A huge prize awaits the Order of Merit Champion, the horse earning the most performance-related points from every major race in the 2004/05 Winter Jump Season.
This ground-breaking initiative for Jumping offers £200,000 for the overall champion plus £50,000 for the Top Chaser and £50,000 for the Top Hurdler to support the main award, providing valuable recognition of high ability, regular participation and consistent achievement.
Jointly funded by the British Horseracing Board and participating racecourses, the Order of Merit emanates from the recent industry-wide Jump Racing Review. It aims to raise the level of competition within the Jump Pattern by encouraging the top horses to run in the best races more frequently and to enhance further the prestige of Jump Racing in Britain.
Horses will collect points according to their finishing positions in all Grade 1, 2 and 3 races, other than races restricted to Novices and National Hunt Flat Races. The structure is as follows:
Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3
1st 20 15 10
2nd 16 12 8
3rd 12 10 6
4th 10 8 5
5th 8 6 4
6th 6 4 3
7th 4 3 2
8th 2 2 1
The series begins with the totesport Wigan Handicap Chase at Aintree on Sunday 24th October 2004 and concludes with the Betfred Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Sandown Park on Saturday 23rd April 2005 and in total includes 63 races at 17 racecourses.
75% of each prize will go to the owner(s) of the horse, with one-fifth of this being in the form of vouchers for purchasing bloodstock at British sales houses. 25% of each prize will go to the stable team in cash, split 12.5% to the stable staff and 12.5% to the trainer. Prizes will be presented formally at the BHB British Jump Racing Awards ceremony in May.
In addition to the Jump Racing Order of Merit, a series open only to novices will be run. This features all Grade 1 and Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdles and Chases. The Top Novice will be recognised at the BHB Awards ceremony although without receiving a financial prize.
Retrospectively, the top points scorers in the Order of Merit in the last four seasons (excluding 2000/01, in which a significant number of fixtures were lost because of Foot and Mouth Disease) would have been Rooster Booster, Deano’s Beeno, Fadalko and See More Business, demonstrating that it is possible for the competition to be won by a hurdler or a chaser competing over shorter or longer distances.
Chris John, BHB Marketing Director, commented: “The Order of Merit is a very exciting development. It will be a great platform for Jump Racing to reach a wider audience and also provide a common thread between races run from October through to April. We very much hope that it will lead the best horses to run against each other in Britain more often and generate additional positive media coverage. It is very likely that the overall winner will also be the Top Chaser or Top Hurdler, taking their prize to £250,000.”
Edward Gillespie, Managing Director of Cheltenham Racecourse and a member of the Jump Racing Review, said: “Graded races are the cream of our race programme and we want them to have an aura of being extra special. Our aim is to get owners and trainers thinking actively about campaigning their horses regularly in these top events. This will be good for the sport, which needs to be highly competitive and attractive for spectators, the media and the betting industry.”
Full details about the Jump Racing Order of Merit can be found at stage.britishhorseracing.com/orderofmerit