The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Flat Pattern Committee (FPC) have announced the introduction of minimum rating criteria for all Group 1 races other than those restricted to two-year-olds.
From 2018 onwards no horse will be permitted to run in a non-two-year-old Group 1 race unless it has achieved an official rating of at least 80 by the day before the confirmation stage of the race, or in the absence of an official rating that their racecourse performance(s) have been assessed by the handicapper as being 80 or more.
In addition, the Jump Pattern Committee (JPC) has confirmed its support for extending the existing practice which is already in place at Cheltenham and Aintree for the 2017-18 season, such that a minimum rating of 130 should now apply to all non-Novice Grade 1 Steeple Chases and Hurdle races, and a minimum of 120 for Grade 1 Novice Steeple Chases. The proposal does not extend to Grade 1 Novice Hurdles, which can often attract talented but unexposed youngsters.
These decisions follow an application having been made by the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) earlier in 2017. This application had already been tabled for consideration by the FPC prior to the issues surrounding the entry of Diore Lia in the 2017 Investec Derby, which further focused the need to implement a solution to this issue.
Dale Gibson, Executive Director for the PJA, said: “The PJA are fully supportive of the BHA announcement to implement a minimum rating to all Group and Grade 1 races in 2018. The move, initially proposed by the PJA, followed widespread consultation and agreement between senior Jockeys under both codes.
“The overriding welfare and safety of both horse and Jockey is of paramount importance to everyone concerned. Horses asked to race way out of their comfort zone in any major race present unique issues to other participants and rivals, not just in the shape of how the race is run but also increasing the potential for interference and possible incidents.
“Other major racing jurisdictions have similar restrictions; we totally support the agreements that have been reached in making this decision.”
The minimum rating requirement also includes the 2018 Derby. All owners with an existing entry in the race have been written to and informed of the change in the race conditions.
Andrew Cooper, Head of Racing for Jockey Club Racecourses’ London Region, said: “We welcome this move by the BHA to introduce minimum performance criteria for Group 1 races, above the two-year-old age group. We wholly support this principle, and that the BHA Handicapper can still accommodate those horses that have not yet qualified for a rating. Clearly this new initiative will potentially impact the Investec Derby more than most Group 1s, and it can only serve to consolidate its quality and status as our premier Classic.”