- Series of 10 Chases for Mares culminating in £50,000 Final added to Challenger Series programme
- Finals day now worth more than £300,000 to be held on Easter Saturday at Haydock Racecourse
- Series provides further incentive to own Mares and keep them in training
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced the programming of a Series of 10 Steeple Chases aimed at mid-tier mares as an addition to the successful Challenger Series, the finals of which will take place on Easter Saturday at Haydock Park.
The Mares Chase Series has been added to the Challenger Series after the National Trainers Federation’s discussions with jumps trainers highlighted the need for a Mares Chase Series. It also adds further incentive to keep jump mares in training. In the spirit of the Challenger Series, which is aimed at quality horses which are just below top level, the qualifying races will be Class 3 and 4 races for mares rated up to 130.
The addition of the Mares Chase Series is one of a series of recent initiatives to bolster opportunities for jumps mares, including the recent addition of a Mares Novices’ Hurdle to the Cheltenham Festival.
The Challenger Series was launched in 2015 as an expansion of the Grassroots Jump Series which was previously run exclusively by Jockey Club Racecourses. The Series will now comprise six separate Series, the Mares Chase series, alongside the existing 3m Handicap Chase, 2m 3f Handicap Chase, 2m Handicap Hurdle, 3m Handicap Hurdle and 2m 3f Mares’ Hurdle Series’.
The Challenger Series will now allow horses rated up to 135 (130 for mares) to qualify through a total of 85 races for a Finals Day on Easter Saturday at Haydock Park. The new, enhanced Finals Day will carry prize money of over £300,000 in total.
Richard Wayman, BHA Chief Operating Officer, said;
“Two of the key recommendations within the Jump Racing Review were to create the Challenger Series for horses ranked below the highest level and also to continue to develop the mares’ programme with a view to encouraging an increased level of participation. We were delighted with how the Challenger Series was received in its first year and, following discussions with horsemen and racecourses, agreed it would provide an ideal opportunity to further support the mares’ programme. Owners continue to demonstrate their enthusiasm for Series leading to high value Finals and we believe that adding Mares Chases to the Challenge Series can provide a further boost to the number of Jump Mares in training.”
Rupert Arnold, NTF Chief Executive, said;
“The NTF welcomes warmly the addition of a Mares Chase Series to the Challenger Series. Feedback from jump trainers at our regional meetings has emphasised the need to strengthen the Mares Chase programme now that other initiatives have provided the stepping stones to develop mares and introduce incentives for mares to be kept in training. At the first of the quarterly debriefing sessions between the NTF and BHA instigated as part of the Holistic Race Planning project, our National Hunt Committee suggested the introduction of a Mares Chase Series under the Challenger Series umbrella and we are delighted the BHA and its Racing Group supported the idea. Our aim is that this will pave the way for a Mares Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in the future.”
Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses, said;
“This is a great addition to the Challenger Series Finals day at Haydock Park and the races leading up to it across all Jumps courses in Britain. Investment in mid-tier racing is absolutely vital for our sport and it is important we do whatever we can to offer good value prizes to horsemen competing at this level.”