The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), together with Cheltenham and Aintree, has today confirmed changes to the race conditions for the St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase at The Festival™ and the Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase at the Randox Grand National Festival for 2021.
This is to take account of the loss of qualification opportunities due to the cancellation of Point-to-Point racing in line with government guidance on grassroots sport.
Full race conditions for both races will be available via the Racing Admin site, www2.racingadmin.co.uk, shortly.
St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ ChaseRace conditions have up to now required horses to have either finished in the first two in a hunters’ steeple chase on two occasions or won two open point-to-point races, or one of each, within the previous two-and-a-half years.
A condition has been added for this year only to allow horses who finish in the first four on two occasions in a hunters’ steeple chase between 20 January – 1 March 2021 to qualify. Horses who are already fully qualified do not need to re-qualify with the additional conditions. If a horse has had one run which qualifies, only one further run which qualifies is required.
Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase
Race conditions have up to now required horses to have in the previous two and a half years either:
- Finished in the first three in a hunters’ steeple chase on two occasions; or
- Finished in the first three in a hunters’ steeple chase on one occasion and won either another steeple chase (hunter’s steeple chases included) or an open point-point race during the current point-to-point season
A condition has been added for this year only to allow horses who finish in the first four on two occasions in a hunters’ steeple chase between 20 January – 22 March 2021 to qualify.
Horses who are already fully qualified do not need to re-qualify with the additional conditions. If a horse has had one run which qualifies, only one further run which qualifies is required.
A decision regarding the participation of amateur riders in these races will be made nearer to the time in line with government guidance at that point.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today confirmed a number of changes to the upcoming race programme, driven in part by the rise in COVID-19 infections across the UK and the ongoing government restrictions to try and contain the spread of the virus.
These decisions have been taken by the racing industry’s COVID-19 group which includes representatives from racecourses and horsemen.
Amateur riders will not be permitted to take part in races under the Rules from this Saturday, 16 January, onwards. This is in line with government restrictions around the definition of elite sport and the associated suspension of grassroots sport. Existing races will have their conditions changed to allow for professional riders only until further notice.
Hunter chases will continue to be programmed but, in line with the restrictions outlined above will be open to professional riders only. This includes conditional riders.
With such a critical Covid-19 situation across the whole of the UK at present, strict compliance of government regulations is required in order for racing to continue. Regrettably, the title of “amateur” prohibits all amateur jockey participation.
The BHA and British racecourses working together from the start of the pandemic have enabled racing’s continuation due to their expertise and under strict covid protocols. We are very grateful to the BHA for their support in enabling experienced National Hunt amateurs to participate until now. It should be noted that no other amateur sports have been allowed during this current lockdown except for Olympic sports.
The preservation of Hunter Chases is good news in these challenging times, being an important part of the amateur National Hunt calendar. With the current cessation of point-to-pointing this is extremely beneficial with such a large number of racehorses currently at a standstill.
We all look forward to the lifting of lockdown and returning to normality as soon as possible.
Please note the following confirmation from the BHA regarding amateur Flat All-Weather fixtures programmed for Southwell (19th) and Lingfield (29th):
“Following the latest government guidance around the continuation of elite sport during lockdown, it has been necessary to amend the conditions of race number 60285 THE HEED YOUR HUNCH AT BETWAY HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 6) at Southwell on 19 January and 60434 THE PLAY 4 TO SCORE AT BETWAY HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 6) at Lingfield on 29 January.
“Government guidance only permits elite professional sport under these conditions, so these races will revert to professional jockeys only.
“Further announcements regarding future Flat Amateur Jockeys’ races will be made once the restrictions have been reviewed by government in due course.”
Following the government’s announcement on Monday evening 4th January that we are now in a third National Lockdown with immediate effect from then, here is a reminder of the restrictions previously applied to “elite” sports in earlier lockdowns of 2020.
Racing will continue behind closed doors in England with no spectators and owners subjected to the same restriction as November, which limited attendance to a maximum of 45 on the racecourse at any point. All those attending racing behind closed doors, including participants, are asked to note the government’s latest statements about the risks of virus transmission and ensure they continue to following racing’s protocols.
For amateur jockeys this means:
FLAT RACES: No amateur Flat race is possible during a national lockdown. Unfortunately at this time there is no way around this and therefore amateur races scheduled to take place on the All-Weather cannot go ahead for the time being whilst we are under lockdown.
- Some specific NH bumpers cater for conditional jockeys alongside Category A and B amateur jockeys;
- Special provision has been made for Category A amateur jockeys to be allowed to ride against professionals in specific pro/am NH races providing that they have completed in 10 rides under rules or in point-to-points (or a combination of the two);
- For Category A amateurs without sufficient rides on their record to race ride present, they can ride in the Hands and Heels Series as well as some specific bumpers (see above);
- The BHA are currently working with all parties concerned to see a way forward for the programming of Hunter Chases this season. This is despite the cessation of point-to-points as from earlier this week until at least mid-February. A further update will be issued as soon as possible with the Hunter Chase season now imminent.
Your patience and understanding is very much appreciated during these extremely challenging times and huge thanks must go to all those involved with Race Planning at the BHA who are doing their best for us as well as all those who support amateur jockeys at so many racecourses throughout the UK.
The BHA and racecourses will continue to liaise with Government, Public Health England and local Safety Advisory Groups for the well being of us all.