new midweek programmes at Fairyhouse, Leopardstown and Punchestown
opportunities for lower to medium tier horses
number of beginners/novice chases/hurdles with rating caps
of auction maiden hurdles and restricted
maiden hurdles for unplaced horses
Weatherbys Ireland/ITBA Bonus
payments available in some mares only handicap hurdles
The updated National Hunt Provisional
Summary, released by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) today, sees a continuation of many
of the new race types successfully trialled through the summer and early part
of the winter National Hunt season, providing additional opportunities for
lower to medium tier horses.
The new programme covers the period from
January 1 to April 28 2018, and has a total of 441 races scheduled, including
three new midweek programmes at Punchestown (January), Fairyhouse (February)
and Leopardstown (March).
49 of the 62 fixtures (79%) have a feature
race worth at least €20,000, while the remaining 13 fixtures will have one race
worth at least €15,000.
The enhancements to the existing programme include:
- Continuation of the auction maiden
trial which encompassed six restricted maiden hurdles during the first
part of the winter period, worth €20,000 per race. These maiden hurdles
are for geldings/mares that have been sold for €30,000 or less as a three
or four-year-old in a recognised store sale in Ireland or the UK, and which
have not won any race under rules or a point-to-point. There will be two
further such maiden hurdles at Leopardstown and Naas in this period.
- A further four maiden hurdles restricted
to horses that have run three times without having been placed in the
first three. These restricted maiden hurdles were first introduced over
the summer months providing horses with the opportunity to be competitive
in Weight-For-Age company before progressing into handicaps.
- An increase in the number of Beginners and Novice
Chases with a rating band restriction (limiting entry to horses with a
hurdle or chase rating below a certain level which can vary from 102 to
130), so that they now comprise 33% (up from 25%) of the overall
non-Graded opportunities in this category as with the remainder of the
year. Most weeks will see at least one such race programmed in order to
provide more opportunities for middle to lower tier horses to compete over
fences in their own grade.
- Additional opportunities for riders who
have yet to reach the 10-winner mark for the season.
- The Weatherbys Ireland/ITBA Mares
National Hunt Bonus Scheme has been expanded to include a number of
middle/lower tier handicap hurdle opportunities for mares, which have not
previously won a hurdle bonus payment in a maiden hurdle, in which they
can avail of the €5,000 bonus.
Commenting on these initiatives, Jason Morris, Director of Racing,
“It has been pleasing to see the improved competitiveness of National Hunt
racing so far this year. Comparing the period from the start of the year to
November 21 for 2016 and 2017, the average entry in National Hunt races has
increased from 21.5 to 22.1, while the average field size has risen from 11.2
to 11.5 runners. The period through to the Spring of 2018 will see the continuation
of a series of race planning initiatives which were successfully introduced
over the summer months. These measures and the addition of three new midweek
cards will provide more competitive options for the middle to lower tiers of
the horse population, as well as easing horses’ progression through the system.
HRI will also continue to provide a balanced race programme with an emphasis on
quality, ensuring that at least 10% of National Hunt races offer Black Type in
CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO FULL NH PROVISIONAL SUMMARY