Following an extensive consultation process across all of Racing’s stakeholders, the British Horseracing Board has formally approved the principles behind the sport’s Seasons and Championships.
The Flat Season will run in any year from the day the Lincoln Handicap is programmed to the afternoon the November Handicap is programmed. In 2007, therefore, the Flat Season commences at Newcastle on Saturday 31st March and will conclude at Doncaster on Saturday 10th November.
Races on Turf and All Weather Track will count towards the owners, trainers, jockeys and apprentice jockeys’ Championships within the Flat Season, and the BHB Board has also approved the principle that both jockeys’ titles be determined by number of wins, and the owners and trainers’ titles be determined by overall Prize Money. Discussions will take place with the Jockeys Association of Great Britain (JAGB) and other industry associations on how best to raise further the profile of each Championship.
The Jump Season will continue to run in any year from the first day after the Betfred Gold Cup Meeting at Sandown Park is programmed until the final day that meeting is programmed the following year. The necessary amendments have been made to the Orders and Rules of Racing, and the same principles will apply to the Jump Championships as with the Flat Championships.
BHB has also commissioned Links of London to produce, for the first time, perpetual trophies for the Flat and Jump Championships. The trophies for the Champion Flat owner, trainer and jockey will be displayed on Channel 4’s Morning Line this weekend, and the trophies for the Champion Jump owner, trainer and jockey will be presented at Sandown Park on 28th April. Engraving of the previous winners of each championship – as far back as the 1840s in some cases – will soon be carried out.
Further discussion on other recommendations approved in principle by the BHB Board that stem from the Seasons and Championships summit in 2006 will be taking place with various racecourses as part of the compilation of the 2008 Fixture List.
Proposals from the JAGB to trial a restriction on jockeys’ working schedules when the Fixture List is at its busiest have also been approved by the BHB Board. Flat jockeys will be able to ride at a maximum of nine meetings in Britain during the racing week, commencing on 21st April 2007 until the end of the summer evening racing period in 2007. Each racing week will commence on a Saturday, and the necessary computer development work has been carried out by Weatherbys. Discussions will take place with HRA over the next week regarding the introduction of an appropriate Rule.
BHB Racing Director Ruth Quinn said: “We set out to include all sectors of the sport in a wide-ranging review that would bring clarity to our Seasons and Championships, and strengthen Racing as a whole, not least its ability to promote itself. Notions of a ‘Flat Turf’ season are no longer applicable with year-round All Weather Track racing, and we will continue to work with racecourses and broadcasters to bring more emphasis to the beginning and end of the new Flat Season.
“Much debate has taken place on jockeys’ working schedules, but it is important to remember that the concept was initially put forward by the jockeys themselves. We have been delighted to work with them to develop a trial which we firmly believe is proportionate, meaningful, and underpinned by sound health and safety considerations.”