BHA makes changes to non-runners from starting stalls

The new rule change will come into effect 1 May, but has been the topic of discussion since the 2023 Epsom Dash, where several gates were slow to open.

horses gates
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The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has changed the Rules of Racing regarding non-runners.

This will allow BHA stewards to declare a horse as a non-runner if they believe the race was not started on equal terms.

The prior rule, which is Rule (H)6 in the Rules of Racing, said a non-runner could only be called if there was a fault with the starting stalls, or if the horse was riderless at the ‘Off.’

However, the new Rule (H)6 includes a number of new scenarios where “a horse is denied a fair start, and its chances are materially affected,” including but not limited to: A fault with the starting stalls, the horse is riderless, or if a horse has gained an unfair advantage.

These can be triggered by equipment failures, stalls malfunctioning, handler intervention or horse misbehaviour.

This more ambiguous wording allows BHA stewards to consider anything that has affected the race and make a subsequent ruling that they deem fair.

Not only will this align the UK with International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) standards, but the decision was made alongside industry stakeholders and members from the betting industry.

BHA Chief Regulatory Officer, Brant Dunshea, said: “This amendment to the Rules will enable British racing to become signatories to the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities model rule on non-runners and therefore see us align with other major racing nations.

“It seeks to provide greater clarity and consistency for all involved and provides a regulatory solution in scenarios where it is deemed that a horse has been denied a fair start due to a situation beyond its own control or that of its rider, not previously covered by the rules.

“While we don’t expect this Rule to be required very often, we hope that extending the Stewards’ power in this area – something we have discussed at length with industry stakeholders prior to implementation – is a positive development for participants and bettors.”

This can be particularly important when it comes to betting, because a horse cannot be declared a non-runner if it goes on to win the race.

A horse will only have its win stripped from it if iti s decided that it won due to an unfair advantage, which will be decided by BHA stewards.

This comes after the BHA recently launched a campaign to highlight the welfare of British racehorses.

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