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Padded hurdles to be introduced at all Jockey Club-owned jumps tracks

Padded hurdles to be introduced at all Jockey Club-owned jumps tracks
Padded hurdles to be introduced at all Jockey Club-owned jumps tracks

The Jockey Club has reacted to compelling data regarding the safety of runners by moving to introduce padded hurdles at all 11 of its racecourses which stage National Hunt fixtures.

Such obstacles have been used at Exeter, Market Rasen and Wincanton in recent years and statistics from the Industry Jump Racing Risk Model are reported to have been very positive.

An 11 per cent reduction in the risk of falling in races run over padded hurdles compared to birch ones has been noted during an initiative managed by the Horse Welfare Board.

Racecourse officials, vets and trainers have also provided clear and consistent feedback that minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes and lacerations are substantially reduced.

Wincanton Races – Friday 12th January
Runners clearing a padded hurdle at Wincanton (Andrew Matthews/PA).

All remaining Jockey Club racecourses staging jump meetings, including Cheltenham and Aintree, will make the transition to padded hurdles over the next two seasons, with the process to be completed by the start of the 2026-27 season.

Jon Pullin, the group’s head of racing and clerk of the course at Cheltenham, said: “Following extensive research and analysis, it is evident that padded hurdles provide a safer alternative to traditional birch hurdles, while still presenting the same jumping challenge and spectacle for racing fans.

“Having been successfully utilised at some of our racecourses from as far back as 2016, we feel it is the right decision to deploy padded hurdles at all 11 of the Jockey Club’s racecourses which stage Jump racing.

“This process will require significant investment by the Jockey Club and will be completed in time for the start of the 2026-27 season.”

Carlisle, Haydock, Huntingdon, Kempton, Sandown and Warwick are the other tracks affected.

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