The British Horseracing Association (BHA) believes there are “challenges and concerns” facing jump racing in the UK having announced its first comprehensive review of the sport since 2004.
Issues such as a decline in owners when compared to flat racing will be discussed by an industry wide 20-member committee. Ruth Quinn, director of racing for the BHA, said: “Having just come off the back of a successful Grand National meeting, which was itself hot on the heels of another memorable Cheltenham Festival, some might be forgiven for thinking that jump racing is in perfect health.
“Indeed we have a great deal to be positive and proud about. Attendances and betting turnover at Cheltenham and Aintree reached record levels and the quality of the jump racing product at the top end remains first class, and continues to capture the imagination of the British public.
“However, a look beneath the bonnet reveals challenges and concerns which need to be addressed in order to secure the long-term health of the sport. Without an industry functioning properly, from the grass-roots up, then the future security and success of the sport at all levels is at risk.”
The committee, chaired by former long-serving Cheltenham racecourse chief Edward Gillespie, will also assess race programmes, field sizes, breeding, horse population, prize-money and betting trends. Less prestigious meetings will come in for particular focus as the sport’s blue riband events such as the Grand National continue to perform strongly.
Gillespie said: “I very much look forward to working with the project group and to hearing opinions from across the sport. There is so much for jump racing to be proud of and, inevitably, areas where it is not fulfilling its potential. The sport benefited substantially from a previous review in 2004 and the BHA feels this is an appropriate time to identify areas of improvement for the next decade.”