BHA Development Fund to support new Jumps initiatives for novices

Further to its recent announcement regarding 2018 Development Fund expenditure, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on Thursday confirmed a new series of races for novice hurdlers beginning on 9 December as well as a championship final for novice chasers.

Both initiatives will result in £100,000 handicaps staged at the key end of season meetings at Sandown and Ayr in 2018 and are being supported by the BHA’s Development Fund.

Novices’ Championship Hurdle series

The handicap hurdle series for novices will incorporate 36 qualifiers, one at each course racing between the launch of the series on 9 December 2017 and the £100,000 final at Sandown on 28 April 2018.

All races in the series will be run over two miles and it has been created to provide end of season targets in the early stage of a horse's career over hurdles, something that will not only be of benefit to Jump bred horses but will also increase the appeal of transferring from the Flat.

In order to qualify for the final, horses must have finished in the first eight in at least one qualifier.

The qualifiers will also include a small number of juvenile hurdles and mares’ races, although both of these sections of the horse population are eligible to run in the other qualifiers.

A full list of the qualifiers will be listed on the BHA’s racing admin site in due course.

Novices’ Championship Chase final

The £100,000 final for novice chasers will take place at Ayr on 21 April 2018, which will also provide an additional boost to Jump racing in the region through the provision of a high value, end of season target.

The final has been created to support the recent changes resulting from the novices’ chase review, and will be an open novices’ handicap steeple chase.

In order to qualify for the chase final, horses must have finished in the first eight in at least one weight-for-age novices’ or beginners’ chase during the 2017/18 Season.

Paul Johnson, Head of Racing at the BHA, said: “The BHA Development Fund is there to support longer-term strategic initiatives to enhance the breed, and we are delighted to announce funding for these two series as part of the increased expenditure for 2018.

“Encouraging more horses from the Flat to go novice hurdling and ensuring our novice chase programme remains competitive are two areas we are keen to focus on following feedback from the Jump racing and novices’ chase reviews.

“We intend for the initiatives announced today to have a positive impact in both those areas, and will monitor the data from them closely going forward.”