Mares’ Chase Programme Receives Further Boosts

25 Jul 2016 Racing/Fixtures
  • Four New Listed Mares’ Chases added to the programme for 2016/17
  • Challenger Series Mares’ Chase Qualifiers also added to autumn calendar
  • In total nine new Mares’ Chases programmed
  • Races designed to provide further incentive for mares to be kept in training

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced that four additional Mares’ Listed Chases have been added to the race programme, creating a further significant boost to an area which has been subject to sustained enhancements in recent years.

The four additional races are:

  • 3 November Market Rasen Mares’ Steeple Chase over 3 miles
  • 9 November Bangor-on-Dee Mares’ Novices’ Steeple Chase over 2 miles
  • 8 December Warwick Mares’ Novices’ Steeple Chase over 2½ miles
  • 23 January* Leicester Mares’ Steeple Chase over 2m7½f
    *Provisional date

The races are designed to complement the two Listed Chases for mares which were added to the programme last season at Carlisle and Huntingdon, together with the Chase at Doncaster which was introduced for the 2014/15 season. The races represent a further enhancement to a long list of initiatives aimed at providing incentives to own and train Jumping mares.

The Doncaster race in December has also seen its total prize fund enhanced to £50,000 this season, which represents the foundations of an ambitious long-term plan for the race.

Moreover, the BHA recently announced that a Mares’ Chase Series would be added to the popular Challenger Series in its second season, featuring a series of 10 qualifying races culminating in a £50,000 final at Haydock Park on Easter Saturday in 2017. The first five of these qualifying races have also now been programmed and include races at Wetherby, Cheltenham, Fakenham, Worcester and the soon to re-open Hereford.

The Challenger Series races, which are aimed more at mid-tier (Class 3-4) mares, mean that not only the top quality horses are being offered incentives and opportunity, but those across the entire ability range.

In total between the two initiatives nine new Chases for mares have been added to the programme, injecting further opportunities and prize money for mares across the length and breadth of the country.

The number of mares’ races in the Jumping calendar has grown from 182 in 2008/09 to 328 in 2015/16, reflecting the level of investment in this category. The additions for 2016/17 will further enhance that investment. The total number of mares’ Black Type races in Great Britain now stands at 29.

Ruth Quinn, the BHA’s Director of International Racing and Racing Development, said:

“The addition of these races marks a further bolstering of an area of the programme which we have developed significantly in recent years. Developing an aspirational programme for Jumping mares provides a clear incentive for them to be put into training, kept in training for a number of years, and able to be campaigned fully such that they can progress to the peak of their ability. There has never been a better time to own or train a mare.

“Our aim is to continue to develop these opportunities over time and to grow the pool of horses for whom they are designed. We have made it clear that we would love to see a mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in the not too distant future, which would certainly provide a powerful lure to owners and trainers of progressive mares. The public enjoy seeing talented mares competing over fences, and we hope to provide enough meaningful incentives such that we deliver a growing strength in depth, with the best of them able to compete effectively at the top level.”

Trainer Venetia Williams, who is known for training quality Chasing mares, added:

“It’s extremely pleasing to see the sport investing so much into the mares’ programme. I personally take huge satisfaction and enjoyment from training quality mares but have often felt in the past that the opportunities haven’t always existed for them. We now have a race programme which caters much better for their needs and long may this continue.”

Notes to Editors

1. The full list of Listed Mares’ Chases which have been added to the programme from 2015 is as follows (new races in bold):

3 November – Market Rasen – Mares’ Steeple Chase over 3 miles

9 November – Bangor-on-Dee – Mares’ Novices’ Steeple Chase over 2 miles
27 November – Existing Mares’ Steeple Chase at Carlisle over 2½ miles
8 December – Warwick – Mares’ Novices’ Steeple Chase over 2½ miles
29 December – Existing Mares’ Steeple Chase at Doncaster over 2½ miles
23 January 2017** – Leicester – Mares’ Steeple Chase over 2m7½f
23 February 2017** – Existing Mares’ Steeple Chase at Huntingdon over 2½ miles

2. The qualifying races for the Mares’ Challenger Series which have been programmed so far are as listed below. The remaining five qualifiers will be programmed in Q1 of 2017.

The Challenger Mares’ Staying Chase Series

Date                Venue                          Rating Band    Class   Distance
19 October      Worcester                   0-110               4          3m
31 October      Hereford                      0-130               3          2½m
15 November  Fakenham                  0-120               4          3m
9 December    Cheltenham                0-125               4          2½m
27 December  Wetherby                    0-120               4          3m

3. Initiatives which have been put in place to bolster the mares’ Jumping programme so far:

  • 2003 – Introduction of three Class 2, £30,000 Open Mares’ Handicap Hurdles at Wincanton, Kempton and Ayr, match-funded by the BHA Development Fund.
  • 2007 – Introduction of three WFA Listed Hurdles at Wetherby, Kempton and Sandown and three Grade 2’s at Ascot, Doncaster and Cheltenham (David Nicholson).
  • 2012 – Introduction of seven Listed Mares’ Novices’ Hurdles, across the age and distance categories.
  • 2013 – Introduction of two additional Mares’ National Hunt Flat races in the autumn, to complement the existing races at Sandown and Aintree in the spring.
  • 2014 – Further Listed Hurdle added at Warwick in February.
  • 2014 – The first (non-novices’) Listed Mares’ WFA Steeple Chase introduced at Doncaster in December.
  • 2015 – David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle promoted to Grade 1
  • 2015 – The Board approved a new Rule for Jump racing requiring each racecourse to run a minimum of one mares’ race for every three Jump racing fixtures it schedules.
  • 2015/16 – Two further (non-novices’) Listed Mares’ WFA Steeple Chases introduced at Carlisle in November and Huntingdon in February.
  • 2016 – Introduction of new Grade 2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle to the Cheltenham Festival and the upgrade of Sandown’s ‘Jane Seymour’ Listed Novices’ Hurdle to Grade 2.
  • 2016/17 – Addition of Mares’ Chase Series to the Challenger Series, including 10 qualifying races and a £50,000 Final.
  • 2016/17 – Addition of four further Listed Mares’ Chases to race programme

4. Further information about the addition of the Mares’ Chase Series to the Challenger Series can be found here: http://www.britishhorseracing.com/press_releases/mares-chase-series-added-challenger-series/