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GINA MANGAN GETS 24 DAY BAN FOR REPEATED WHIP MISUSE

20 January: Gina Mangan has been handed a 24-day ban for multiple breaches of the whip rules following a disciplinary panel hearing.  The 29-year-old-jockey had broken the rules on one ride in every 16 during a six-month period.

The hearing came about after a race at Lingfield when Mangan won on the David Evans-trained Midgetonamission, but she was found to have used her whip 10 times in the final furlong and a half, three more than the permitted level of seven in a Flat race.

Because it was her fifth breach of the whip rules warranting a ban of between two and six days, the raceday stewards referred her to the sport’s independent disciplinary panel.

Presenting the case for the BHA, Lyn Williams, informed the panel that Mangan had 79 rides in the six-month period, which amounted to one breach every 16 rides, but that the actual period of time for the five offences to occur was over five months and 27 days and she had not been previously referred for her use of the whip.

Panel chair, Brian Barker QC, said it was a “shame” that on occasions Mangan seemed to “lose her head slightly” when riding.


DUNNE’S “DELIBERATE, UNWARRANTED TARGETING” OF BRYONY FROST – BHA PANEL

6 January: The actions of jockey Robbie Dunne towards fellow rider Bryony Frost have been described as having “dark implications” by the disciplinary panel who banned Dunne for 18 months after arriving at a guilty verdict following a case prosecuted by the BHA.

In their findings the panel said: 

“This was deliberate, unwarranted targeting of a colleague over a considerable time. Mr Dunne’s words, and behaviour, were wholly inappropriate for a professional athlete in an equal opportunity sport and would not be tolerated in any other walk of life or workplace.

“Expletives in the heat of the moment are one thing, but expressions such as “I am going to hurt you” and/or “I’ll put you through a wing” have dark implications. The context of this case moved the effect beyond that of mere words.

“There was little, if any, indication of Mr Dunne’s understanding. There was no expression of remorse. The defence involved calculated attacks in various directions. The plea entered was so limited by comparison to the conduct found that it attracted neither credit nor reduction.

“We took into account matters submitted in mitigation and the evidence of Mr Dunne’s character witness.  We reminded ourselves, in his favour, that some at least of the facts found involved Mr Dunne operating within a culture approbated by his peers.

“Observers observed without intervention. If this is the weighing room culture, then it is out of step in equal opportunity race-riding. We were scrupulous to avoid treating Mr Dunne as the sole individual finding the impugned behaviour acceptable.

“A financial penalty was wholly insufficient to meet the justice of this case. Suspension of licence was inevitable.  The matters proved were consecutive, occurred over six months, as time went by deepening in spitefulness, and consequently the words and acts achieving the increasingly chilling effect upon the victim which Mr Dunne intended.

“As well as falling foul of the regulations as pleaded, such behaviour, from someone who presented himself as one of the elders of the sport, setting standards and allegedly offering wise counsel to junior jockeys was hypocritical.

“The events at Southwell were the gravest.  The proper approach was to fix a cumulative period and to impose it concurrently for each offence.

“Given the context, the entry point in the Guide to Penalties and Procedures did not bear on this case. Whatever the pressures and dangers of racing, and whatever the traditions of the weighing room, Mr Dunne’s conduct had no place in it.

‘The strikingly aggravating feature was the determined consistency, in the knowledge that Ms Frost could not prepare herself for what would come next, as she was unable to predict what or where it would be.

“Mr Dunne’s licence as a jockey will be suspended for 18 months.  However, taking into account some of the personal matters urged, the final three months will be suspended for two months.

“Any transgressions in months 16 to 18 would make it most likely that the three months would be activated. Mr Dunne is suspended from 10 December 2021 until 9 March 2023 inclusive.”

The Panel for the Enquiry was: HH Brian Barker CBE QC, HH James O’Mahony and Alison Royston, and a transcript of the hearing can be found here

http://judicialpanel.britishhorseracing.com/results/result/?id=2190


DAN SKELTON CHARGED WITH CONDUCT BREACH OVER SALE OF HORSE

2 January: Trainer Dan Skelton has been charged by the BHA with a code-of-conduct breach relating to the sale of a horse to a syndicate who made a formal complaint over three years ago in relation to the sale.

The Sunday Times reports today that the case will now go before an independent disciplinary panel where Skelton can explain his role in the sale of a horse called George Gently in October 2016.

The five owners of George Gently, who paid £130,000 for the horse, said they found out 18 months after the sale that Skelton (pictured)  a beneficial interest in the horse which he did not declare when encouraging them to buy it.

Subsequent to the sale, the horse was found to have a serious tendon injury and a year later it was sold for £1,800.

The syndicate then said they had been told by George Gently’s previous owner, Dave Futter, that Skelton had been a one-third owner at the time of the sale.

Skelton denies this and Futter has since denied telling the syndicate that Skelton owned the one-third share.

In the Sunday Times piece by chief sports writer David Walsh, Skelton is reported has having provided the syndicate with an invoice showing that he had received £42,033 from Futter and that this payment had been in lieu of training fees.

As the amount was exactly one third of £130,000 less commissions, the syndicate did not accept Skelton’s explanation. They moved their six horses from his yard, and lodged the formal complaint with the BHA.


ITV TO SHOW THE RACING LEAGUE

1 January: In its second year, the six Racing League Thursday evening fixtures are to be broadcast on ITV4.

Niall Sloane, ITV director of sport, said: “We look forward to working with the team and the participating racecourses across the summer to help widen the appeal of the competition in its second year.”

The Racing League had an average TV audience in its inaugural year of 62,000 on Sky Sports Racing.

Jeremy Wray, chief executive of the Racing League, said: “We are delighted to confirm this broadcast agreement with ITV Racing to bring the Racing League live to terrestrial television, which we see as an excellent next step for the competition.”

The first of the six fixtures takes place at Doncaster on 4 August 4 – a later start than in 2021 – with Newcastle, Windsor, Lingfield and, for the first time, Southwell staging the races for the competition which offers 2m in prize money and other incentives.


LEOPARDSTOWN FORCED TO RACE BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

24 December: Seven Grade 1s take place over four days at Leopardstown starting on Sunday but sadly no spectators will be there to see them after a late decision from the track, writes Danny Scutchings.

A crowd of 5,000 was expected to attend each day but rising Covid cases in Ireland and among the course staff left officials with no choice but to stage the festival behind closed doors.

Industry personnel, owners and Leopardstown members will be allowed to watch but the courses chief executive said today that in the last 24 hours it had become increasingly clear that it would be impossible for anyone else to attend.

At the end of last week the Irish government announced a 5,000 limit or 50% of stadium capacity would be Introduced to all sporting events until 30 January.

Leopardstown were already having to use staff from other courses to combat their outbreak and allow the meeting to go ahead in a scaled back format but unfortunately the decision seems to have been inevitable.

Limerick also has a four-day festival beginning on Sunday and as of now they still expect 5,000 to attend each day and hopefully that will still happen.


FREDDY TYLICKI WINS HIGH COURT CLAIM AGAINST GRAHAM GIBBONS

21 December: Freddy Tylicki has won his claim High Court claim against Graham Gibbons over a fall at Kempton in 2016 that left him paralysed.

Judge Karen Walden-Smith issued her judgement at 2pm, declaring: “The actions of Mr Gibbons were … undertaken in reckless disregard for the safety of Mr Tylicki.”

Tylicki said in a statement issued by his lawyers that he was “delighted”.

“It has taken five years for me and my legal team to overcome the injustice of the stewards’ inquiry which took place at Kempton immediately after the race,” the former jockey said.

“Today’s result has finally provided me with closure and I look forward to putting this all behind me and moving on with my life. I hope though that this judgement acts as a reminder that competing in a dangerous sport like horseracing is no justification for competing with a reckless disregard for the safety of your fellow competitors.”

It has yet to be determined what will have to be paid by way of compensation.


OISIN MURPHY RELINQUISHES JOCKEYS LICENCE WHILST HE SEEKS MEDICAL HELP

17 December: Having been made aware of a possible breach by Oisin Murphy of coronavirus protocols relating to travel in September 2020, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) conducted a detailed investigation.

Following the conclusion of this process, the BHA issued the following alleged charges:

  • Breaches of Rule (J)24.6 of the Rules of Racing for misleading or attempting to mislead the BHA regarding his true location between 9 and 12 September;
  • Breaches of Rules (J)24.4 and (J)24.6 for accessing the racecourse in breach of the COVID-19 Requirements;
  • Breaches of Rule (J)19 for acting in a manner prejudicial to the proper conduct and good reputation of horseracing.

A hearing in front of an independent Disciplinary Panel to consider these charges was arranged for Friday 10 December.

Prior to the hearing the BHA received submissions from Mr Murphy’s legal team regarding his welfare, which were supported by medical evidence, and stated that Mr Murphy had made a decision to relinquish his Flat Jockeys Licence whilst he engages fully with medical support.

Bearing these submissions in mind, it was agreed with Mr Murphy’s representatives that the proposed hearing would be postponed to take place at a later date, when it is deemed appropriate considering the welfare of Mr Murphy.

These matters will also be heard at the same time as two cases regarding positive tests for alcohol returned from racecourses in 2021 by Mr Murphy, as follows:

  • Breach of Rule (K)55 due to the presence of alcohol in urine sample exceeding permitted threshold at Chester racecourse on 5 May 2021:
  • Breach of Rule (K)55 due to presence of alcohol in breath samples exceeding permitted threshold at Newmarket on 8 October 2021.

Tim Naylor, BHA Director of Integrity and Regulation, said:

“In regulating the sport we must always strike the balance between the importance of upholding the rules, and being mindful of the wellbeing of those who we regulate. The welfare of our participants is an absolute priority.

“Having received detailed submissions from his representatives, which were supported by medical evidence, and being aware of the decision made by Mr Murphy to relinquish his jockeys licence, we agreed that the proposed disciplinary hearing may be postponed for a short period of time.

“The charges will be considered in front of an independent Disciplinary Panel we anticipate in the early part of 2022. We will support his medical team in the meantime.”

Mr Murphy has asked that the following statement be relayed on his behalf:

“On returning from abroad last September in 2020 I failed to follow the Covid protocol set out by the BHA. In breaking these rules, and attempting to mislead the BHA, I’ve let my governing body down, along with trainers, owners, staff, sponsors and family for which I wish to apologise. 

“In addition to this there have been two racecourse incidents linked to alcohol during 2021.  It became obvious to me and to everyone else that I needed to seek serious help. In recognition of this I have relinquished my licence and will now focus on my rehabilitation. I am grateful to the BHA for agreeing to postpone the disciplinary hearing until I have been able to take these steps.

“Whether I deserve it or not, many kind people have stood by me and I really appreciate their support . I’m deeply embarrassed and regret my actions.”

The BHA and Mr Murphy will not make any further comment on this matter, which remains an ongoing disciplinary process, until a hearing date is set.


TOM DASCOMBE TO LEAVE MICHAEL OWENS YARD

16 December: Tom Dascombe is leaving Michael Owen’s Manor House Stables in Cheshire after a 12-year stint. Dascombe was advised of his exit today which he described as a “complete shock”.

Owen posted a statement on his Twitter account, saying: “After more than 12 years as trainer, Tom Dascombe will be leaving Manor House Stables in the new year.

“We have shared many great times and races together and created memories that will last a lifetime.

“I would like to place on record my own personal thanks for all his hard work and support over the years. We part on great terms and everyone at MHS will miss him and wishes him the very best for the future.”

Dascombe’s biggest success came through Brown Panther, who won the Irish St Leger in 2014 and was victorious at Royal Ascot. Other notable horse he trained rh sprinter Kachy and  Angel Alexander who won the Ayr Gold Cup.

Earlier today Dascombe, 48, saddled Skittlebomz to victory in a six-furlong nursery at Southwell  just hours after the his departure became public.

Dascombe said: “I only found out two days ago. I told my family yesterday. I told my staff this morning.

“I have absolutely no plans – I have no idea what I am going to do next, but I will be training next year from somewhere and we will train winners like we have just done there (at Southwell).

“It is as simple as that – life goes on.

“The fact that they don’t want me to be here any more, that’s their choice – it is not mine.”


JOCKEY ROBBIE DUNNE GUILTY OF BULLYING AND HARASSING BRYONY FROST

9 December: Jockey Robbie Dunne has been found in breach of all four charges of conduct prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of racing by a disciplinary panel. These include bullying and harassing Bryony Frost (pictured).

The independent panel has handed out an 18 month ban of which the last three months have been suspended.

Dunne could have faced a ban of up to three years.

The panel found that Dunne’s behaviour towards Frost between 13 February and 3 September 2020, which culminated in him telling her he would “put you through a wing”, was a promise to do harm and amounted to bullying, the most serious of the charges brought against him by the BHA.

Brian Barker QC, the chair of the three-person independent panel, said: “We have real concern the weighing room culture is deep rooted and coercive and is not conducive to the good health and development of race-riding.”

Barker went on to say: “We are unable to accept Mr Dunne’s sweep of denials, criticisms and his reasoning. A man, who in the view of one of his own witnesses was a ‘piss taker’, and who regarded himself as one of the elders of the weighing room and someone who expected his view to be heeded.

“The tenor and type of language that we find was used towards Ms Frost is totally unacceptable, whatever the frustrations about her style and whatever the habits of the weighing room. They fall squarely within the ambit of the prohibition set out in the rule.

“Secondly, in reviewing the evidence given and their approach by jockeys of repute as well as by the valets – who probably find themselves in a difficult position – we have real concern that what was referred to by Mr Weston as the ‘weighing room culture’ is deep-rooted and coercive, and in itself is not conducive to the good health and the development of of modern day race riding.”

“On examination of Ms Frost’s evidence and demeanour,” he said, “we find her to be truthful, careful and compelling. By taking her complaint to the [BHA] she has broken ‘the code’, knowing that isolation and rejection by some was inevitable.”

BHA Statement

After the panel’s verdict, the BHA issued the following statement:

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) welcomes the finding of the independent Disciplinary Panel that jockey Robbie Dunne is in breach of four counts of Rule (J)19 and to impose an 18 month suspension upon him.

In our view this decision, and the comments of the independent Judicial Panel, reflect the seriousness of the accusations. It sends a clear message that conduct of this nature cannot be tolerated in any working environment within our sport.

This case has been a ground-breaking one for British racing, the first of its kind, and it is important that it acts as a catalyst for further change within the industry. 

We understand that, for the vast majority of those who work in the sport – and in particular in the jockeys’ weighing room – it is a positive, supportive, welcoming place. We recognise the pressures on those involved in the sport, and that temperatures will at times be raised.

However, there is a line as to what is acceptable. It is essential that when something does go wrong that people feel that they can call out bad behaviour, and not be made to suffer in silence. The independent Judicial Panel Chair voiced concerns regarding these issues in his judgement. We call on everyone in the industry to recognise this.  

By stepping forward to report the behaviour of which she was on the receiving end, Bryony Frost took a courageous step. We hope that others who may be in similar positions will feel comfortable doing the same.  

Improving workplace standards and wellbeing within the sport is an issue into which racing has invested significant time and resource in recent years. Nothing is more important than our people and our horses. The formation of an industry People Board has helped focus attention on improving standards, education and training. Progress is being made on improving the facilities that our athletes use, in particular our female participants. The sport will soon be putting in place a collaborative, cross-industry Code of Conduct.

However, more can always be done. We must move forward from this case and define the sort of language and conduct that is acceptable in a place of work. This is about more than just the jockeys’ weighing room, but the whole industry. We must take positive steps across the sport to ensure that British racing is a welcoming place to work for everyone. We will issue more detail as to our next steps on this front in the near future. 

This was a difficult, sensitive and complex case, with numerous witnesses. Charges for the case were lodged in April, but subsequent to this there were significant legal representations made by the defence solicitors, which – in order to ensure fairness to all parties – had to be considered in full. The case has been handled with professionalism, and this is reflected in the outcome. 

However, there are also lessons that can, and will, be learned. We will be reviewing the proceedings and speaking to the Chair of the Independent Judicial Panel regarding case management. It is important that we ensure that future cases are managed quickly, in the interests of all parties. 

Finally, we recognise that this has been a difficult period for all involved, in particular for Robbie Dunne and Bryony Frost. We ask that the privacy and wellbeing of both is now respected. It is important that both are now supported by the BHA, their colleagues and their representative body the PJA.

PJA statement

Following the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings heard by the BHA Disciplinary Panel, Robbie Dunne has been found in breach of all charges and has been suspended for 18 months, three months of which are suspended.

Before the PJA responds to the Disciplinary Panel’s findings, we want to make it clear that the PJA has great sympathy with Bryony Frost and takes no issue with the fact that a complaint was taken to the BHA. Whilst the PJA was not involved nor was its support or advice sought before a complaint was taken to the BHA, the PJA has itself taken a separate complaint to the BHA on behalf of another jockey and supported that jockey throughout, so most certainly does not criticise Bryony for doing the same.

Bryony felt bullied, it certainly took courage to go through the process she has and we do not doubt the isolation she has felt. The PJA entirely accepts that Robbie Dunne’s conduct as found by the Disciplinary Panel fell well short of the standard the PJA expects.

All that said, the PJA does not accept the Disciplinary Panel’s findings in relation to the culture within and collective behaviour of the jump jockeys weighing room. It is a grossly inaccurate and wholly unfair representation of the weighing-room and a conclusion we believe is at odds with the evidence presented.

On October 25th of this year, in response to the leak of confidential case papers and the resulting coverage in the media, the PJA stated that in our view a fair hearing was impossible and called for the BHA to bring the matter to a close. Our fears have been realised and we do not believe Robbie Dunne has been subjected to a remotely fair process.

We did not call for the matter to be brought to a close to try and sweep the matter under the carpet. We did so because we were aware of the significant failings of the investigation, one that was woefully inadequate, lacked the necessary independence and allowed outside interference.

We were aware of significant inconsistencies in the evidence. We were aware that the BHA had enhanced the charges that were issued in April shortly before the hearing with no new evidence. We were aware there was a still to be concluded investigation into a serious data breach. Most importantly, the PJA and its Board had for some months lost confidence in the Disciplinary Panel due to a number of serious concerns including the long and striking track record of the Disciplinary Panel’s failure to ever criticise the BHA, its case management and its processes. The BHA and Disciplinary Panel have been aware of those concerns for some time.

Furthermore, the PJA and its members are appalled by the BHA’s characterisation of the weighing room culture as “rancid”, made via their advocate and therefore presumably under instruction. This and the BHA’s conduct throughout this process is incredibly damaging.

The BHA’s stance is made worse by the fact that for years the PJA and its female members have been raising concerns with the BHA about the inadequate facilities for female riders and for years the BHA did nothing. We say it is no coincidence that the BHA has only shown an interest in driving change over the last few months in light of this case.

The PJA does not condone bullying or the use of the type of language the Disciplinary Panel has concluded was used. Bullying and the use of such entirely inappropriate language cannot and will not be tolerated. This is clear from the Code of Conduct we introduced earlier this year and our members can be in no doubt that we expect them to behave in line with our Code of Conduct and to ensure their colleagues do too. We will be working with the RCA to ensure that this Code of Conduct is displayed prominently in every weighing room and changing room in the country.

Whilst we reject the wholesale criticism of the culture within the weighing room, everything is not perfect. There are lessons to be learnt for the PJA and its members and we recognise change is needed. This starts with creating facilities that do not require female jockeys to be in the male jockeys changing room in order to do their job but doesn’t stop there.

The life of a jockey is unrelentingly tough for the many reasons which are widely recognised. It is a particularly dangerous occupation where the risk of a fall and serious injury is ever present and safety is of the utmost importance. The PJA therefore accepts that the language used in the weighing room will not always be the language you would expect in an office. This is no different to what happens in the pressure cooker of any professional sport. However, it is vital all jockeys adhere to our Code of Conduct and are respectful of their colleagues, whether male or female.

We are continuing to implement our restructure of earlier this year, whereby we streamlined and brought new expertise to our Board, and created a Jockeys Advisory Group, for which individuals are still being recruited. These individuals will have enhanced responsibility and become our equivalent of team leaders in the weighing room. It is also vital that we develop a more formal relationship between Jockey Coaches and senior jockeys to ensure concerns or issues about an individual’s riding are dealt with in a timely but professional manner. We have already started conversations with the British Racing School, the managers of the Jockey Coaching programme, with a view to implementing this.

Statement from female jockey

The PJA has been asked to issue the following statement on behalf of a number of female jump jockeys in response to today’s decision by the BHA Disciplinary Panel in the case against Robbie Dunne. They have asked that their names are not added to the statement having seen the reaction towards anyone who has expressed such views.

“Firstly we would like to reassure everyone that, on the whole, our experiences within the weighing room have been overwhelmingly positive. We need not cover this again as many of our colleagues have spoken out about this and we feel we can relate to their experiences. The weighing room is our family and is a place we all will be very sad to leave once our careers are over.

“With regards to the hearing involving Robbie following a complaint about his conduct by Bryony, we are really disappointed with the way us and our male colleagues have all been portrayed by the BHA and subsequently reported in the media. From our understanding , what most people are upset about is why no one has spoken up to say they heard anything and why the weighing room “turned a blind eye” to bullying.

“We do not accept that our weighing room colleagues have not been truthful through the process. If anyone had evidence that could have been useful to either side, it is disappointing if they haven’t come forward but given the BHA’s handling of the matter and the public reaction to the case and anyone who has given evidence that wasn’t in line with the prosecution it is not necessarily surprising if that’s been the case.

“One thing to consider though is if anyone thinks they heard something but don’t know for sure what was said or genuinely cannot recall, how are they supposed to stand up and be cross examined when they don’t know exactly what happened? How is it fair to either side to speculate or make up a memory of what might have been said when evidence was collected so long after the event? Would people prefer us to lie and make up stuff to fit what they want to hear? We can only say our truth here!

“It is sad that whilst one woman is being praised for speaking her truth, the rest of us have been shamed for doing the same. At no point have we condoned what is alleged to have happened – we just haven’t been able to give any evidence to support it as we don’t have any. If anyone heard anything and has held on to it, they are letting the whole weighing room down and it would be hugely disappointing.

“One thing that this whole incident highlights is the need to expect better from one another. This is not just something within the weighing room or within the broader industry, it is across all walks of life. We would challenge anyone to stand up and say they have never said something to someone they regret or would love to take back. We have to take lessons from these occurrences, learn from them and move on.

“We have spent years trying to call on the BHA to take notice of us and they have failed us. We believe they have used the rest of the weighing room as scape goats to conceal the fact they have let female riders down despite ours and the PJA’s complaints. They failed to act when we pushed them on the substandard facilities and have only started to do so since this case went public.

“They have let both Bryony and Robbie down by taking so long to deal with this, leaving it festering in the air between colleagues and in the meantime being the ultimate cause of leaks it to the press. Finally, they have let us down by calling us and our male friends and colleagues liars and accusing us of turning a blind eye to bullying. You cannot turn a blind eye to something you have not seen.

“We really hope that it hasn’t put off further people seeking justice in the future as who could ever want to put themselves through this even though they have every right to? We are aware that the PJA has supported another of our colleagues in taking a complaint to the BHA but it is reassuring that negative experiences are not the norm and that we are not simply the “lucky ones”. We really hope that people can respect this point and understand that even though the weighing room isn’t perfect, this ‘rancid culture’ the BHA refers to is something totally unfamiliar to us.

“We have tried over the years to create a welcoming and supportive environment for young female jockeys to come in to, as much as can be possible considering the working conditions all jockeys are faced with as a result of BHA inaction. We can only say the same of the valets and male jockeys who have looked after us over the years too and we really hope this can continue.

“Times have and continue to change and there are some aspects of what has traditionally been the norm that need to change too. Now that our concerns over facilities are finally being heard and acted upon the weighing room will be changing too. Everyone understand the need for this but it doesn’t mean we need to be segregated entirely – none of us want that.

“This is our truth. We hope people can understand our views and not cut us down for speaking up and probably saying stuff that they don’t want to hear.”

♦ Bryony knows who her friends are – Mike Deasy’s Of Course column  http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-7Px


RACING POST OWNERS SELECTS US BANK FOR SALE OF THE BUSUNESS

8 December:  Spotlight Sports Group, which owns the Racing Post, has selected US bankers PJP Partners to handle the sale of the business.

Exponent Private Equity chose a US bank as interest is expected from American media operators as Spotlight has been expanding its presence in the States as gamblings has been legalised across the country.

More than two-thirds of Spotlight’s revenue comes from its online operations, with total income put at £65m in its latest report, a drop of nearly one-fifth with betting shop closures and Covid hitting print sales major contributors to the decline.

The sales is scheduled to get underway next year.


EXPANDED SKY BET SUNDAY SERIES BACK IN 2022    

8 December: An expanded Sky Bet Sunday Series will return in 2022 with six meetings scheduled between May and August with total prize-money of £1.2 million.

York, Hamilton and Pontefract will be new racecourses to host the Series joining Musselburgh, Haydock and Sandown

The six seven-race Sunday cards will again have a twilight slot and be shown in their entirety on ITV4, with each of the fixtures worth £200,000.

The fixture dates are:

  • Hamilton  8 May
  • York 22 May
  • Musselburgh 5 June 
  • Pontefract 19June
  • Haydock 7 August 7
  • Sandown 21 August 21

NEW CLASS OF “JUNIOR” HURDLE RACES

The BHA has announced details of a new programme of hurdle races designed to help the development of Jump horses in Great Britain.

Named Junior National Hunt Development Hurdle Races and open exclusively to three-year-olds from October to December and four-year-olds from January to April, the races will be run from mid-October 2022 to the end of the 2022/23 Jump season.

They will be open to horses that have not previously competed in a Flat race, or a Jump race except for a NH Flat or Junior National Hunt Development Hurdle Race, and will carry the same status as NH Flat races and Point-To-Point races, in that winners will not be precluded from competing in novice hurdles during the following Jump season.

The introduction of Junior National Hunt Development Hurdle Races, for which a maximum of four starts will be permitted per-horse, follows consultation between the BHA and the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA), and approval by the industry’s Racing Group.

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the BHA, said: “By adding these races to next year’s programme, we’ll be able to gain a much better understanding of the impact of providing young jumping horses with the opportunity to start their careers at an earlier stage.

“Such an approach is already well established in France and to some extent as part of a vibrant point-to-point scene in Ireland, and we hope that owners and trainers in Britain will support the introduction of Junior ‘National Hunt’ Development Hurdle Races and view them as an ideal opportunity for the right sort of jumping horse.”

Bryan Mayoh, Chairman of the TBA National Hunt Committee, said: “We have long believed that differences in upbringing, rather than in breeding or environment, is the principal reason why French-bred Jump horses have outperformed those produced in Britain and Ireland.

“The impact that Irish four-year-old Point-to-Points are now having on the successes of Irish-trained horses supports the hypothesis that Jump horses need to be broken and taught to jump earlier than has been traditional in Britain.

“We hope that forward-looking trainers will welcome the programme of Junior National Hunt Development Hurdle Races, coming in Autumn 2022, and target the youngsters they have now, or might purchase next year, at these races.

“These horses will not only benefit from early education but also enjoy the prospect of winning over hurdles as three- or four-year-olds as an alternative to the NH Flat race route, hopefully followed by a fruitful campaign in novice hurdles the following season and successful careers thereafter.”