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More incentives for classy mares

Jump racing's drive to attract quality fillies and mares to enjoy a long racing career over hurdles and fences are behind most of this season's changes to some top-quality races announced by the British Horseracing Authority.

There is a new Listed juvenile hurdle at Doncaster in January and a similar race at Cheltenham in April has been raised to Grade 3 status.

Dan Skelton, who trained Stylish Dancer to win the Cheltenham race earlier this year, said: "It has the potential to become a really competitive contest. Giving the race black type status is definitely a step in the right direction and it gives the best horses in their age group a chance to compete for it, which is exactly as it should be.”

Exeter has a new Listed 3m mares' chase at its February 10 meeting while the EBF/TBA mares' finals of the bumper series (at Sandown in March), novice hurdle series (Newbury in March) and novice chase series at Cheltenham in April have had their conditions to include having to finish in the first six in the chase or the first eight in one of the qualifiers.

BHA director Ruth Quinn said: "The upgrades and changes announced today for the 2018/19 season show ongoing progress in the work to develop the population of jumping mares. This remains a long-term BHA project."

The jump pattern committee acknowledge they are putting the cart before the horse in providing a new race for juvenile hurdling fillies given the population currently produced but hoped the new incentives would lead to a bigger pool.

Elsewhere the Elite Hurdle has taken a long and winding road since its inception at Cheltenham 26 years ago and the some-time Champion Hurdle trial is getting its mojo back.

The committee has given up on the Grade 2's limited handicap conditions and reverts to its former self with a weight-for-age scale for the race which features four-year-olds and upwards on November 10 this year.

4 October 2018

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