BHA to accept entries for horses above ratings band
The BHA has announced a change to entry criteria for handicaps that will enable horses rated 1lb or 2lb higher than the ratings band to be entered in the vast majority of handicaps at Class 3 and below.
The change takes effect from December 12, the aim being to provide increased flexibility for owners and trainers.
Horses entered in such a manner will be the first eliminated from oversubscribed races, with those 1lb above the rating range being favoured over those 2lb above. Horses declared from above the range will carry 1lb or 2lb above the maximum weight, as opposed to shifting the weight range down.
There will be a small number of races exempt from the change, such as consolation races, Class 3 open novice handicap chases and any historically significant races with special conditions, such as the Carlisle Bell.
BHA chief operating officer Richard Wayman said: "This is an important change to handicap race conditions as it will help those horses who can be more difficult to place because they are rated just above the commonly used rating bands.
"As well as providing those horses with additional opportunities, a further benefit is that races that have not filled can be boosted by the inclusion of slightly higher-rated runners, which will support field sizes and make for more competitive racing."
The National Trainers Federation and Professional Jockeys Association are on board, and NTF president Seamus Mullins said: "This initiative will give trainers more flexibility to place horses who fall just above a particular ratings band while not prejudicing horses at the lower end of the handicap from running. We're thankful to the BHA for this change."
PJA executive director Dale Gibson added: "The PJA strongly supports this initiative as it will give connections an additional opportunity to run when other options may be thin on the ground. Any proposal that allows more horses to get on to the racecourse without impacting on the quality of the programme is most welcome and must be applauded."