Amateur riders prevented from riding in Hunter Chases

14-January-2021
14-January-2021 18:25
in General
by Peter McNeile

Britain's latest lockdown has put paid to Point-to-Point fixtures until at least the third week in February, and very likely later, notwithstanding the ability of organising hunts to stage subsequent fixtures. This has put increased importance on the relatively small number of Hunter Chases run under Rules at which horses can qualify for a place at Cheltenham or Aintree.

This will now be exacerbated by the INHSC's announcement today that Point-to-Point racing in Ireland will also be suspended with immediate effect. 

To qualify for Cheltenham, a horse must, since October 1st 2018,  have finished first or second twice in hunter chases, or have won two open Point-to-Points, or won one Open and finished first or second in a Hunter Chase. The closing date for entries is March 2nd. This means that even if the British lockdown allows Pointing to resume as early as February 20, there is a maximum of 22 opportunities remaining to qualify, but several of these are novice or maiden events. 

The BHA has also had to deal with a further anomaly surrounding Hunter Chases, given that racing is currently continuing under the DCMS description of "elite sport". Whilst elite sport has hitherto allowed for Amateur Rider races, Hunter chases fall outside this description, so amateur riders are now excluded from riding in the very races that have been staged for their benefit. Given the qualifying criteria imposed by the BHA on the Festival's amateurs after the disastrous National Hunt Chase of a few years back,  this makes it still more arduous a process getting a Hunter and its rider to the start line. 

Until today in Ireland,  a full programme of racing under Rules and between the flags had been continuing, albeit without spectators. The Irish authorities are now reassessing the situation in liaison with Horseracing Ireland to protect the Hunter Chase programme, where amateur riders may still take part. However, there are just three before the entry stage for Cheltenham, so without bolstering this programme, Irish qualification will be nigh on impossible for those not previously eligible.

Since 2015, Irish horses have won the upper hand in the Cheltenham Foxhunter. With the exception of 2015, when they fielded 10 of the 24 runners, they regularly pitch 6-8 of their best against ours. In four of those six years, including in 2020, they've prevailed. 

There is one further major snag playing against Irish advantage in the Amateurs' Gold Cup, which, if it comes to pass, will make Irish participation in the Festival impossible for a second time in 20 years. As it stands, the UK and Irish governments may still prohibit horses from travelling between the two countries, especially if these originate outside licensed racing yards. It's a sure thing that both the BHA and IHA will be lobbying hard to guard against this in time for March and April. 

Restricting our best pointers solely to appearances on licensed racecourses will improve the competitive nature of the limited number of hunter chases, which to date have raised only small fields. Opening up those races to conditionals and professionals though makes them just another ordinary race. It's the volume, geographical reach and opportunity to ride on the big stage of a proper racecourse that encourages many amateur riders, owners and keepers to participate.

For a second season in succession, Pointing is looking at a diminished fixture list to draw upon for its creme de la creme. It strikes me the cream just went sour.

Next Event

When?

Sunday December 12th Barbury International First Race 11.30am

Sunday February 13th Vine & Craven First race 11.30am

Sunday April 10th Tedworth First Race 1.15pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where?

Barbury, 3m N of Marlborough, off A346, Jn 15 M4

 

Latest News

Amateur riders prevented from riding in Hunter Chases

14-January-2021
14-January-2021 18:25
in General
by Peter McNeile

Britain's latest lockdown has put paid to Point-to-Point fixtures until at least the third week in February, and very likely later, notwithstanding the ability of organising hunts to stage subsequent fixtures. This has put increased importance on the relatively small number of Hunter Chases run under Rules at which horses can qualify for a place at Cheltenham or Aintree.

This will now be exacerbated by the INHSC's announcement today that Point-to-Point racing in Ireland will also be suspended with immediate effect. 

To qualify for Cheltenham, a horse must, since October 1st 2018,  have finished first or second twice in hunter chases, or have won two open Point-to-Points, or won one Open and finished first or second in a Hunter Chase. The closing date for entries is March 2nd. This means that even if the British lockdown allows Pointing to resume as early as February 20, there is a maximum of 22 opportunities remaining to qualify, but several of these are novice or maiden events. 

The BHA has also had to deal with a further anomaly surrounding Hunter Chases, given that racing is currently continuing under the DCMS description of "elite sport". Whilst elite sport has hitherto allowed for Amateur Rider races, Hunter chases fall outside this description, so amateur riders are now excluded from riding in the very races that have been staged for their benefit. Given the qualifying criteria imposed by the BHA on the Festival's amateurs after the disastrous National Hunt Chase of a few years back,  this makes it still more arduous a process getting a Hunter and its rider to the start line. 

Until today in Ireland,  a full programme of racing under Rules and between the flags had been continuing, albeit without spectators. The Irish authorities are now reassessing the situation in liaison with Horseracing Ireland to protect the Hunter Chase programme, where amateur riders may still take part. However, there are just three before the entry stage for Cheltenham, so without bolstering this programme, Irish qualification will be nigh on impossible for those not previously eligible.

Since 2015, Irish horses have won the upper hand in the Cheltenham Foxhunter. With the exception of 2015, when they fielded 10 of the 24 runners, they regularly pitch 6-8 of their best against ours. In four of those six years, including in 2020, they've prevailed. 

There is one further major snag playing against Irish advantage in the Amateurs' Gold Cup, which, if it comes to pass, will make Irish participation in the Festival impossible for a second time in 20 years. As it stands, the UK and Irish governments may still prohibit horses from travelling between the two countries, especially if these originate outside licensed racing yards. It's a sure thing that both the BHA and IHA will be lobbying hard to guard against this in time for March and April. 

Restricting our best pointers solely to appearances on licensed racecourses will improve the competitive nature of the limited number of hunter chases, which to date have raised only small fields. Opening up those races to conditionals and professionals though makes them just another ordinary race. It's the volume, geographical reach and opportunity to ride on the big stage of a proper racecourse that encourages many amateur riders, owners and keepers to participate.

For a second season in succession, Pointing is looking at a diminished fixture list to draw upon for its creme de la creme. It strikes me the cream just went sour.

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