12 Jan 2006 Pre-2014 Releases

New Jockey Club Starting Procedures For 2006/7

Published: 12 January 2006

In May 2002 an industry-wide review of starting procedures and late off times was instigated by the Jockey Club. The main point of feedback from the NTF to that review was that well behaved horses were being disadvantaged by badly behaved horses at the start. The review in 2002 brought in stricter penalties for unruly horses and also more stalls handlers. Such changes did result in better off times and behavioural improvements.

However, the current situation is that 400 horses were referred for a stalls test in 2005 – significantly higher that the past 3 years – with over 60% of the problems occurring outside the stalls.

The Jockey Club has therefore, following discussion with the NTF, set out four initiatives aimed at improving loading procedures, efficiency and safety at the start, as follows:

(a) A 3 month trial (Jan-Mar 2006) on AW tracks of loading in draw order (rather than odds and evens) – a system used in some other racing nations and being trialled to assess whether the loading process is simplified and speeded up.

(b) Two loading attempts only – from the start of the 2006 Flat Turf Season starters will no longer send to the rear a horse for one final chance at the end of the loading process. Previously horses that haven’t loaded after two attempts have been sent to the rear before being tried for a third and final time.

(c) A targeted extension of existing stalls tests requirements – any trainer who (during the period 1st Jan 2005 to 28th February 2006) had 10% or more of his/her individual horses identified as “badly behaved” at the start will, for the rest of 2006, not be permitted to present a horse for a stalls test for a minimum of 14 days after being referred for one.

(d) For certain trainers, a requirement for all their debutant Flat runners to undergo a new stalls certification process prior to running, with effect from the 2007 Flat Turf season. – any trainers who, between 1st Jan 2006 and 28th February 2007 has a record of 15% or more “badly behaved” individual horses as a percentage of individual runners will have to put all his/her debutant runners through a stalls certification process before they can run.

Tony Goodhew, Director of Racecourse Licensing and Standards said of these new measures: “The overriding ethos of the measures is that they must be proportionate and targeted. Trainers who have consistently produced well-prepared horses will not be adversely affected, and indeed will no longer be potentially disadvantaged as their runner stands in the stalls, waiting for a badly schooled competitor to be given another chance to load.”

12th January 2006