Race programme update

13 Jan 2021 BHA Features Racing/Fixtures

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today confirmed a number of changes to the upcoming race programme, driven in part by the rise in COVID-19 infections across the UK and the ongoing government restrictions to try and contain the spread of the virus.

These decisions have been taken by the racing industry’s COVID-19 group which includes representatives from racecourses and horsemen and which keeps COVID protocols under constant review to determine how racing can continue to strengthen its approach.

Amateur riders

Amateur riders will not be permitted to take part in races under the Rules from this Saturday, 16 January, onwards. This is in line with government restrictions around the definition of elite sport and the associated suspension of grassroots sport. Existing races will have their conditions changed to allow for professional riders only until further notice.

Hunter chases

Hunter chases will continue to be programmed but, in line with the restrictions outlined above will be open to professional riders only. This includes conditional riders. The base weights for these races will be reduced in line with other professional races and the associated race conditions will be updated accordingly.

Reminder: two-year-old novice and maiden programme

As announced September, the beginning of the upcoming Flat turf season will see changes made to the two-year-old Novice and Maiden programme, with restricted races merged into one race type. This aims to increase the number of races available for each horse to run in, whilst also providing a suitable balance of opportunities across the race programme for different types of horses.

Horses can qualify for these races through their auction value, or, if they have no auction value, their median auction value. This means that there will no longer be two-year-old Auction or Median Auction races, but instead five categories of Novice or Maiden race as shown in the table below:

Auction value
Median auction value
4+ Open N/A N/A 565
4+ Band A Restricted £50,001-£80,000 <£60,000 35
5 Band B Restricted £30,001-£50,000 <£40,000 65
5 Band C Restricted £15,001-£30,000 <£25,000 150
6 Band D Restricted £1- £15,000 <£12,500 75


Following a review of the autumn sales, these value thresholds for the Restricted Race Bands have now been finalised. To highlight an example, the race conditions for a Band C Restricted Novice or Maiden race would be as follows:

Open to two-year-old Novice horses which:

  • Sold at auction for no more than £30,000
  • Or, if they were not sold at auction, whose sire has a median price of no more than £25,000

Furthermore, any horse running in a Band A-D Restricted Race will receive a 2lb weight allowance for each Band it runs in above that which it is qualified for. For example, a horse that was sold for a value of £10,000 would receive a 4lb allowance when running in a Band B Restricted race. Similarly, a horse that had no auction value but with a median value of £33,000 would receive a 2lb allowance when running in a Band A Restricted race because it qualifies for a Band B Restricted race. No weight allowances would be given in Open Novice and Maiden races on account of banding.

Note, the auction value will always be used for qualification purposes where a horse was sold under the hammer. So, a horse with a higher auction value than median auction will qualify on its auction value.