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Novice races boosted as part of BHA trial

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced the trial of a new approach to the Flat Novice and Maiden race programme in the first half of 2016, designed to stimulate field sizes and provide increased opportunities for winning two-year-olds to run more often.

The trial will see the significant majority of Maiden races (circa 90%) converted to Novice contests between the start of the Flat Turf season and the beginning of July when Nursery Handicaps commence.

For Plus 10 horses this means £10,000 bonuses previously applied to two-year-old Maiden races at a Class 2, 3 and 4 level up until 30 June, will transfer to Novice races, and for the first time, Class 5 Fillies Only Novice races will feature £10,000 bonuses up until 30 June.

The trial aims to address a long-held concern that two-year-olds who win in the early part of the season, prior to the introduction of Nursery Handicaps, have very few opportunities to assist them along the path of development after an initial early season success. Those opportunities that do currently exist tend to attract very small, uncompetitive fields, with an average of 4.83 runners per race over the last two seasons and an average SP for the favourite of 10/11.

It is anticipated early season Novice races will largely be contested by debutants (akin to existing Maiden races), and it is intended the programme will then act as an encouragement for the majority of winners to run again.

As with existing Novice races, winners will be penalised to avoid deterring debutantes or as yet unsuccessful horses from running against previous winners, which they previously would have avoided by being able to compete in Maiden races.

The Plus 10 Committee will monitor the impact the programme amendment has upon the bonus scheme and the number of bonuses an individual horse can win.

To learn more about the change and reasons for the BHA’s decision, click here.

The impact on Plus 10:

The programme amendment will see approximately 77 Plus 10 two-year-old races convert into Novice contests up until 30 June, 2016, joining approximately 12 Novices already programmed for that time of year.

Based upon the 2015 programme, it is expected that of the 89 Novice contests, there will be:

  • 8 x Class 3 Novices (including 1 x Open Median Auction)
  • 53 x Class 4 Novices (incl. 12 x Female only and 1 Female Only Auction; 3 x Open Auction)
  • 28 x Class 5 fillies Only Novices (incl. 3 x Auction; 3 x Median Auction)
Race Type Month
March-June July August September October November December Total
Nov 89 5 2 3 99
Maiden 9 55 67 64 43 12 8 258
Conditions 15 3 7 12 1 2 1 41
Total 113 63 76 79 44 14 9 398