STEPS are to be taken to boost jump racing in the North following a review instigated by the British Horseracing Authority.
While Flat racing is flourishing in Yorkshire, Wakanda’s high-profile success at Ascot on Saturday for Sue and Harvey Smith was a rare victory for the North in such a competitive race.
The review outlined four areas of strategy – to improve the finance of jump racing, increase the supply of horses, improve the opportunities for horses and participants and promote the sport.
Some of the major recommendations include attracting more owners, a regional breeding programme, race planning, reinvigorating jump racing in the North and a more proactive approach to Saturday fixtures to deliver programmes of appropriate value.
The report said that although data suggested that the race programme, prize money and class of races in the North had not materially declined, or experienced a disproportionate decline compared to the rest of the country, there is significant concern that jump racing here needs specific attention. There is no “aspirational meeting” in the North, other than Aintree.
It was therefore recommended that the proposed ‘Challenger Series’ - for horses not rated quite high enough to run at the big Festivals, such as Cheltenham and Aintree - be developed with specific focus on the fact that the final would be held in the North.