Resumption update: Race programme and planning

08 Sep 2020 BHA Features Racing/Fixtures

The latest resumption includes:

  • Flat Handicap qualification
  • 2-y-o Novice and Maiden programme
  • 0-50 Classified races
  • Sire and Dam restricted races
  • Amateur programme
  • Race planning forum
  • 2020 Flat Pattern Programme
  • Reminders about raceday protocols

Flat Handicap qualification

Following the delay to the 2020 flat season, changes were made to the flat handicap requirements to help more horses become eligible for a rating after just two runs.

Having reviewed this interim measure, the industry’s Racing Group has confirmed that from 1 January 2021, the rules will return to a general three-run policy, with most horses required to run three times before being eligible for a handicap rating. The exception to this rule will be for horses that win on their racecourse debut, that will continue to be eligible for a handicap rating after their second run, irrespective of placing.

As a result of these changes, with the exception of horses that won on their debut, twice-raced horses that qualified for a handicap mark under the 2020 two-run criteria will not be eligible for a rating from 1 January 2021. In such cases, the previously awarded mark will no longer apply, and these horses will be required to run for a third time before being eligible for a handicap rating.

By announcing these changes now, we hope to provide owners and trainers with sufficient notice to plan their autumn campaigns, ahead of the updated requirements coming into effect on 1 January 2021.

Please note, it remains the case that horses must run at least three times to qualify for more valuable handicaps (Total Race Value of £45,000 or more).

2-y-o Novice and Maiden programme

From the beginning of the next flat season, changes will be made to the 2-y-o Novice and Maiden programme, which will see 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 2-y-o Auction or Median Auction races, but instead five classes of Novice or Maiden race as shown in the table below:

Class Category Auction value Median auction value Races
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

The exact value thresholds for the Restricted Race Bands will be finalised in early December, following a review of the autumn sales. However, using the values in the table as an example, the race conditions for a Band C Restricted Novice or Maiden race would be as follows:

Open to 2-y-o 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.

0-50 Classified races

As agreed by the industry’s Racing Group, efforts have been made this year to create a more clearly defined programme at the bottom end for flat horses. This saw the removal of Class 7 handicaps and the introduction of a programme of 0-50 Classified races, targeted at times of the year when they could be included in the programme.

Despite greater than normal pressure on the number of races due to the Covid-19 situation, there have been 62 such races to date, which feature an elimination sequence designed to favour the less experienced horse.

As we now move into the busy autumn period, these races will no longer feature, and the lowest rated races will be 46-55 handicaps, which are likely to see lower rated horses eliminated more frequently. The 0-50 races will return in January and continue into February and March, as demand for opportunities at higher levels begins to subside.

Sire and Dam restricted races

Following discussion at the latest industry Racing Group, the number of Sire and Dam restricted races has been reduced from 15 to 8. Whilst these are still seen as important opportunities for the staying horse, it was felt, on balance, that increasing the number of opportunities open to all was also a key consideration.

Amateur programme

Due to the COVID-19 situation, it has not been possible to programme the number of Amateur Races that would normally be seen in the autumn programme. The BHA Racing Department continues to work with racecourses and the AJA to improve this programme.

Race planning forum

Trainers can feedback any questions about the race programme, or requests for additional opportunities for their horses, via the industry’s Race Planning Forum on Racing Admin. Trainers looking for suitable races are encouraged to use the Forum, and the BHA Racing Team will look into available options.

2020 Flat Pattern Programme

This year’s Flat Pattern and Listed race programme will now return to the original schedule for 2020. We do not envisage any significant alterations to this schedule, but will update participants accordingly and in a timely manner should plans need to be adjusted. The full race programme for 2020 is available to view on Racing Admin.

Raceday protocols – reminders

Thank you for continuing to follow racing’s ‘behind closed doors’ protocols, which remain essential for keeping everyone safe on the racecourse and helping to minimise the risk of transmitting the virus.

In general, we ask that all racecourse attendees continue to adhere to the three steps set out by Dr Jerry Hill:

  1. Follow all the social distancing requirements, whether in the ‘green zone’ for participants or the owners’ area
  2. Do not cross from one zone to another – this could lead to more people, including participants, being quarantined if there is a positive COVID-19 case
  3. Inform the BHA’s Medical Department if you test positive for COVID-19. The team can offer advice for employers and liaise more effectively with public health authorities.

In addition, the following more specific points around raceday procedures have been highlighted as recurring issues in recent weeks:

  • Equipment for each individual horse must be bagged separately and cleaned and disinfected prior to arrival at the course. All bags must be clearly labelled with the name of the trainer, the horse, and the race number and time.
  • Yards are encouraged to conduct their own temperature screening of staff prior to departure for the racecourse. This will reduce the likelihood of staff failing the on-course screening and horseboxes being refused entry to the racecourse.
  • Drivers (for trainers and jockeys) are granted limited access to the racecourse but must remain with their vehicle, or within the area designated by the racecourse, for the duration of the day – unless they need to access essential facilities. Drivers will be given a different coloured wristband on arrival at the racecourse, to signify that they will not be accessing the infection control zone.
  • Stable Passes are required for entry into the stable area. While a photo ID is sufficient for entry through the racecourse screening checkpoint, all those entering the stable area are still required to produce a Stable Pass if requested.

As ever, participants with specific queries about racing behind closed doors can contact the BHA Helpdesk:

Please note, calls to this number may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes