The British Horseracing Board today confirms the formation of six new Mares’ Pattern and Listed races, with a total value of £320,000, which have been designed to reflect the increasing number of mares racing in Britain, strengthen Black Type opportunities for mares’ within the Pattern, and encourage owners and trainers to keep campaigning them at the top level.
Of the new races, the flagship will be a Grade 2 mares’ hurdle race on totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup day at The Festival, worth £100,000. The three new Grade 2 races will provide the backbone of the programme, increasing the overall number of Black Type mares’ races in Britain to eleven. Three new Listed races are also being created.
Discussed at length by the BHB’s Jump Racing Committee and approved by the BHB’s Race Planning Committee, the new races allow the best mares to run for Black Type against their own sex, without the need to run in handicaps. It is hoped that they will repeat the success of a similar development which was put in place as part of a European-wide initiative on the Flat three seasons ago.
The six new races are as follows:
2 mile Listed hurdle in November at Wetherby
2 mile 5 furlong Listed hurdle in November at Kempton Park
2 mile 4 furlong Listed hurdle in January at Sandown Park
3 mile Grade 2 hurdle in January at Ascot
2 mile Grade 2 hurdle in January at Doncaster
2 mile 4 ½ furlong Grade 2 hurdle in March at Cheltenham
In keeping with the system used to assess Flat Pattern and Listed races, a 7lb lower parameter will be applied to all mares’ only contests and the mares allowance of 7lb will be added to the rating of any mare featuring subsequently in any Open Pattern races.
Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association National Hunt Committee Chairman Toby Balding said “This is a welcome opportunity for the breeding industry and mares in particular, and hopefully will encourage the number of mares coming in to training and consequently see them qualify for these valuable races.”
BHB Racing Manager Stuart Middleton said: “Owners and breeders were telling us that they would be far more likely to keep their better mares in training for longer, if non-handicap Black Type opportunities were programmed. With greater strength in depth amongst the current crop of mares, we believe the time is right to attempt to capitalise on this for the good of the whole industry.”
The current mares’ races within the British Jump Pattern are:
2 mile ½ furlong Listed NHF race in March at Sandown Park
2 mile 6 ½ furlong Listed novice chase in March at Newbury
2 mile 5 furlong Listed novice hurdle in March at Newbury
2 mile 1 furlong Listed NHF race in April at Aintree
2 mile 5 ½ furlong Listed hurdle in April at Cheltenham