Ascot Racecourse is pleased to announce that we will be introducing One Fit padded hurdles to our track at the beginning of the 2018/19 Jumps season.
Ascot becomes the first Grade One track to be using the hurdles which are an initiative of BHA Senior Inspector of Courses, Richard Linley.
They have been well received at the other seven courses where they have been used since they were introduced on British racecourses in 2013 at Newton Abbot.
Chris Stickels, Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course, said: “They have been used now for five years and we've been following their performance. We like the idea of them because they are a development on the current birch hurdle. We felt the padded hurdles were the next stage for equine welfare.
"The other positive sign is the reports from vets concerning superficial injuries horses can sustain over hurdles, things that might need stitching and keep them off the track.
"Vets are finding fewer of those kind of injuries with horses running over padded hurdles, so from an equine welfare point of view they are a positive move and that's the reason we are investing in them."
Once again Ascot will be offering over £2 million in prize money across our eight Jumps race days including an increase of £25,000 to the Gérard Bertrand Hurst Park Handicap Chase on Saturday, 24th November, now worth £125,000.
This becomes an early closer (Tuesday, 6th November) with a handle – Hurst Park – for the first time.
Nick Smith, Director of Racing and Communications, said: “This is part of an initiative alongside the BHA to strengthen and promote the two mile chase division, and perhaps appeal more now as an early opportunity for horses being aimed at the course and distance Grade One £150,000 Clarence House Chase in January.
“The local Hurst Park Racecourse closed in 1962, and Ascot used 20 acres of the turf from that track to create the Jumps track here. There was a Hurst Park Novices’ Chase which was discontinued in 1999 and it is a title we have been waiting for the right opportunity to resurrect.”
Also of note this year is the doubling in value to £50,000 of the 2m 5f Graduation Chase on Saturday, 22nd December, which has increased to help develop this part of the race programme in line with the BHA.