Published 2021/01/25


The rise in covid-19 cases across the UK, especially given the presence of new strains, is putting some strain on the authorities, and as well on all activities.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is no less affected and is forced to make some serious changes in order to keep giving us a full programme of racing.

As the government fights to contain the virus and rapid spread, there is work for everyone to commit to, and the BHA is starting early with some new rules going forward.

The new rules were a joint effort by the BHA’s covid-19 group which includes representatives for horsemen and the racecourses as well. The new rules and rapid changes rolling out should affect presence in the stands but should not take anything away from horse racing betting, which is now mostly an online world.

Amateur riders

Beginning Saturday the 16th of January, amateur riders will not be permitted to participate in races until further notice. Only professional riders from now on, with necessary modifications to be made for already planned races. This must be heartwrenching for amateurs and lovers of the grassroots sports, but this directive falls in line with the government restriction and definition of elite sport in the present predicament.

Hunter chases

Hunter chases will also only be allowed to professional riders, including conditional riders as well. Related race conditions will be modified, with weight being another matter to be considered for the horses.

Two-year-old novice and maiden programme

Another area of change, the new rules may actually benefit the horses and give them more of an opportunity to make it big. Restricted races will be merged into a single race type, meaning more races and opportunities for the horses, and the horses will be allowed to qualify through their auction value, with a median value to be used in the event where the horse has no value.

Class       Category                 Auction value           Median auction value                    Races

4+                Open                           N/A                              N/A                                           565

4+               Band A Restricted      £50,001-£80,000           <£60,000                                     35

5                  Band B Restricted      £30,001-£50,000           <£40,000                                     65

5                  Band C Restricted      £15,001-£30,000           <£25,000                                   150

6                  Band D Restricted             £1- £15,000           <£12,500                                     75

The restricted race bands are, however, considered finalised after review of the autumn sales and horses in this category will see some new rules coming their way, which may actually be a boon to them.

Open to two-year-old Novice horses which:

Sold at auction for no more than £30,000 Or, if they were not sold at auction, whose sire has a median price of no more than £25,000

Another great change will be the weight allowance rule for horses that are running in restricted races.

This will concern mostly horses running in the Band A-D Restricted races, with a 2lb allowance conceded for each race the horse participates in above the Band it qualified for.