SBC News BHA adopts new Start rules to support welfare strategies

BHA adopts new Start rules to support welfare strategies

Several changes have been made to the start rules in British racing, after being approved by the Board of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). 

Following a review of stalls and starting procedures over a 12-month period, one of the first adjustments focuses on Late Load Requests – defined as raceday privilege requests made by a trainer for their horse to be loaded out of sequence.

In detail, Late Load Requests are now restricted to horses that have demonstrated behavioural issues inside the starting stalls in a previous race in Great Britain

Meanwhile, horses having their debut run will be ineligible for a Late Load Request unless they have taken a pre-race assessment that has specifically identified a behavioural concern inside the starting stalls.

Furthermore, whilst it is not a new rule but rather provides additional clarity around what 

may constitute an offence, grabbing or twitching a horse’s ear or tail during the loading process will only be permitted for safety purposes, effective from 1 January 2024.

However, a new rule that comes into effect immediately is BHA starters no longer being able to carry the hunting crop during jump starts. 

The BHA also delved into starts training for Trainer representatives, stating that all persons assisting at the Start must have completed the BHA Trainer Representative – Starts Training Module.

To ensure safety protocols are fully understood by everyone in and around the Starts area, Trainers and their representatives will be required to have taken the online module prior to accompanying their horse to the Start.

In addition to this, British Racing’s Horse Welfare Strategy, A life Well Lived, also identified the need for the sport to conduct a short review of stalls and starting.

This involves an assessment of risk of injury to horses from stalls starts and jumps (tape and flip) starts to ensure risks are as low as possible, as well as a review to include consideration of stalls loading procedures and assessment of any real or perceived welfare issues with appropriate action to be taken as necessary.

The BHA concluded: “In addition to the Rule changes set out above, areas of work that have been completed include workshops for starters, stewards and veterinary officers to review rules and procedures; a review of loading sequences and times; and a review of the penalty for being late to post.

“Other items are still subject to engagement and consultation with industry stakeholders, with areas such as blindfold use and stalls design set to be considered in the coming months.”

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