Fillies and mares are to be given the opportunity to become more competitive against their male counterparts in Jump races from 1st September when their weight allowance will rise from the current 5lb to 7lb.
Following a recommendation from its Jump Racing Advisory Panel, BHB increased the allowance in Jump Pattern races to 7lb from 5lb at the start of the 2003/04 season with a view to extending it across the board the following year. This has now been ratified by BHB.
The ratings files show that the median rating of mares is 10lb lower than that of male horses. It is intended that this imbalance can be redressed to an extent by having a 7lb allowance across the board, which it is also hoped will encourage them to stay in training.
Ensuring that more fillies and mares go jumping is a strategic aim of BHB.
BHB Communications Manager Alan Delmonte said: “The statistics show that mares win fewer races than could be expected given their representation and it is logical to extend the increased allowance to beyond Pattern races.
“As part of our plan for more fillies and mares to go jumping, Owners’ Premiums are paid at double the rate for fillies and mares and there have been a number of race planning initiatives over recent seasons.
“We have already seen some significant progress, with the number of individual runs by fillies and mares in National Hunt races virtually doubling in the last two years. There were 186 performances in 2001/02, 294 in 2002/03 and 359 last season.”
The extension of the allowance could mean that, in certain cases, a four-year-old novice chaser or a three-year-old novice hurdler might be allocated less than 10st. In these events, the race conditions will stipulate that no less than 10st may be carried.