04 Nov 2021

BHA confirms introduction of Junior National Hunt Development Hurdle races from Autumn 2022

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

Entitled 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.”