Comprehensive Review of Jump Racing underway

13 Apr 2015 Grassroots Racecourse Racing/Fixtures
  • Cross-industry committee meets to kick off detailed Review of British Jump Racing
  • Objectives are to assess the health of the sport, identify challenges and deliver recommendations to safeguard future of the code and deliver growth
  • Areas of focus range from race programme and field sizes to participation, breeding and prize money, with grass roots and middle tiers a particular focus

A comprehensive Review of British Jump Racing instigated by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has commenced today, with a committee consisting of cross-industry expertise meeting at the BHA’s offices to discuss the health and future of the code.

The objectives of the Review are: to assess the health of Jump racing; identify and examine the threats and challenges faced by Jump racing and create logical and deliverable solutions to these challenges; and to form a long-term strategy for the sport which outlines a path from which future growth and success can be delivered.

The Review is being chaired by former Managing Director of Cheltenham Racecourse Edward Gillespie.

Particular areas of focus for the Review will include the race programme, field sizes, participation, ownership, breeding, horse population, prize money, sales, racecourse attendances, media and betting trends. The code will be reviewed not only as a single entity but also from a regional viewpoint and the review will pay particular attention to the health of the sport at its grass-roots and middle tiers.

Ruth Quinn, Director of Racing for the BHA, said:

“Having just come off the back of a successful Grand National meeting, which was itself hot on the heels of another memorable Cheltenham Festival, some might be forgiven for thinking that Jump racing is in perfect health.

“Indeed we have a great deal to be positive and proud about. Attendances and betting turnover at Cheltenham and Aintree reached record levels and the quality of the Jump racing product at the top end remains first class, and continues to capture the imagination of the British Public.

“However, a look beneath the bonnet reveals challenges and concerns which need to be addressed in order to secure the long-term health of the sport. Without an industry functioning properly, from the grass-roots up, then the future security and success of the sport at all levels is at risk.

“This comprehensive, cross-industry Review is designed to, firstly, give us a clear picture about the exact state of health that the industry is in, and then implement evidence-based plans to safeguard the future of the sport and ensure that we are maximising all possible opportunities for growth.

“The committee itself has been assembled to ensure that we have expertise and deep knowledge of all parts of the Jump racing industry, as well as a geographical spread of delegates.”

Edward Gillespie, Chair of the Review committee, said:

“I very much look forward to working with the Project Group and to hearing opinions from across the sport. There is so much for Jump racing to be proud of and, inevitably, areas where it is not fulfilling its potential. The sport benefited substantially from a previous Review in 2004 and the BHA feels this is an appropriate time to identify areas of improvement for the next decade.”

Richard Wayman, Chief Executive of the Racehorse Owners Association, said:

“Although the major Festival meetings headed by Cheltenham and Aintree have become incredibly successful, the rate of decline in the number of owners and horses in recent years has been significantly steeper in Jump racing than on the Flat. This Review is therefore crucially important as we need to better understand the various factors that have contributed to Jumping faring relatively badly so that a range of measures can be developed that would create the conditions in which Jump racing can thrive at all levels.”

Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association , said:

“The long-term success of Jump racing is as much dependent on the health of the grass roots as it is on the continued growth in stature of the major events, as evidently demonstrated by last week’s Crabbie’s Grand National Festival.

“We are delighted that this Review is going ahead with a broad remit and with such a well-qualified group.  I can think of no one better than Edward Gillespie to head up this important project.”

The need for the Review arose out of the BHA’s ongoing consultation with the Racing industry, both as part of the process for developing the 2015 Fixture List and generally. The Review is expected to be completed, and recommendations to be published, before the end of the calendar year.

Jump Racing was reviewed previously in 2004. Out of this Review arose various recommendations including alterations to the Pattern and race programme, the introduction of the Grade 1 Lancashire Chase at Haydock in November (known as the Betfair Chase), introduction of the Order of Merit (which is now disbanded but for a period had a positive influence on the competitiveness of winter Pattern races), reviews of Prize Money levels, the introduction of Pony Racing and several more.

Notes to Editors

1. The Review committee was compiled by a combination of stakeholder engagement and then ensuring that all aspects of the industry are covered by the expertise of those in the group. The committee members are attending on account of their knowledge base rather than as representatives of their respective organisations.

The full committee is:

Edward Gillespie (Chair)
Nick Alexander
Simon Clare
Niall Hannity
Richard Landale
John Maxse
Bryan Mayoh
Donald McCain
Steve Mellish
Lee Mottershead
Seamus Mullins
Ian Renton
Claire Sheppard
Stephen Smith
Jamie Snowden
Justin Wadham
Stuart Middleton (BHA)
Richard Russell (BHA)
Phil Smith (BHA)
Ruth Quinn (BHA)

The following key stakeholders will be reported to at particular milestones:

National Trainers Federation
Racehorse Owners Association
Professional Jockeys Association
Thoroughbred Breeders Association
Racecourse Association
British Horseracing Authority
Horserace Betting Levy Board
The Horsemen’s Group
The BHA’s Jump Racing Committee