National Hunt Provisional Summary Released for January to April 2018


Monday, November 27, 2017
NH Stock Pic

Photo: Patrick McCann


Three new midweek programmes at Fairyhouse, Leopardstown and Punchestown

Increased opportunities for lower to medium tier horses 

Increased number of beginners/novice chases/hurdles with rating caps

Continuation 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, said:
 
“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 Ireland.”

CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO FULL NH PROVISIONAL SUMMARY

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. 

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