13th April 2021
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) have today announced a unified Anglo-Irish Jumps weight-for-age (WFA) scale.
The new scale will come into effect at the beginning of the 2021/22 Jumps season and therefore apply to races staged from 1 May 2021 in Britain and races from 3 May 2021 in Ireland. As such, the changes will not apply during the Punchestown Festival, which runs from 27 April to 1 May.
The changes, which were approved by the BHA Board and the Board of the IHRB in March, sees Britain’s WFA scale increase and Ireland’s decrease by similar amounts, which in summary will mean:
- The time at which four-year-old hurdlers in Britain receive an allowance will increase by 2 months at all distances;
- The time four- and five-year-old hurdlers in Ireland receive an allowance will decrease by 4 months at all distances;
- The time four- and five-year-old chasers in Britain receive an allowance will remain unchanged at 2m and 2½m but will be extended by one month at 3m;
- The time four- and five-year-old chasers in Ireland receive an allowance will be decreased by 4 months at all distances;
- Allowance changes will occur on the monthly basis currently used in Ireland rather than the fortnightly changes used in Britain.
The agreement of a unified WFA scale follows more than a year of work, led by the BHA’s Head of Handicapping, Dominic Gardiner-Hill, and Andrew Shaw, the IHRB’s Senior Jumps Handicapper. The scale has been developed through detailed data analysis, with a view to providing the most accurate model possible for the different age groups.
The adjustments have resulted from an ongoing process of review and improvement, which is designed to ensure that handicapping methodologies remain the most suitable based on-up-to date and comprehensive analysis of data and emerging trends. There is also scope for further refinement of the unified Jumps WFA scale, with the collection of combined symmetrical data in both countries – something that had not previously been possible – and a full review every three years.
Dominic Gardiner-Hill, BHA Head of Handicapping, said:
“The unifying of the Jumps weight for age scales will address the difference in levels of allowances in Britain and Ireland, which can at certain points of the year vary by up to 5lbs-7lbs. It will also bring Jump racing into line with Flat racing, where the same WFA scale is used across the principal racing nations in Europe.
“I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues at the BHA and the IHRB for undertaking this comprehensive piece of work, which has at times required a degree of compromise, but has resulted in a mutually agreeable position – demonstrating the importance of ongoing co-operation between British and Irish racing authorities.”
Andrew Shaw, IHRB Senior Jumps Handicapper, said:
“Not only is the unification of the British and Irish scales a major step forward, but it also reflects the ever-increasing influence of the young, but more mature French-bred horses whose growing success in Britain and Ireland over the past 15 years has already resulted in changes being made to both of our scales in recent times.”