Britain’s novice programme will be expanded beginning in 2018 to include novice races for 3-year-olds and older horses. The majority of 3-year-old maiden races will become novice races in an effort to increase opportunities for horses that win races early in their careers. This will not affect the balance of open, auction and median auction races.
Due to the size of the weight-for-age allowances that 3-year-olds receive in the first half of the year, there will also be early novice opportunities for horses aged four and up. These will be programmed during the all-weather period and into the first few weeks of the Flat season in order to provide sufficient opportunities and avoid 3-year-olds being required to race off very light weights.
Three-year-olds and older horses will now be required to run three times in order to receive a handicap mark unless they have run twice and won both races.
Richard Wayman, chief operating officer of the BHA, said, “We have been pleased with how the 2-year-old novice programme has been received and, with these proposals having received unanimous support from the Racing Group, are confident it will be similarly effective for horses aged three and up.”
Trainer John Gosden spoke out in support of the development of the programme, saying, “this is further progress in race planning as it gives further opportunities to horses that have broken their maiden in their first or second start and has been very successful in the 2-year-old programme. This also mirrors the allowance system that exists in America and allows a trainer to develop a horse’s career more logically.”
Trainer William Haggas said, “Having been a supporter of the changes to the 2-year-old novice programme, which have proved to be a great success, I am delighted that the BHA has sanctioned these further changes into the 3-year-old season. We must encourage all participants to perform to their best at all times and whereas, in the past, a horse winning on its first-ever start has been limiting to its future prospects, this gives trainers, owners and handicappers a fairer chance.”