The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced a host of calendar alterations including a new Grade One hurdle as part of their plan to increase competition in jump racing.
Next season’s calendar has undergone something of an overhaul, with over 25 changes made including the removal of a string of Grade Two races, a new Grade One hurdle and several other tweaks to various prestigious races.
Arguably the most notable is the relocation of the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown, won in recent years by the likes of star Champion Hurdler Constitution Hill.
That race will now be run on an already packed Boxing Day schedule, on a new card set to take place at Aintree Racecourse.
The BHA’s Jump Pattern Committee included Champion trainer Paul Nicholls as well as Amy Murphy and Emma Lavelle.
Of the other changes, the Grade Two International Hurdle at Cheltenham being moved from December to Festival Trials Day in late January is particularly notable, as well as the Grade Two Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton altered to become a Limited Handicap.
The Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle (Ascot), Leamington Novices’ Hurdle (Warwick), Champion Hurdle Trial (Haydock), Dipper Novices’ Chase (Cheltenham), Future Champion Novices’ Chase (Ayr) and John Francome Novices’ Chase (Newbury) are among the Grade Two races to be removed from the calendar.
The Grade One hurdle set to be introduced will take place after the Cheltenham Festival, with Aintree or Sandown looking like the most obvious candidates to host that race.
Paul Nicholls, soon to be 14-time British Champion Trainer when crowned on Saturday said: “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.”
BHA director of international racing and racing development, Ruth Quinn, added: “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 producing a race programme that is consistently more engaging to bettors, fans and the media.”
The full list of changes can be found on the BHA website here.
Source : https://www.skysports.com/racing/news/12040/12866927/bha-calendar-changes-new-grade-one-hurdle-announced-tolworth-hurdle-moved-grade-twos-cut-in-host-of-changes?rand=3094