

Apprentice agreements

Owing to continued uncertainty caused by COVID-19, we have made the decision to temporarily delay the implementation of any changes to the Apprentice and Conditional jockey training agreements. The amendments, which were due to come into force on 28th March, include changes to the way income and expenses are to be split between apprentice/conditional jockeys and their trainers.

While we do not have a firm date for when the changes will now be introduced, all required development has been completed and we will be able to provide a full update as to when they will take affect when racing resumes.

Whip consultation

In light of the current situation, a request to the the Horse Welfare Board was made by the BHA to temporarily postpone the whip consultation recommended in the HWB’s recent strategy. This approach was fully supported by the Horse Welfare Board and has been approved by the BHA board as the consultation would require a significant focus from senior officials who are involved in the formation and delivery of the sport’s coronavirus operational plan, and it was intended that the consultation itself would include a substantial element of face-to-face and group discussion. A new timetable will be agreed at an appropriate point in the future.

Barry Johnson, the Horse Welfare Board’s Independent Chair, said:

“The Horse Welfare Board fully supported the BHA’s request to postpone the planned consultation on the whip and will work with the BHA, at an appropriate time, to agree a new timetable. We are keen to ensure that any consultation on the whip is done thoroughly and well, with maximum involvement from people in the sport, which would be enormously challenging in the current circumstances. This postponement will allow British racing to focus on more immediate concerns relating to the welfare of people and horses. The Horse Welfare Board will support these efforts in any possible way and applauds the exceptional work that thousands of people in the industry are continuing to do on a daily basis, in caring for future, current and retired racehorses.”

Early closing races
Early closing deadlines have been temporarily suspended meaning races which were previously early closers will revert to closing at the normal five or six day stage as and when racing resumes. This will affect prize money levels, which will now be advertised 10 days before each race with the entry fees adjusted accordingly. Entries for the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, which have already closed, will be cancelled and these races will provisionally be programmed to close at the five/six day stage.

Entries for other races which have already closed will stand but will be subject to ongoing review which will include prize money and entry fee levels.

Hunter Chases

Irrespective of when racing may return, all Hunter Chases for the remainder of the 2019/20 season, which ends in May, have been cancelled. This is due to the cancellation of the 2019/20 Point-to-Point season. Fixtures containing one Hunter Chase may be replaced with another race if appropriate.


Musselburgh’s current licence is due to expire on 31 March. Renewal of the licence was previously contingent upon the completion of a deal with a third-party operator. In light of current circumstances and to allow for more time for this deal to be completed, an extension to the licence has been approved by the BHA board.

Flat jockey seminars

The biennial BHA seminars for Flat jockeys which were due to take place in April and May have been cancelled. The BHA will be in contact with Flat jockeys at an appropriate point in the future with regards to re-scheduling the seminars.

Rule changes

The BHA executive has been authorised by the BHA board to use the existing provisions under the Rules of Racing to waive, amend or suspend the Rules of Racing whilst racing is suspended and Government restrictions remain in place. This is to ensure the BHA can act and respond quickly as the situation with corona virus develops to fully assist participants when required. Oversight of the process will be provided by the Non-executive Directors with responsibility for regulation.