“Northern Lights” series to boost jump racing in the North

16 Nov 2016 Grassroots Racing/Fixtures

  • Five series aimed at mid-tier jump horses to be programmed at jump racing tracks from Doncaster northwards
  • Series culminate in five £25k Finals to be run on Northern Lights Finals Day at Carlisle racecourse in December 2017
  • Series designed to provide incentive to own and train horses in the north and stimulate investment into the grass roots of the sport in this region

Jump racing in the north has today received a boost as the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced the launch of five new series of races designed to provide greater opportunities – culminating in a valuable finals day – for mid-tier jump horses at northern racecourses.

The five series have collectively been named the “Northern Lights Series” and have the objective of providing a further incentive to own and train jump horses in the north, and stimulate investment into the grassroots of the sport in this region.

75 qualifying races will be held at 14 jump racecourses north of, and including, Doncaster racecourse, from January through to November 2017. They will be primarily made up of Class 4 handicaps with the exception of a mares’ series, which will also feature some Class 5 handicaps.

The five series will culminate in a valuable finals day which will be held at Jockey Club Racecourses’ Carlisle racecourse on 3 December 2017. The five finals races will be Class 2 handicaps and will each be worth £25,000. A quality day of racing with total prize money of over £150,000 will be completed by the Listed Houghton Mares Chase on the same card.

The series are not confined exclusively to horses who are trained in the North, but any horse wanting to take part in the finals at Carlisle will be required to run in at least two qualifying races, including being placed in the first eight on at least one occasion.

The five Series and their corresponding £25,000 Finals are:

– 3m Handicap Chase Series
– 2 ½m Handicap Chase Series
– 2m Handicap Hurdle Series
– 3m Handicap Hurdle Series
– 2 ½m Mares’ Handicap Chase Series

The series has been created following the successful launch on the Jump Challenger Series, which is now in its second season and was implemented as a recommendation from the BHA’s Jump Racing Review. The benefits of the Northern Lights Series were proposed by a working group which was also established by the Jump Racing Review, with the aim of generating initiatives to support northern jump racing.

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer for the BHA, said:

“The creation of the Northern Lights Series reflects a determined and ongoing commitment by the industry to support jump racing in this region.

“Although there have been improvements in prize money and the quality of the programme at some northern racecourses, there has been a worrying decline in the population and quality of jump horses being trained in the region over recent years. This series has been designed to provide an immediate boost to participants in the north by giving the connections of mid-tier horses the opportunity to target some valuable prizes. We know such schemes are popular with grass roots owners and this series has been set at a level where it will provide a realistic target for many of the horses currently in training in the north.

“It is clear that further focus is needed and initiatives will continue to be developed in other areas to support the future of northern jump racing.”

Fife-based trainer Nick Alexander said:

“It is fantastic that the BHA and Jockey Club Racecourses have come together to put on this series and the Finals day at Carlisle on the first Sunday of December next year promises to be a competitive card racing for excellent prize money at what can be a quiet time of year. It is really encouraging to see support for mid-tier horses whose owners deserve decent prizes to aim at, there are a lot more owners with this type of horse than top class horses and they need encouragement to invest in the sport as much as anyone”.

James Ewart, trainer of jump and flat horses from his yard in Dumfriesshire, added:

“It is very exciting to have a jumps series such as this to benefit the northern based owners and trainers. The Northern Lights series will give us all something aspirational and valuable to aim towards with jumps horses who are competing at below the highest level, it’s an excellent incentive to own and train jumps horses in the north.”

Geraldine McKay, General Manager at The Jockey Club’s Carlisle Racecourse, said:

“Northern Lights gives a fantastic boost for racing in the North and we are delighted to be able to increase further Jockey Club Racecourses’s support and contribution as part of it. This includes the finals day at Carlisle where our £61,000 fixture become a circa £161,000 card. Carlisle provides quality opportunities for all types of horse at a very fair track and we are proud to be part of the development of the likes of Seeyouatmidnight, Pineau de Re and Many Clouds just in recent years.”

Notes to Editors

1. The 14 Racecourses eligible to stage series qualifiers are:

Aintree, Ayr, Carlisle, Cartmel, Catterick Bridge, Doncaster, Haydock Park, Hexham, Kelso, Musselburgh, Newcastle, Perth, Sedgefield and Wetherby.

2. The Finals will be Class 2 Handicaps with a top weight of 11st 12lb equating to a rating of 125 at entry. Any horses rated above 125 at entry will still be permitted to run but must carry the extra weight equating to their rating. Full details will be included in the race conditions of the Finals.

3. The BHA’s Jump racing Review can be found here: http://www.britishhorseracing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Jump-Racing-Review-2015.pdf

4. The Northern Jump Racing Working Group includes Nick Alexander, Harvey Smith, Hazel Peplinski, Bill Farnsworth, James Ewart, Jonjo Sanderson, Peter Craggs, Lord Daresbury, Dale Gibson, Alan Halsall, Nick Rust, Richard Wayman, Richard Russell, Mark Olley and Martin Greenwood.

5. More information about the Challenger Series can be found here: https://challengerseries.org/

6. Data regarding jump racing in the north can be found here:

Volume of Racing:

Staged fixture
Year North Industry North % share
2004 151 507 29.78%
2005 144 499 28.86%
2006 142 509 27.90%
2007 139 485 28.66%
2008 143 506 28.26%
2009 138 506 27.27%
2010 124 482 25.73%
2011 158 571 27.67%
2012 143 515 27.77%
2013 154 538 28.62%
2014 167 546 30.59%
2015 175 589 29.71%

 

The Race Programme: 

Races run in the North by class
Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 4 Class 5 Class 6
2006 41 50 183 460 134 79
2007 43 50 189 421 154 65
2008 41 59 180 444 178 52
2009 45 60 181 415 162 55
2010 44 48 159 395 142 51
2011 43 60 174 505 216 79
2012 52 61 161 427 193 89
2013 50 63 183 495 207 81
2014 59 65 213 506 232 88
2015 63 73 191 490 211 85
Northern races run by Class – Industry share
Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 4 Class 5 Class 6
2006 27% 31% 27% 29% 25% 32%
2007 27% 30% 29% 28% 27% 34%
2008 26% 32% 27% 29% 29% 29%
2009 29% 34% 27% 27% 27% 24%
2010 30% 30% 27% 26% 24% 24%
2011 25% 34% 29% 28% 25% 27%
2012 30% 36% 32% 28% 23% 28%
2013 28% 33% 30% 31% 25% 24%
2014 30% 34% 32% 31% 28% 30%
2015 32% 35% 29% 29% 28% 29%

Prize Money:

Advertised prize money per Fixture (‘000)              
  2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
North av PM/Fixture 67.6 70.4 73.6 71.8 76.5 75.4 67.8 60 66.3 76.3 77.9 81.4
Industry av PM/Fixture 67.6 67.5 72.9 71.1 72.4 72.2 63.2 55.7 59.8 71.6 73.1 76.2
Difference -0.1 2.9 0.8 0.7 4 3.2 4.7 4.3 6.5 4.8 4.8 5.2

Horses in Training:

Jump
Year North Midlands South Northern % Share
2005 2,310 2,790 3,633 26.45%
2006 2,397 2,777 3,708 26.99%
2007 2,389 2,811 3,729 26.76%
2008 2,601 2,989 4,286 26.34%
2009 2,651 3,233 4,757 24.91%
2010 2,464 3,226 4,609 23.92%
2011 2,321 3,324 4,470 22.95%
2012 2,158 3,244 4,279 22.29%
2013 2,071 3,267 4,087 21.97%
2014 1,928 3,187 3,921 21.34%
2015 1,946 3,434 3,913 20.94%

Average Field Size: 

Year AFS North AFS Industry North Variance
2004 10.3 10.2 0.1
2005 10.5 10.5 -0.1
2006 10.6 10.5 0.2
2007 10.7 10.5 0.2
2008 10.8 10.7 0.1
2009 10.1 10.1 0
2010 9.7 9.6 0.1
2011 9.2 9 0.3
2012 8.7 8.9 -0.3
2013 8.7 8.9 -0.2
2014 8.1 8.2 -0.1
2015 8.4 8.4 0