As the 2017/2018 Jumps season begins to kick into gear, so does the 2017/18 edition of the Challenger Series which gets underway with the Mares’ Series at Worcester Racecourse on Tuesday 17 October.
Speaking ahead of the 2017/18 edition, industry representatives have expressed their delight with the series so far and confirmed their continued support.
Paul Johnson, Head of Racing at the BHA, said: “We continue to be pleased with the performance of the Challenger Series and are looking forward to it kicking off for a third year. As well as offering a hugely competitive feature meeting for the racing public on Easter Saturday, the series provides meaningful, high value targets to connections of talented horses that operate just below the top class, something that can only be beneficial in supporting ownership at that level.
“Although all of the finals were competitive heats it was particularly encouraging to see 12 runners assembled for the Mares’ Chase final, which was run for the first time. It’s great that this series kicks of the 2017/18 edition of the Challenger Series and we look forward to seeing this, alongside all of the series, continue to develop in the coming years.”
Andy Clifton, Racing Director at the RCA, said: “”The RCA is delighted to support The Challenger Series as it enters its third season. In a short space of time, the Series has proved a valuable addition to the racing programme, providing competitive and compelling races for middle tier horses at 34 different racecourses. I am sure that the series will go from strength to strength this season and that the finals at Haydock Park will be as fiercely contested as ever.”
The Challenger Series, launched in 2015 as a result of the Jump racing review conducted by the BHA, has been well received by the racing public and is now a vital part of the racing calendar amongst trainers and owners.
Aimed at horses who operate at class three and four level, it comprises six separate series that allow horses rated up to 135 to qualify for a finals day at the Jockey Club’s Haydock Park Racecourse on Easter Saturday, 31 March 2017.
Each of the six finals carries £50,000 in prize money, resulting in a £300,000 raceday, which provides a substantial incentive and boost not only for mid-tier owners and trainers, but also for jump racing in the north.
34 racecourses will host Challenger Series qualifiers across the jumps season, including racecourses operated by Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR), Arena Racing Company (ARC) and independent tracks.
The six series and corresponding £50,000 finals are:
Staying Chase Series
Middle Distance Chase Series
Two Mile Hurdle Series
Stayers Hurdle Series
Mares’ Hurdle Series
Mares’ Chase Series
The 2017 Finals day had a record 68 runners across the six finals races, which produced some of the most competitive racing of the year for its level.
There are 15 Qualifiers for each Series, apart from the Mares’ Chase Series which will comprise of 12. All races will be Class 3 and Class 4 handicaps, with the first eight home qualifying for a place on Finals days. All horses that start a qualifier in the Mares’ Chase Series will qualify for the Final.