Steps have been taken to improve the health of jump racing in a review, published on Monday, instigated by the British Horseracing Authority, including addressing “significant concern” over the state of the sport in the North.
The object of the review, conducted by a group representing key parts of the industry, was to find solutions to the problems facing the sport.
Chief areas of focus included the race programme, field sizes, ownership, horse population, prize-money and attendances.
The review outlined four areas of strategy - to improve the finance of jump racing, increase the supply of horses, improve the opportunities for horses and participants and promote the sport.
The review provided 41 recommendations to secure the future health of the sport.
Some of the major recommendations include attracting more owners, a regional breeding programme, race planning, reinvigorating jump racing in the North and a more proactive approach to Saturday fixtures to deliver programmes of appropriate value.
The report said that although data suggested that the race programme, prize money and class of races in the North had not materially declined, or experienced a disproportionate decline compared to the rest of the country, there is significant concern that jump racing in the North needs specific attention. There is no “aspirational meeting” in the North, other than Aintree at the end of the season, to encourage Northern owners and trainers.
It was therefore recommended that the proposed ‘Challenger Series’ - for horses not rated quite high enough to run at the big Festivals, such as Cheltenham and Aintree - be developed with specific focus on the fact that the final would be held in the North.
A specific BHA appointed ‘task force’ should charged with providing initiatives to reinvigorate jump racing in the North and to champion the sport to the media, horsemen, racegoers, the betting public and potential owners.
Ruth Quinn, the BHA’s director of international racing and racing development, said: “This review is the culmination of extensive work from the Review Group and our thanks goes to all those involved throughout the consultation process and the subsequent discussions.
“There is no doubt that jump racing is a tremendous asset to British sport.
“We hope this review - and the recommendations outlined - helps us to safeguard jumping’s future health and ensure its growth for years to come.”
The report has been welcomed by the National Trainers Federation, in particular the aforementioned ‘Challenger Series’.