BHA Announces Measures To Aid Non-runner Problem

The British Horseracing Authority has announced a series of measures aimed at reducing the number of non-runners.

Following a lengthy process which involved consultations with the National Trainers Federation, Professional Jockeys Association, Racecourse Association, Racehorse Owners Association and Horseracing Bettors Forum, steps have been taken to prevent the numbers rising further. There was a near-eight per cent rise in the number of non-runners in 2016, but three categories were highlighted as providing 90 per cent of those - vets certificates, self-certificates and going changes. The BHA will hand out punishments to those who they consider repeat offenders. As such, league tables will be produced quarterly giving details of the rate of non-runners from individual trainers. If any trainer exceeds the average non-runner rate by 50 per cent, they will lose their right to self-certify for 12 months.

There will also be a two-day quarantine period when a horse has been withdrawn with a vet's certificate and the BHA are to encourage to ROA and PJA to agree that an owner will pay their jockeys the full riding fee for late non-runners.

Richard Wayman, chief operating officer for the BHA, said: "While there are a number of valid or unavoidable reasons for non-runners, it is important that, as governing body and regulator, the BHA does all that it can to reduce the number to a minimum. Non-runners are a source of frustration to those who watch and bet on the sport, creating uncertainty in betting markets, reducing participation, the number of runners, and the competitiveness of races. They can also impact significantly on jockeys and owners, especially if horses are withdrawn late. It is, of course, important that trainers have the ability to withdraw horses for valid veterinary or welfare reasons, or if there has been a change in the going. But equally, we must also ensure that such an ability is not misused. We were also clear in compiling these recommendations that we must not unfairly penalise the vast majority of trainers who operate within the spirit of the rules."

The BHA said a full implementation plan is currently being produced and, wherever possible, the measures outlined will become effective from October 2017.

Dale Gibson, Executive Director (Racing) of the PJA, said in a statement: "The PJA is broadly supportive of the new measures, as outlined today by the BHA, to reduce the significant number of declared non-runners in the UK. The combination of improvements should hopefully bring about a cultural and meaningful change when declaring a runner; in light of recent examples, highlighting the need for a tighter rule, therefore concentrating the minds of connections at declaration time. Over a lengthy period of time we have lobbied extensively on behalf of not only Professional Jockeys but also for the benefit of the wider industry as a whole, to help bring about much needed reforms. The PJA looks forward to fewer declared non-runners in the future and we plan to consider all the BHA recommendations in consultation with our Board in due course."