BHA maintains open mind as first optional claiming handicap attracts six runners
The BHA will keep an open mind after the first race in a trial of ten optional claiming handicaps – a £30,000 race at Yarmouth on Wednesday night (7.15) – attracted just six runners, with only the connections of David O’Meara-trained Saryshagann electing to ‘buy’ a rating.
The series is pitched at four-year-olds and upwards racing from marks in the 80s and 90s who are struggling to win off their rating.
Each race has a prize fund of £30,000 and allows trainers to buy a handicap rating up to 7lb lower than currently published if they make that horse available to be claimed for a pre-determined price that is in line with the allowance chosen.
Richard Wayman, BHA chief operating officer, said: “It’s very early days in terms of this initial trial of races and we obviously wouldn’t draw any wider conclusions after just one race, particularly at a time when firmer conditions are having an effect on field sizes more generally.
“The trial comprises ten races and we’ll take a view on the popularity of these races once we get to the end of those.”
“Of course, you are vulnerable to a claim, but if your horse’s handicap mark is too high it offers the chance to get its head back in front for a decent pot.
“There is another optional claiming handicap at Pontefract on Friday in which we could be represented. From our perspective they’re a great idea.”
The trial run concludes at Doncaster on October 27. The ten races are from six furlongs to a mile and are spread around Britain.
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