British Jump Racing To Break Until July

NTF president Emma Lavelle says immediate focus should be on Flat racing | Racing Post

Following Wednesday's announcement by Horse Racing Ireland that the Irish National Hunt season has been ended prematurely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has now announced that jump racing in Britain will break until July 1. The move has been instigated following a proposal put forward by the National Trainers Federation (NTF) in order to provide clarity to trainers and owners in the jumping sector.

The 2019/20 National Hunt season would normally have ended at Sandown on April 25, but that meeting has been lost during the current temporary shutdown, along with Aintree's flagship Grand National meeting, which was set to start on Thursday.

The BHA has assembled a Resumption of Racing Group of key stake holders which is currently making plans for the sport to get underway again, possibly from May 1. If indeed racing is able to resume on that date, it will take place behind closed doors initially with a limited number of Flat fixtures.

“The decision to lose jump racing until July was not one which was taken lightly and we are very conscious of the impact this will have on many across our sport,” said the BHA's chief operating officer Richard Wayman.

“We are working closely with the horsemen, racecourses and Levy Board to ensure the sport is ready for a resumption of racing at the earliest possible opportunity. Our planning is progressing well, and it is important that we keep everybody informed as it develops to help them with their own decision-making.”

He continued, “The plan involves a phased return of racing, as well increasing the jump programme in late summer and early autumn. With that in mind, we wanted to ensure that those who own or train jumps horses have a clear a picture of how we are planning to proceed in the coming months.

“Additionally, we were keen to minimise the risk of any unnecessary expenditure by confirming that there will be no jump racing before 1 July. This will allow horses to have breaks away from training yards if owners wish them to.”

National Hunt trainer Emma Lavelle, who is also president of the NTF, added, “Having canvassed the opinion of jump trainers, we felt a break in jump racing until 1 July would bring clarity for owners, trainers and staff, and allow the immediate focus to be on Flat racing, which is already losing a major part of its core season.

“There was a willingness to engage in constructive conversation amongst the BHA and other stake holders and flexibility to produce a programme that will give plenty of opportunities to the summer jump population later in the year.”

With 141 wins to his name this season, Brian Hughes will be crowned champion National Hunt jockey for the first time, taking the title from Richard Hughes, who finished in second place in the table. Nicky Henderson is the champion trainer for the sixth time, with his stable having earned prize-money of £2,533,863, a little over £200,000 more than defending champion Paul Nicholls. JP McManus, with whom Henderson teamed up to win the Champion Hurdle with Epatante (Fr), is the leading National Hunt owner for the season.

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