BHA looking into drafting non-runner rule changes
Changes to the rules on declaring horses as non-runners could be introduced in 2024, with year’s Epsom Dash used as an example of where stewards could have more discretion.
Four runners in the richly-endowed five-furlong sprint were impeded as their stalls opened fractionally later than the rest of the field, including that of the 6-1 favourite Live In The Moment.
The raceday stewards allowed the result to stand after concluding the four horses’ chances were not “materially impacted” by the issue, but the British Horseracing Authority has subsequently reassessed how non-runners are determined in such circumstances, as well as consulting with various parties.
On a BHA briefing call on Wednesday, director of integrity and regulatory operations Brant Dunshea explained: “We are working through a process of drafting some amendments to the rules that would enable the stewards slightly broader powers to declare a non-runner.“
In the event of the Dash for example, it would empower the stewards under those circumstances to declare the four horses that were unable to start on equal terms with the other runners as non-runners and ensure those who had bet on those runners could receive a refund.“
There is no perfect solution to this, nobody is happy with every decision all of the time, but on balance, shifting closer to the way the international model is framed is the best way of trying to deal with what are complex issues.“
What we are looking to include in the draft amendments are ensuring that where a horse is prevented from starting on equal terms with all other runners, the stewards have the powers to declare such a horse a non-runner and whilst not limiting it to only a very narrow, specific set of circumstances, we wish to include reference in the rule to where a horse’s chances are materially affected.“
We are in the drafting phase, we will write back to all those we engage with and seek their views on where we are heading and look to present any potentials changes to the rules to the BHA rules committee in the early part of next year with a view to implementing any reforms in the summer Flat season.”