Category: Jockey News
With the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown announced on Monday including that grass roots sport cannot return until 29th March, the resumption of outdoor grassroots sports for children and adults from the end of March is earlier than many expected. The date dovetails with the return of point-to-points in England which has been announced by the Point-To-Point Authority.
The one big caveat is the three-week gap following the full reopening of schools. The Government will carefully monitor the impact of each stage of its roadmap on Covid-19 transmission rates and will be watching for any significant increases in infections during March.
The BHA would welcome seeing amateur jockeys able to ride again and are currently working with The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, as they have throughout the pandemic, to ensure that this happens as soon as possible.
The Racing Post have reported on the Government’s update on grassroots sports restrictions which are set to last until at least 29th March, resulting in the loss of rides at Cheltenham Festival for all jockeys holding an amateur licence.
As reported by Peter Scargil and Mark Boylan:
Amateur jockeys will not be permitted to ride at this season’s Cheltenham Festival due to the UK government’s restrictions on grassroots sport lasting until March 29. Amateur riders are traditionally part of the fabric of the Cheltenham Festival with three races – the National Hunt Chase, Kim Muir Handicap Chase, and the St James’s Place Hunters’ Chase – reserved solely for them, and the leading amateurs also compete with professionals in the meeting’s other races.
However, amateur and grassroots sports have been suspended in Britain since lockdown began on January 4 and a resumption is earmarked for March 29. As such, the decision is understood to have been taken by the BHA to not allow amateur jockeys to compete at Cheltenham, an elite sports event, this year. It is unclear whether any suspension of amateur riders competing beyond March 29 will be in place, with contests such as the Foxhunters’ Chase at the Grand National meeting reserved for amateurs in normal circumstances.
Ten-time Cheltenham Festival-winning rider Jamie Codd was philosophical about the exclusion, while stating he has no intention to turn professional in order to ride at the meeting. Had Codd been allowed to participate, of the riders on duty only Richard Johnson, Nico de Boinville and Paul Townend would have ridden more festival winners than him. Instead, he is now hoping the ban will be lifted in time for the Foxhunters’ Chase at Aintree.
“It’s hugely disappointing for the amateurs in the UK and for us qualified riders in Ireland not to be there, but this is a government decision in very difficult circumstances and there was very little we could do,” Codd said. “I was preparing myself for this. I thought we might be in trouble, and I won’t be turning professional but I will be cheering on all the Irish horses from home. There is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel that we might be back for Aintree, so that would be something to look forward to.”
Record-breaking point-to-point rider Derek O’Connor echoed Codd’s hopes for an Aintree return, adding that the absence of amateurs would be felt greatest in the Hunters’ Chase.
Given how important a race like the Hunters’ Chase is to the grassroots network of people in racing, it’s a big loss that amateurs won’t be allowed to ride in it,” he said. “We’re just hopeful we’ll get back in time for Aintree when things should be a little more straightforward.”
Elements of the amateur season have already been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic with point-to-points in Britain and Ireland halted as part of the ban on non-elite sports. The UK Point-To-Point Authority confirmed on Tuesday that its meetings would return on March 29, provided the government is in a position to lift the restrictions on non-elite sport.
In Ireland, a return date for point-to-points is still uncertain, with the lockdown in the country remaining until at least April 5, according to Taoiseach Micheal Martin.
Photo credit: Patrick McCann
An update for amateur jockeys whilst lockdown continues as required under Covid-19 restrictions laid down by government:
Following the latest government guidance around the continuation of elite sport during lockdown, it has been necessary to amend the conditions of race number 60462 THE BETWAY HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 4) at Wolverhampton on 1 February, 60615 THE BOMBARDIER BRITISH HOPPED AMBER BEER HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 6) at Southwell on 12 February, and 60636 THE BOMBARDIER BRITISH-HOPPED AMBER BEER HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 6) at Wolverhampton on 13 February.
Government guidance only permits elite professional sport under these conditions and as a consequence 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.
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.
Another covid update for all amateur jump jockeys to note please (with Scotland moving into COVID LEVEL 4 after Boxing Day):
Following the Government’s announcement over the weekend regarding the addition of Tier 4 and possible further tightening of restrictions, the following Amateur rider races will now be open to Conditional and Amateur Jockeys:
29th December at KELSO: The Amateur Jockeys Association Handicap Steeple Chase (Class 4)
4th January at FAKENHAM: The visittheattheraces.com Handicap Steeple Chase (Class 5)
The BHA issued the following statement on Saturday evening following the Government’s introduction of Tier 4:
“A government officer has confirmed to the BHA tonight that Tier 4 is equivalent to the restrictions that applied to elite sports in the second national lockdown in November. Racing will continue behind closed doors in Tier 4 in England with no spectators and owners subjected to the same restriction as November, which limit attendance to a maximum of 45 on the course at any point.”Owners attending must comply with the BHA’s protocols as well as national guidance, and satisfy themselves that their travel to, and attendance at, race meetings is legimately linked to their business involvement in British racing. Each individual racecourse will provide information specific to their events which owners are asked to check before attending.”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 follow racing’s protocols.”The BHA and racecourses will continue to liaise with Government, Public Health Ebgland and local Safety Advisory Groups and keep the situation under review. We will share any further relevant details as and when we have them.”
AMATEUR JOCKEYS: PLEASE NOTE: Unfortunately, in line with government advice on “elite sport” only being allowed in the newly introduced Tier 4 areas, the amateur race programmed on the All Weather at Kempton on 6th January will not now be permitted. An update on the next race in Tier 4 due to take place at Lingfield on 29th January will be posted as soon as possible, following the review of the tier system in early January.
Please check out our Flat and Jump amateur races for January to April 2021 now published by the BHA as shown in our RACES section; Hunterchases and bumpers to be added shortly.