SBC News BHA permits on-the-day surface switch for ‘unraceable’ conditions
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BHA permits on-the-day surface switch for ‘unraceable’ conditions

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has formed a new policy that permits an on-the-day switch between flat turf and all-weather tracks.

This would occur when the original racing surface is deemed ‘unraceable’ and the fixture would otherwise need to be abandoned.

The organisation stated that the policy will apply where a change of surface may be possible on the day of the fixture due to a deterioration in the ground conditions, when horses, participants and paying customers will have already arrived at or be travelling to the racecourse.

Tom Byrne, BHA Head of Racing and Betting, explained that after the abandonment of a Lingfield turf fixture in 2022, questions were raised by connections as to whether there could be a process in place to allow the affected races to simply transfer to the All-Weather course for those still willing to race – especially with participants and racegoers having already travelled to the course.

“By introducing this new policy, we hope that if we are faced with a similar situation again, a switch of race surface on the day of the race would be permitted, allowing the fixture to continue, rather than being abandoned,” he said.

The new policy will only be relevant for racecourses that have both an all-weather and Flat turf surface, which at present is only Lingfield Park.

The BHA has released a full breakdown of what would happen in a scenario where a transfer of surface is approved.

“We expect that any such instance will be very rare, with an on-the-day switch only permitted in the most exceptional circumstances,” Bryne continued.

“However if the need does arise, then we give ourselves the chance to try and fairly deliver races for participants who want to run, as well as offering racing for customers both on and off-course.”

Where a surface switch has been approved, trainers will have the opportunity to withdraw their horses without incurring a penalty. Any horses that remain in the race will run as advertised in the racecard, with race weight and conditions remaining as originally published.

The new policy only deals with on-the-day surface switches that may be necessary in exceptional circumstances to enable the fixture to go ahead. 

All other transfer of surface requests in advance of raceday will continue to be dealt with by the BHA Racing Department as per the existing Fixture Policy.

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