At its meeting yesterday, the BHB Board approved the recommendation that only horses rated 130 and above be permitted to compete in Cheltenham’s four non-novice Grade 1 races.
The proposal was initially put forward by Cheltenham racecourse following its review of the 2006 Festival and discussed and approved by BHB’s Race Planning and Jump Racing Committees before being considered by the Board.
The new race conditions will take effect at the 2007 Festival and apply to the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Entries for the four races in question will be made in January, but the rating restriction will take effect at the six-day entry stage, at which point supplementary entries are also possible.
Similar restrictions on other non-novice Grade 1 races may be considered at a future date, but would again be subject to discussion with individual racecourses.
BHB Racing Director Ruth Quinn said: “This was felt by Cheltenham and the BHB Board to be an appropriate course of action to take. These are four of British Racing’s highest profile races and should be designed to attract top class performers. Such action reflects BHB’s oft-stated principle on meritocracy, and there are of course other opportunities in which horses rated less than 130 can compete at the Festival.”
Cheltenham racecourse Director of Racing and Clerk of the Course Simon Claisse said: “Cheltenham racecourse welcomes the BHB Board’s approval of our recommendation.”