The Jump Pattern Committee of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced the latest package of changes to the 2023/24 Pattern and Listed Jump programme.
According to the authority, the additions to the guidebook will strengthen the upper tier of British Jump racing by providing an in-depth review in accordance with the recommendations listed by the Quality Jump Racing Review Group.
The changes will reshuffle some of the races across the 2023/24 Jump Pattern and Listed season, with some of the events being completely removed from the calendar. This is to ensure that the Graded and Pattern contests are given more adequate spacing between each one, and that stronger competition is incentivized more regularly throughout the season.
Ruth Quinn, BHA Director of International Racing and Racing Development, said: “The Jump Pattern programme in Britain has undergone an in-depth review, focusing on how we best support and improve the performance of Jump racing at the top end of the pyramid, both in the short and longer-term.
“The Jump Pattern Committee has worked closely with racecourses, especially the Jockey Club – which stages most of our Jump Pattern races – to identify ways to see our best horses more regularly running against each other, but also strengthen our important developmental races, which help propel our horses towards the height of their ability.
“Working to these guiding principles, we have developed a package of changes, with races repositioned within a slimmed-down 2023/24 programme. The aim is to ensure our top contests are spaced more appropriately and consistently throughout the season – and hopefully deliver more competitive, meaningful and engaging racing as a consequence.
“Increased funding, investment and prize money remains an important aim in terms of how we continually strengthen our higher profile contests, but these structural changes to the programme are a significant step in ensuring that our horses can maximise their prospects of succeeding at the highest level, as well as producing a race programme that is consistently more engaging to bettors, fans and the media.”
Some of the alterations in the hurdle division arrangements include the relocation of the Grade 1 Tolworth from Sandown Park to Aintree’s new Boxing Day fixture, and the Grade 2 International held at Cheltenham to take place on Festival Trials Day in late January instead of the previous early December calendar date.
Changes to the chase programme on the other hand include the Grade 2 Desert Orchid at Kempton Park becoming a Grade 2 Limited handicap, which the BHA argues would make the race more competitive by accordingly spacing out the weight-for-age, two-mile chase programme.
Richard Norris, Racing Director at The Jockey Club, commented: “With the majority of Britain’s Jump Pattern races being run at our venues, we have welcomed the opportunity to play a leading role in this in-depth review.
“We hope that the changes will be met with approval from all stakeholders and will play a large part in making the upper tiers of British Jump racing stronger and more competitive throughout the season.
“Despite the majority of the changes affecting races at our tracks we are happy to support a ‘less is more’ approach, and hope this slimmed-down programme, with some races repositioned, will prove beneficial for all concerned.”
The next stage of the Jump Pattern Committee’s work will include focusing on long-term investment opportunities in the top end of the sport as part of the British horseracing industry strategy to ensure the retention of higher rated horses in Britain through corresponding prize money levels.
Paul Nicholls, 14-time winner of the Champion Jump Trainer award, added: “The changes to the timings and venues of certain races are all sensible and will help trainers better campaign their good horses. Increased competition and more prize money at the top end can only be a good thing for the sport.”
All of the details around the Jump Pattern and Listed race programme, together with its highlighted planned changes, can be viewed here.