Mares the focus as BHA Jump Pattern Committee announces changes for 2018/19 season

03 Oct 2018 BHA Features Racing/Fixtures

The British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) Jump Pattern Committee has today announced a number of changes to British Jump Pattern and Listed races for the 2018/19 season.

The majority of the changes relate to the ongoing project to develop the mares’ Black Type programme, which aims to encourage a greater number of quality mares to be put into training and for them to be campaigned more ambitiously and for longer over jumps.

Two new contests have been added to the programme to take place over the second half of the season, at Doncaster and Exeter, with an upgrade to an existing contest at Cheltenham in April. Changes have also made to two existing mares’ contests at Newbury and Leicester.  In addition, changes have been made to the conditions of Wincanton’s Elite Hurdle, which will be run as a weight-for-age race from 2018.

In a related move, the three longstanding EBF/TBA Mares’ Series’ Finals have reverted to requiring horses to run in a qualifier in order to be eligible to run in the relevant series’ final.

Details of the new or upgraded contests for fillies and mares are as follows:

Racecourse and date Race Distance Age
Doncaster, 25 January 2019 The Doncaster Racecourse Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle Race (Listed) 2m ½f 4yo
Exeter, 10 February 2019 The Exeter Racecourse Mares’ Steeple Chase (Listed) 3m 5yo+
Cheltenham, 18 April 2019 The Arkells Brewery Fillies’ Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3) 2m ½f 4yo

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

“The upgrades and changes announced today for the 2018/19 season show ongoing progress in the work to develop the population of jumping mares. This remains a long-term BHA project, with the aim being to deliver graduated growth in the programme in order to provide sufficient incentive to enact behavioural change in breeders, buyers and owners, such that more mares are given the chance to develop to the best of their ability on the racecourse, before then perhaps becoming broodmares.

“The objective will not be delivered overnight and tangible success may not become apparent for several years, but there continue to be positive signs in terms of the overall quality of the mares in training, and around activity at the sales and the prices that mares are now fetching.”

Simon Claisse, Regional Head of Racing for the south west region of The Jockey Club and Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham said:

“We have been working alongside BHA for a number of years developing the Mares Black Type Programme, which includes the Grade 1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at The Festival and the Grade 2 Mares Novices’ Hurdle, introduced three years ago.

“To further develop the pattern we will now run an additional Mares’ only race at Exeter and upgrade the Arkells Brewery Mares Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, which takes place on our Mares’-only day at The April Meeting.”

Trainer Dan Skelton said:

“The juvenile fillies handicap hurdle at Cheltenham which we won with Stylish Dancer earlier in the year has the potential to become a really competitive contest.

“Giving the race Black Type status is definitely a step in the right direction and it gives the best horses in their age group a chance to compete for it, which is exactly as it should be.”

Roderick Duncan, Clerk of the Course at Doncaster Racecourse said:

“We are very happy to have worked with BHA to introduce this race and further support the National Hunt programme for Fillies and Mares and more generally at Doncaster.”

Acknowledging that the annual population of juvenile fillies in training in recent years would not have been sufficient to sustain its own Black Type programme, the Jump Pattern Committee has taken the longer-term view that, without these new opportunities, there is not the incentive for connections to attempt to source young, high-quality fillies in sufficient numbers.

It is therefore hoped that these new races will complement the existing Listed Juvenile Fillies’ race at Aintree in December and act as a catalyst for growth of the horse population in this area.  If at the end of three years the initiative is not showing any sign of delivering a positive impact, the Committee may revisit the Black Type status of these races.

Details of changes being made to existing contests are as follows:

Racecourse and date Race Distance Age Change
Wincanton, 10 November 2018 The Unibet Elite Hurdle Race (Grade 2) 2m ½f 4yo+ Changed from a limited handicap to weight-for-age conditions race
Newbury, 19 December 2018 The TBA Mares’ Steeple Chase (Listed) 2m 7½f 4yo+ No longer restricted to novices
Leicester, 10 January 2019 The Charnwood Forest Mares’ Steeple Chase (Listed) 2m 5yo+ Distance changed from 2m 6½f to 2m and moved two weeks earlier
Huntingdon, 25 January 2019 The Lady Protectress Mare’s Steeple Chase (Listed) 2m 4f 5yo+ Moved from late February to late January
Sandown, 9 March 2019 The EBF/TBA Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race Series Final (Listed) 2m 4-6yo Mares which have been placed in the first six in a Qualifier will be eligible to enter the Final
Newbury, 23 March 2019 The EBF/TBA Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle Race Series Final (Grade 2) 2m 4½f 4yo+ Mares which have been placed in the first six in a Qualifier will be eligible to enter the Final
Cheltenham, 18 April 2019 The EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Steeple Chase Series Final (Listed) 2m 5f 5yo+ Mares which have been placed in the first eight in a Qualifier will be eligible to enter the Final

Notes to editors:

1. BHA’s Jump Pattern Committee is responsible for maintaining the programme of Jump Pattern and Listed races in Britain. Any possible changes to Pattern and Listed races are assessed on the basis of the quality of runners over the previous three years, the average field size attracted by the race, the overall balance of the race programme, the requirements of the relevant section of the horse population, and the effect of any upgrade on the shape of the British Jump Pattern as a whole.

2. The press release outlining the full list of upgrades for the 2017/18 season can be found here.

3. The BHA Jump Pattern Committee comprises the following members:

Mrs Lucinda Cavendish (Chair)
Ed Arkell
Richard Aston
Anthony Bromley
David Cleary
Philip Hobbs
Sam Hoskins
Emma Lavelle
Steve Mellish
Paul Nicholls
Richard Norris
Ruth Quinn