The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Newton Abbot Racecourse is continuing their trial of the ‘One-Fit’ padded hurdle design for a second year, having received approval for further funding from BHA’s Grant Scheme. The extension of the trial follows positive feedback from the racecourse and jockeys, alongside encouraging early statistical data about the performance of the hurdle in reducing faller and injury rates. The first year of the trial ran throughout Newton Abbot’s 2013 summer Jumping programme. The hurdle design consists of a standard timber hurdle frame with a fitted ‘closed cell’ foam padded frontage, rather than the traditional birch, and is designed to reduce faller rates and the risk of injury for both horse and rider involved in a fall. Refinements have been made to the shape, angle and outer material of the hurdle throughout the trial, following feedback from jockeys and their representative body the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), as well as Newton Abbot’s ground-staff and Richard Linley, Senior Inspector of Courses for BHA. It is intended that these changes will improve the functionality of the hurdles and further alterations may be made where necessary as the trial continues in to the second year.
Pat Masterson, Managing Director of Newton Abbot Racecourse, said:
We were extremely pleased with the way the trial went during the summer Jumping season. It remains our opinion that this ‘One-Fit’ padded hurdle will prove to be a safer obstacle for the welfare of the horse and jockey. We are looking forward to working with BHA next season with the long term view of using this hurdle permanently at Newton Abbot Racecourse.
As part of BHA’s commitment to maximising participant safety, both equine and human, a number of important safety and welfare improvements have been made to hurdle design in recent years, in conjunction with racecourses. The ‘One-Fit’ hurdle trial is part of this ongoing process.
Jamie Stier, Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation for BHA said:
Subject to the success of other refinements during the second year at Newton Abbot we hope to extend the ‘One-Fit’ padded hurdle trial to a winter Jumping course next year, so that it covers a full 12 month period. It is still early days, but so far the faller and injury rates in races with the ‘One-Fit’ padded hurdle are lower than the racecourse’s average. A second year of trialling allows us to increase the data we have and validate this trend. We are hopeful that this hurdle design continues to show welfare benefits and that it might become an option for all racecourses in the future.
Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the PJA, said:
The trial of the ‘One-Fit’ padded hurdle at Newton Abbot has generally been well received amongst jockeys. As a result of this feedback, and given the early signs of a beneficial effect on faller and injury rates, we fully support the new hurdles being used next season at Newton Abbot, on a continued trial basis.
The trial has been extended following the approval of funding from BHA’s Grant Scheme, the mechanism set up to distribute a share of the proceeds from the sale of the Tote to worthwhile projects in, or associated with the British thoroughbred Racing and Breeding industries.