Weights to rise by 2lbs, with jockey safety allowance increasing to 4lbs

The BHA has confirmed that the 3lbs COVID allowance will be replaced with an across-the-board 2lbs rise in published weights, with the current 3lb back protector allowance rising to a general 4lbs safety allowance for jockeys.

The changes, which come into effect for races staged from Monday 2 May 2022, follow further discussions with the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), National Trainers Federation (NTF), and a number of Flat and Jump jockeys.

The rise in published weights and the introduction of a 4lb safety allowance means that horses will continue to carry the same weights that they have been carrying since the COVID allowance was introduced as an emergency measure in June 2020.

The weights published in race cards, however, will increase by 2lbs, providing the racing public with more accurate information about the weights being carried by horses.

The 1lb safety allowance will be added to the longstanding 3lbs allowance that compensates for the weight of a jockey’s back protector. This increased 4lbs safety allowance aims to assist jockeys with managing the natural daily variations in their body weight and supporting their physical and mental well-being.

Work will also take place to ensure increased transparency for customers around the existence of the 4lbs safety allowance.

The following examples have been provided to illustrate the impact of the weight and safety allowance changes:

Example 1: Weight for Age race on the Flat

Example 2: Handicap race over Jumps

The 2lbs weights rise will impact all runners in nearly all races. The only exception will be in a small number of Pattern races, particularly over Jumps, where there would be no obvious reason to apply the 2lb weights rise. This includes races such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup where the published weight for runners is already 11st 10lb, and there would be no benefits of increasing the published weight to 11st 12lb.

The BHA’s racing department will review race conditions in novice weight-for-age events, particularly over Jumps, with a view to managing the weights carried by young horses running under a penalty.

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the BHA, said:

“I would like to thank the many people from within the weighing room who have spoken with us in recent weeks. This process has allowed us to consider further concerns which did not feature as part of the initial consultation.

“During these discussions, riders have stressed the psychological benefits that the COVID allowance provided in terms of allowing them to manage the natural fluctuations in their body weight that occur from day-to-day. Many have stated that retaining at least some of this flexibility is as important for their well-being as any rise in the weights.

“We also recognise, however, that the decision to introduce a temporary COVID allowance has had a number of other consequences. Customers rightly expect transparency and accurate information, and the allowance has meant that horses have been carrying nearly half a stone more than the weights published in race cards and what is recorded in historical records.

“Whilst there is an allowance for the jockey’s body protector in most other major racing nations, including Ireland and France, we are concerned that the COVID allowance has created a much greater discrepancy between published weights and what horses are actually carrying in Britain compared with elsewhere.

“In reaching this solution, we have sought to balance all of these considerations with horses continuing to carry what they have been carrying since June 2020. Raising the published weights as well as publicising the existence of the safety allowance means the public will be better informed and have a more accurate understanding of what horses are carrying. The extra 1lb safety allowance will also provide riders with some flexibility to manage daily variations in their body weight.

“We are grateful to the NTF for their ongoing participation in these discussions, and for their acceptance of a revision to the original, agreed outcome from the consultation. A point of concern raised by trainers has been in relation to the weights carried by horses running under a penalty in novice events, particularly over Jumps, and the BHA’s racing team will be reviewing the conditions of these races with a view to managing such concerns.

“Finally, the welfare of our riders is very much a key priority, and we will continue to work with the PJA and its members to support the well-being of jockeys. Upgrades to weighing rooms as part of a long-term programme of improvement works to modernise facilities across all British racecourses have already been announced and, in addition, the issue of race weights will remain under regular review.”