Middle-rank jumpers to be given increased opportunities in Ireland
Horse Racing Ireland has announced measures to cater for lower- to medium-tier horses during October, November and December as entries and field sizes for jumps races in Ireland continue to rise.
A total of 380 races have been scheduled, with each fixture having one race worth at least €15,000 and most cards containing a feature event worth at least €20,000.
HRI director of racing Jason Morris said: "It has been pleasing to see the upturn in jump racing so far this year. To the end of August, the average entry in jump races has increased from 21.9 to 23.0, while the average field size has risen from 11.2 to 11.7 runners per race."
He added: "The measures are designed to provide more competitive options for middle to lower tier horses and to ease their progression through the system.
"They form an important part of a balanced race programme within which HRI has always placed an emphasis on quality, ensuring that at least ten per cent of races under both codes offer black type."
The enhancements to the existing programme will include a Tattersalls Ireland/EBF Auction Maiden Series, which encompasses six restricted maiden hurdles during the period, worth €20,000 each.
The hurdles are for four-, five-, six- and seven-year-old geldings and mares who have been sold for €30,000 or less as a three or four-year-old in a recognised store sale in Ireland or Britain, and who have not won any race under rules or a point-to-point.
The first in the series takes place on September 11 at the Listowel harvest festival, with other races at Gowran Park, Cork, Galway, Punchestown and Navan. This auction series is the first of its kind in Irish jump racing.
There will also be a further four maiden hurdles, which are restricted to horses who have run three times without having been placed in the first three.
Mares-only races have been increased by five per cent compared to the corresponding period last year, bringing the total number of races to 42.