Clerks of courses are backing a green light for hunters’ chases despite national lockdowns across the United Kingdom and current pause on Britain’s point-to-point circuit.
The first such race of the 2020/21 season is due to take place on Thursday, January 21, at Ludlow. Clerk of the course Simon Sherwood said today: “We are 100 per cent supporting hunters’ chases if they are deemed possible by the British Horseracing Authority.
“There was an RCA [Racecourse Association] Zoom meeting this morning where the topic was discussed and Ilona [Barnett of Stratford Racecourse] made a strong case for staging hunters’ chases. Communication is now ongoing within the powers that be and we await the outcome, but we support the grass roots of racing and we have said we want to carry on [staging hunters’ chases].
“Whatever we can do to stage hunters’ chases we will – if that means a need for separate changing areas that is the sort of thing we can manage.”
Ludlow Racecourse, which is scheduled to stage the first hunters' chase of the season
Catterick clerk of the course Fiona Needham spoke in similar terms, and said: “I hope hunters’ chases will go ahead because they will provide opportunities to people to run horses. I programmed two hunters’ chases for this season, one more than last year, because I suspected there would be a need.
“The Foxhunter Chases [at Cheltenham and Aintree] are always popular betting events, but you need races leading up to them.”
Fiona Needham, clerk of the course at Catterick Racecourse
Stratford Racecourse’s general manager Ilona Barnett said: “I am hoping we can run hunters’ chases, partly because we want horses to be able to qualify for our big end-of-season hunters’ chase meeting. As long as everyone abides by the protocols that are in place there is no reason why such races cannot be run.”
The schedule of hunters' chases for the first three weeks of the season can be found here.