The British Horseracing Board has decided to extend the deadline by which up to two reserves may replace non-runners in Heritage Handicaps, following consideration of the issue over recent months.
With effect from Thursday 5th August, reserves will be permitted to be introduced into Heritage Handicaps, all of which have 48-hour declarations, until 1pm on the day before the race, rather than the current 9.30am on the day before the race.
In the event that the top weight is a non-runner, the weights will be raised only if the horse had been notified as a non-runner by 10.30am on the day before the race, the point at which overnight declarations are released by Weatherbys.
BHB Communications Manager Alan Delmonte said: “This is the first year that we have had reserves and we have said from the outset that we are committed to retaining a flexible approach.
“We began with the 9.30am cut-off to help trainers of the reserves. Where those horses had alternative engagements, the trainers would be certain at declaration time for the next day’s racing (10am or 10.15am) whether or not the horse was going to get a run in the Heritage Handicap.
“However, during consultation, trainers have indicated that they would now prefer there to be a longer period in which reserves may be introduced after non-runners are notified.
“We next plan to address the question of whether the deadline should be extended further to allow reserves to come in on the day of the race, a change which has been promoted in some quarters.
“We ruled this out when introducing the reserves system because on balance the downsides – particularly for punters and morning newspaper readers – were considered to outweigh the upsides. As part of the ongoing review process, it is something that we will have another look at.”