Jump racing returns to Southwell from 13 November

06 Nov 2020 BHA Features Racecourse Welfare

Joint press release

  • Work completed following detailed statistical analysis of chase and hurdle courses and horse-related factors
  • Four key recommendations published to modify existing fences and make changes to race programme
  • Plans already underway to implement all relevant recommendations prior to next Jump fixture at track on 13 November

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Arena Racing Company (ARC) have today confirmed Jump racing will return to Southwell from 13 November following the completion of detailed work into the circumstances surrounding Jump fatalities at the track between 1 July and 3 September.

An executive summary of the work, which was carried out by the BHA’s veterinary team, racecourse department and course inspectors alongside ARC, as well as the key recommendations can be read here.

Detailed statistical analysis was undertaken of the races run between 1 July and 3 September compared with previous years, with sectional timing analysis also used to identify any consistent themes which may have led to the fatalities. Feedback was also collated from relevant stakeholder bodies and participants.

Four key recommendations in relation to fence construction and the race programme were developed as a result, and following the completion of the work and agreement between the BHA and ARC that all changes would be enacted, the decision has been taken to allow Jump racing to return to Southwell. As with all racecourses, the situation at Southwell will be kept under constant review.

A schooling morning to trial the modifications made to fences took place on Wednesday 4 November, with a number of leading trainers and jockeys present to test, and offer feedback on, the amendments made.

Brant Dunshea, Chief Regulatory Officer of the BHA, said:

“The BHA and ARC have worked together to comprehensively review the incidents at Southwell between July and early September, while racing was temporarily suspended at the course as a precaution.

“Having completed analysis of the racing in that period, all those involved agreed there are a small number of changes that can be made which will have a positive impact.

“We appreciate the input from stakeholders and will continue the work already underway to make changes to some of the physical factors at the course, with the aim of making changes to the race programme at the appropriate point in the future.

“The safety of our participants is the top priority for everyone involved in British racing and the sport is constantly taking steps to assess potential risk factors and make improvements where necessary. This process of ongoing review, assessment and improvement has resulted in the fatality, injury and faller rates in jump racing reducing by around one third in the last 20 years.”

Jon Pullin, Racing Director at Arena Racing Company, said: “We are extremely grateful to BHA and all of those who have assisted in this review. The recommendations that it has made have been fully implemented at Southwell, ahead of the resumption of jump racing at the racecourse on 13 November.”

“The amendments to the steeplechase fences have been a focus of the work undertaken by the racecourse team in preparation for this upcoming meeting, working alongside jockeys and trainers to make sure that the recommendations from the review are met. The physical changes to the fences sit alongside the other ongoing work, which includes the race programme, as part of our constant review of racing operations at Southwell and all of our sites.”

Charlie Longsdon, who was present at the schooling morning and plans to have runners at Southwell’s next fixture on 13 November, said:

“The changes that have been made to the fences are a positive step and based on the schooling morning we were very happy with how the horses were jumping them. The jockeys who rode over them were happy too and we’re looking forward to having runners at Southwell at the next fixture.”