• Racing at York in 2018

The Directors of the BHRC have attempted, since late November 2017, to contact Mick Welling in regard of racing at York this coming season. Whilst it is appreciated by the BHRC that firm assurances may not be able to be given due to the track being listed for sale, the BHRC requested some form of direction in regard of the fixture dates applied for:
April – 21st & 28th, May – 7th, 13th & 19th, June – 2nd, 17th & 23rd, August – 4th, 5th & 11th, September – 22nd, October – 6th & 13th
During January the BHRC were advised that an organisation had been invited to stage and promote racing at York Harness Raceway throughout 2018. The organisation have been asked to provide a written endorsement from Mick Welling to confirm that the track and facilities will be made available. The BHRC have also written to Mick Welling requesting the same. No formal written response has been received at BHRC as yet from either the organisation or Mick Welling.
The above information has been requested by Friday 9th February – the BHRC Directors will further discuss the issue after this date. In the absence of any response or confirmation, in order to aim in maintaining a full and fluent racing calendar for the coming season, the Directors will consider reverting the above fixture applications to provisional and reviewing submissions for racing from alternative promoters on an individual basis.
Further updates will follow.

  • BHRC Sire Stakes Series

Further to proposals put forward to the BHRC in regard of the Sire Stakes 4YO divisions, the Directors met recently and discussed the issue.
It was noted and agreed that the number of entries for the 4YO divisions have dwindled and have provided two or three horse races at best and Walkovers most recently. This it was felt is not in the interest of the licence holders, the promoter staging the races, the series itself nor the viewing and betting public.
The Directors have therefore decided to revert the 4YO division of the Sire Stakes to the previous format, whereby the Promoter staging the Sire Stakes Event will offer and promote a 4YO division or Free For All event open to previous Sire Stakes raced pacers.
The Sire Stakes will stage a 4YO division in the current format up to 2020 as the 2017 Yearlings were sustained to a series providing three divisions as 2YO, 3YO and 4YO.
Yearlings nominated from 2018 and on will be sustained to a series providing two divisions as 2YO and 3YO. The prize funds will be split equally and will increase due to the phasing out of the 4YO. Separate division for colts and fillies will continue.

  • BHRC Officers

The Directors of the BHRC have discussed the issue recently of growing the Council of the BHRC. The Directors understand that there are responsibilities that BHRC Stewards (Directors) are duty bound to fulfil that are somewhat onerous and challenging to be assigned to. With this in mind the Directors determined to offer a new role and appointments for BHRC Officers. Each Officer will have a designated role and will be requested to communicate with the BHRC Directors and attend Director or Council meetings as and when agenda items are relevant to their designated role. BHRC Officers will be ‘ex officio’ a member of the Council but will not carry a voting right or be a Director of the Company. BHRC Officers will not be required to supervise or undertake duties in regard of the Integrity Testing Programme or Disciplinary Issues. Two people have been approached so far to be appointed as BHRC Officers – one for Promotion of the Sport and STAGBI Liaison and the second for Corporate Liaison.
Further updates will follow.

  • Standardbred Horse Company Race Series

The Directors of the BHRC met recently to discuss the best format for utilising the generous sponsorship provided to Harness Racing in Great Britain by the Standardbred Horse Sales Company.
Over the last three seasons the sponsorship has been part of the fund in the Battle of the Big Guns – a race series which has provided some great Free For All races and close finishes, but that in the last season was under subscribed. One reason for the low entry is seen as the short supply of higher graded horses available to nominate to the series.
As part of the review Directors asked via Committee meetings for views and ideas on how best to take forward a revamp to the structure or series. The main response returned was to formulate a race series which can pool entries from the area of the handicap system with the highest number of horses to nominate and support the racing. During discussions, the Directors decided that the sponsorship should also still offer something for a ‘Big Gun’ if possible.
The outcome is a two-fold application of the funds:

  • A Battle of the Bigs Gun Free For All

£1000 of the sponsorship will be contributed towards a Free For All race provided that the Promoter has a £1000 purse prior to entry fees and the added money. The race to be named the Standardbred Sales Co. Battle of the Big Guns Free For All. The BHRC will provide a trophy and rug for the winner.
From 2019 Promoters will be invited early in the year to provide details of any races they intend to stage that meet the above criteria and the BHRC will decide which race receives the added sponsorship.
For 2018, as race schedules will likely be in place already, the Directors have determined to offer the sponsorship to the Free For All race at Musselburgh.

  • Star Maker Series

A new series to cater for the lower end of the handicap. The target region being horses that have not won much money at 2YO or 3YO. The series will consist of heats and a final, which Promoters will be invited to tender for.
Draft Race criteria:
[a] For horses 4YO and over
[b] For horses with less than £1000 Lifetime Earnings
[c] £100 Nomination Fee to be paid to BHRC (date to be confirmed)
[d] £35 Entry Fee to each Heat
[e] Minimum £500 tender from Promoter to stage each Heat or Final
[f] Maximum 10 runners per Heat
[g] All Heats to be Ballot For Position

Projected prize fund structure (based on 30 horses nominating):
Compiled from sponsorship, promoters tenders, nomination fees and heat entry fees
Heats: £1200 purse each (600/300/150/100/50)
Final: £5750 purse (3000/1500/750/300/200)
The more horses nominate, the more purse values increase

Draft Race Conditions:
Heats and Final to be staged as Ballot For Position
Heat win equals automatic qualification for Final and horse cannot compete in another Heat (subject to entry numbers)
All horses guaranteed at least one heat run – horses that have competed more than once are eligible for another heat but could be balloted out if fields are oversubscribed
In the event of oversubscribed heats, horses that competed in most heats would be balloted out first
Final to consist of Five Heat Winners and Three Losers with most points based on 2nd and 3rd placings – 10 points for 2nd place, 5 points for 3rd place. In the event of a tie, horse competing will be drawn out of the hat, with the remaining being reserves.

More information to follow.

  • Facebook & Live Streaming

Concerns were expressed to Directors recently over the above issue. After lengthy debate and analysis, the Directors were mindful of trying to find a compromise between the concerns raised by Promoters and also the supply and demand issue for those who want to view the racing.
The Directors determined, with approval of Promoters, that streaming live from BHRC affiliated events to social media or other platforms will not be permitted from 2018 on. Promoters will corroborate the directive with a notice in race day programmes:-
RESTRICTIONS ON COVERAGE – Save as expressly permitted by both the BHRC and the Promoter, attendees are strictly prohibited from advertising, leafleting, commercial or promotional activities and broadcasting/streaming any audio/visual coverage of races or competition whilst at this fixture. You undertake not to make any commercial use of any audio/visual coverage, still images or data obtained that relates to racing or competition at this fixture.
In order to provide content, the BHRC have plans for Bloggers to be introduced for the 2018 season – one each for England, Scotland & Wales. These Bloggers will be permitted (with joint agreement of the BHRC & Promoters) to live stream at least one race per fixture that they attend. The bloggers will also interview owners, trainers and drivers which may also be streamed live. As many other races as possible will be filmed, but not streamed live – this content will be uploaded and available for viewing after the racing.
The portal for viewing the live content will be a Facebook page restricted to licence holders only, thus providing another tier of service and early access for licence holders. The content will be copied to open public viewing one to two working days after the race fixture, which will help to build a library of racing footage.
For any further advise or discussion on this issue please contact your local BHRC Director.

  • Handicapping

Due to some issues of administration and alliance within the BHRC Racing database, the Handicap Panel recently reviewed areas of the 2018 Handicap Update and modified where necessary:

1. Grade 11 and 12
These two top grades will not be deleted from 2018, they will instead be phased out over a two year period.
Horses ending 2017 in Grade 11 or 12 will have the same start mark for 2018 with banked runs included.
At the end of 2018, any horses graded as 12 AFTER end of season lifts and age lifts have been applied will be handicapped to Grade 11 (5200) with 0 banked runs.
At the end of 2019, any horses graded as 11 AFTER end of season lifts and age lifts have been applied will be handicapped to Grade 10 (4450) with 0 banked runs.
2. Grade 1
Grade band to be reduced to £0-299. No horse will be raised in grade.
3. Penalty Free
Horses limited to two wins within the Penalty Free dates period. Heats & Final on same day class as two wins.
4. Saddle Races
Saddle races form part of the National Handicap System – horses will enter races on the handicap applicable at time of entry and any prize money won under saddle will be classed as Handicap Earnings.

The BHRC Racing database is being updated this week to reflect changes and website will be revised shortly.
For any further information on the above please contact your local Handicap Panel member.