06 Jan 1998 Pre-2014 Releases

Monitoring and Assessment of Poor Jumpers

Published: 6 January 1998

The Jockey Club’s ‘Procedure for the Suspension and Assessment of horses that jump poorly’ formally came into effect on 1st January 1998. Any horse which now falls and/or unseats its rider on three consecutive racecourse outings, or fails to complete the course five times in succession, runs the risk of being barred from running again until passed fit to return to the track following an assessment of its jumping ability. The falls or non-completions will trigger a review of the horse’s ability and its trainer will be contacted accordingly.

Prior to a horse falling three times, Racecourse Stewards can also take action under the new Instruction to either warn a trainer that his horse’s jumping was not acceptable, or to refer the matter to Portman Square with a recommendation that the horse be assessed. Every case will be considered on its merits and mitigating circumstances will be taken into account.

The proposal was one of several recommendations in a report published by the Jockey Club in December 1996. The principal aim of the report was to reduce the risk of serious injury to both jockeys and horses by ensuring that horses were better educated prior to appearing on the racecourse.

Since the publication of the report, much care and attention has been given to the monitoring of poor jumpers on the racecourse, and in some cases action has been taken, although before the start of this year there was no official Jockey Club Instruction. The relevant computer software has now been implemented and a number of racecourse stewards, with National Hunt backgrounds, have agreed to act as assessors together with a Jockey Club Official, who is either a retired jockey or trainer.

Malcolm Wallace, the Jockey Club’s Director of Regulation, said yesterday: “Fortunately, we don’t have a big problem to deal with but just one dangerous horse on the racecourse is one too many. Horses and jockeys have enough problems to deal with without ill-prepared horses creating extra danger. We have selected assessors whose decision will not be questioned. For example, Dick Saunders is looking after the area in which I live. Both trainers and jockeys are foursquare behind the initiative.”

Notes for Editors:

1. The monitoring system came into effect on 1st January 1998, any falls or failures to complete prior to that date will not contribute to the triggering of an assessment of a horse, i.e. all horses began the year with a clean slate.

2. Assessment consists of a horse being able to jump two or three fences, including an open ditch, at near racing pace.

3. Other recommendations from the report which have already been implemented include mandatory courses for prospective trainers, stiffer assessment of trainer’s knowledge and experience, an increase in the minimum requirement of schooling facilities and unannounced spot checks of training yards.