British Horseracing Authority chief executive Julie Harrington has expressed her delight at the positive response to this week’s new HorsePWR campaign relating to welfare in racing.

Encouraging feedback has flooded in from various sectors of the sport, with trainers, jockeys, breeders, owners and media representatives welcoming the initiative.

HorsePWR has its own dedicated website to provide information about the sport and the thoroughbred, the lives they lead and the high welfare and safety standards within racing.

In a statement on, Harrington said: “The response to our HorsePWR campaign is unprecedented for racing. For the industry to rally behind this cause with such full-throated support is immensely heartening.

“We deliberately took a bold and innovative approach to tackling welfare concerns fully aware that it carried a risk of a negative response in some quarters.

“But the way the sport has readily embraced this new concept shows just how much everyone in it recognises that perceptions around welfare are a critical issue for our future.

“It also shows that we recognise the need to be open, transparent and to tackle welfare concerns head-on.

“We should have confidence in what we do and understand that it is through education and information that we will build trust in the sport.

“We are extremely grateful to all the organisations and individuals who have supported the campaign.

“This is just the start and it is important to recognise that the impact campaigns have should never be judged on one day alone.

“We want to grow the campaign and use it to reach wider audiences. We also call on the sport to continue to promote and support the campaign as much as possible. It is in everyone’s best interest to do so.”

The website explores the areas that racing has committed to improve, such as the lives horses go on to have after racing, reducing risk on and off course and facts surrounding the whip.

Disruption to the fixture list looks set to continue into the weekend after Wetherby’s meeting on Friday became the latest to fall due to a waterlogged track.

With no sign of the current wet spell coming to an end, Southwell flew the flag for jumps racing in Britain on Thursday, with meetings at Warwick and at Clonmel in Ireland both called off.

Officials at Wetherby called an inspection for 3pm on Thursday ahead of Friday’s card and made the decision to draw stumps shortly after.

A statement on the track’s website read: “There has been insufficient improvement during the last 24 hours and the ground remains waterlogged, with false ground in several areas. A further 12-15 millimetres of rain is expected overnight Thursday into Friday morning.”

Fontwell’s Friday fixture is also under threat, with a precautionary check called for 7.30am, while Saturday’s Premier Raceday at Kelso is already in doubt.

The Borders track is due to host a high-profile card, part of which is set to be shown live on ITV, but the ground is described as heavy, waterlogged in places and an inspection will take place at 8am on Friday to assess the latest state of play.

Chelmsford’s meeting scheduled for Saturday evening has been moved to an earlier start, from 5.25pm to 2.50pm.

A statement from the British Horseracing Authority read: “In light of the current forecast for Saturday April 6, the BHA has agreed to move Chelmsford City’s fixture to a 2.50 start and rearranged the running order.

“This is in order to ensure an appropriate level of racing content for our customers on Saturday afternoon and offer potential ITV coverage to the Woodford Reserve Cardinal Conditions Stakes at 3.30 should other fixtures on Saturday be abandoned.”

British racing has launched a new campaign designed to promote and share the facts around welfare in racing.

HorsePWR will have its own dedicated website ( to provide information about the sport and the thoroughbred, the lives they lead and the high welfare and safety standards within racing.

The website explores the areas that racing has committed to improve, such as the lives after racing horses go on to have, reducing risk on and off course and facts surrounding the whip.

Grand National-winning trainer Lucinda Russell said of the new campaign: “This is just what racing needs. We must provide the facts, help educate, and confront the tough questions head on.

“The facts matter. We understand our responsibility and respect our horses, and we want to make sure the public know this too.

“It’s good to see us taking a new approach, showing pride in the lives we give our horses, and challenging and correcting inaccurate information which is put into the public domain by those who are opposed to the sport.”

Robin Mounsey, BHA head of communications and member of the sport’s Horse Welfare Board, said: “The HorsePWR campaign sees the sport take a new approach when it comes to talking about welfare.

“It is about being up-front, open, and transparent. It is about tackling head-on the elements of the sport that we know are areas of concern and providing information to educate and reassure.

“Those who work in the sport are rightly proud of our record and standards when it comes to welfare. This campaign provides a platform to allow those connected with the sport to share their pride.

“It will be aimed at racing’s current and potential fans, seeking to ensure that future generations of racing followers are not lost to the sport due to negative perceptions around the welfare issues which are tackled by this campaign.

“HorsePWR has received significant support from across the racing industry, and we are especially grateful to the Jockey Club for providing additional funding to support the initial stage of the campaign.”

Further adjustments to the National Hunt programme have been “under discussion” as the British Horseracing Authority seeks to improve competitiveness within that sphere.

A total of 300 jumps races and 20 jumps meetings were removed from the 2024 fixture list as part of a package of initiatives focussed on increasing field sizes.

However, the BHA’s director of racing and betting Richard Wayman reports that while the numbers of runners for all-weather meetings on the Flat in the first three months of the year have been pleasing, National Hunt numbers have not reached similar heights.

While citing the wet winter as a possible reason for a lack of competition, Wayman admits jump racing is “short of where we want it to be”.

He said: “It is a mixed picture. If we wanted to look at it positively, on the all-weather through the winter our Flat fixtures have generated probably more competitive racing than we have had for a long time.

“If we look at the percentage of races that have attracted eight runners, you’ve got to go back to 2007 to find the sort of percentage we have achieved in the first three months of this year.

“Obviously, jumping isn’t where we want it to be and we continue to face our challenges with the competitiveness of jump racing. The numbers for jump racing on core fixtures are around 47 per cent, a little bit better at the Premier meetings but either way that is short of where we want it to be.

“I think we haven’t been helped by the ground conditions that we have faced through the first three months of this year – 78 per cent of races have been run on soft or heavy ground compared to 44 or 43 per cent in the last two years, it just demonstrates how wet it has been and that clearly will have had an impact on field sizes.

“However, it is important to stress we’re not using that as an excuse, I think that has been a factor in where we are this year but the challenges we face with jump racing competitiveness are beyond just the fact we’ve had a wet three months.

“We’ve introduced measures this year, we made changes to the programme, we took out 300 races through the year and some will have fallen in the first quarter. It is certainly under discussion whether we need to go further for 2025 in an attempt to make racing more competitive at this time next year than it has been in the last few months.

“Having said that, in our view, you can’t just keep reducing fixtures and/or races with a view to making jump racing more competitive. There are more fundamental issues that as a sport we are going to need to tackle to try to support the long-term future of jump racing.

“We are looking at that and I think we will need to introduce further measures beyond race volume to try to support the future of jump racing longer term.”

During a briefing call, the BHA’s director of communications and corporate affairs Greg Swift confirmed discussions remain ongoing with the Betting and Gaming Council over a reform of the levy, with gambling minister Stuart Andrew due to issue an update later this month.

Swift said: “Meetings are accelerated between BGC and DCMS – in fact, I had a meeting with them this morning.

“We will have at least two next week and we had two last week and there are conversations and meetings that take place outside of those formal arrangements with DCMS at which the minister is trying to bring us closer to an agreed position.

“We continue to work at pace, in good faith on all sides. We are not there yet but we will keep our shoulder to the wheel to try to get an arrangement agreed with the sports minister in time for him to update the house on April 24.”

Derek Fox will not miss the ride on Corach Rambler in the Randox Grand National, despite potentially breaching the whip guidelines at Newcastle on Tuesday, the British Horseracing Authority has said.

Corach Rambler provided Fox and trainer Lucinda Russell with a second victory in the Aintree spectacular last season, with the pair having also successfully combined with One For Arthur in 2017.

Following an excellent effort in defeat when third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup two weeks ago, Corach Rambler is the clear favourite to successfully defend his crown on Merseyside on April 13 – and despite speculation to the contrary, Fox looks set to be in the plate once more.

Reports on Thursday suggested the Sligo-born jockey could be in trouble with the Whip Review Committee following his winning ride aboard the Russell-trained Clovis Boy at Newcastle on Tuesday.

However, while the BHA confirmed the ride was being reviewed, and a penalty may yet therefore follow, any potential suspension will not kick in until the week after the National.

The BHA does not normally comment regarding which riders may or may not have been referred, but has done so on this occasion, stating: “Given the speculation in the media in this instance, and the potential ramifications for the public betting on this race, we felt it would be helpful to clarify the situation.”

A BHA spokesperson said: “The WRC today considered a ride by Mr Fox at Newcastle on Tuesday. Upon reviewing the ride, the WRC had further questions for Mr Fox and have written to him today to seek his observations, as is outlined in the protocols and procedures around WRC meetings.

“As a result, Mr Fox’s case will be considered by the WRC on Tuesday, April 2. Any potential penalty arising from this ride, therefore, will not come into effect until Tuesday, April 16.”

Corach Rambler is currently the 4-1 favourite for National glory with William Hill, who report he has been incredibly popular with punters.

Spokesperson Lee Phelps said: “Corach Rambler’s run in the Gold Cup looked a perfect prep for his defence of the Grand National, and our customers agree as he has been absolutely hammered in the betting since the run at Cheltenham.

“He wasn’t a bad result prior to that, but the weight of money in the last couple of weeks has been so significant that he’d be the worst ante-post result this century. At this stage, we would take anything to beat him, but the way the money is going suggests he’s going to be incredibly hard to beat.”

Coral have also cut him to the same price from 5-1 after strong support, with David Stevens commenting: “Corach Rambler was 12-1 for a repeat National success prior to his Gold Cup run, and 8-1 immediately after that Cheltenham placing, so punters have plenty of confidence in the Lucinda Russell-trained star joining an elite group of dual Aintree winners next month.”

British Horseracing Authority chief executive Julie Harrington has warned the dominance of Irish trainers at the Cheltenham Festival is “damaging” for the sport.

Irish handlers won 18 of the 27 races across the four days, with 12 of the 14 Grade One contests also going their way and Willie Mullins accounting for eight of those on his own among an overall tally of nine winners for the Closutton team – a total which also took him over 100 Festival winners.

Dan Skelton flew the flag for Britain by sending out four winners, including a memorable top-level double with Ryanair Chase victor Protektorat and Turners Novices’ Chase hero Grey Dawning on Thursday, with Ben Pauling, Paul Nicholls, Kim Bailey, Jeremy Scott and Fiona Needham also getting on the scoresheet.

While Harrington praised those achievements, she feels the Irish supremacy is “becoming more pronounced”.

She said: “I would like to offer my congratulations to every winner this week, and everyone connected with those horses. We again tip our hat to the Irish, and in particular Willie Mullins whose achievement in reaching 100+ Festival winners is truly remarkable.

“Congratulations also go to the British trainers who secured winners this week, in particular Dan Skelton for his impressive haul.

“I have no doubt that the men and women who train horses here in Britain are more than a match for their Irish counterparts. However, they need the ammunition and at present the balance of power and the best horses are going to our colleagues in Ireland, and in particular one yard.

“This is not a new issue. The direction of travel has been set for a number of years now. The sport has been alive to this and taken measures to seek to address it, through attempting to tackle funding issues associated with the sport, seeking increased investment, looking at the race programme, and more recently the delivery of the recommendations of the Quality Jump Racing Review.

“However, the Irish domination of the Grade One races this week has illustrated that the issue is becoming more pronounced and more damaging for the sport on both sides of the Irish sea.”

Following a nightmare Festival for the home side in 2021 which saw just five winners for British trainers, the BHA set up the review group which made a series of recommendations that were unveiled at the start of 2022, with further tweaks to the fixture list this term in an attempt to improve the upper tier of British National Hunt racing.

However, Harrington concedes more now needs to be done and at a faster pace to ensure no further ground is lost.

She said: “Put simply, the rate of decline of jump racing in Britain at the top end has outstripped the measures that have been put in place to tackle it. We must do more, more quickly, and in a more coordinated and decisive manner if we are going to restore British jump racing to the standing at which it belongs.

“Central to this is the delivery of the industry strategy. The strategy is all about growth. At the core of this is investment in the top echelons of our sport, with a view to incentivising the best horses to be bred, owned, trained and raced on these shores. An additional £3.8million in prize-money has already been earmarked for investment in 2024 across the top end of the sport in both codes.

“The strategy is also about much more than just investing in prize money. We need to grow our fanbase by encouraging new fans and retaining existing fans and owners, improve the experience of ownership and attending and viewing racing, and much more besides.

“To achieve this the sport must work together with urgency and clarity of purpose. The times of being reluctant to embrace change or new ideas, lack of transparency and focusing on narrow self-interest must be put firmly behind us.”

Talks are currently ongoing between the BHA and bookmakers on levy reform, which Harrington believes is another key factor in improving British fortunes in the future.

She concluded: “The very visible deterioration in British racing’s competitiveness with our international colleagues has also been at the heart of our discussions with the betting industry and DCMS around the levy, and our representations to Government around the risk of the damaging impact of affordability checks.

“We have seen great progress in the last 18 months and a spirit of collaboration is clearly developing. I am confident that if the sport and its allies work together around this shared goal then it can flourish once again. Not just across four days in March, but across the whole year. Jump racing’s popularity in Britain is immense and its potential limitless.”

Cheltenham’s cross-country course will have to pass an 8am inspection on Wednesday if the Glenfarclas Chase is to go ahead that afternoon.

Overnight rain has resulted in further easing of the going ahead of the start of the 2024 Festival, with the ground currently described as soft, heavy in places on the main course while the cross-country track is waterlogged in places.

A statement from Cheltenham said: “Following six millimetres of rainfall overnight, which is a significant change from the 2mm-4mm initially forecast, and with a further 4mm-6mm forecast today, there will now be an inspection on the cross-country course at 8am tomorrow. The cross-country course is currently waterlogged in places.

“In the unfortunate event that the cross-country course fails tomorrow’s inspection, we are working alongside the British Horseracing Authority on a contingency plan for the Glenfarclas Chase to be run on Friday, Gold Cup Day.

“We will keep everyone informed as and when decisions have been made.”

A furious Kieran O’Neill was given the all-clear to resume riding on Wednesday, having been prevented from taking his rides at Southwell on Tuesday in an incident which has put the British Horseracing Authority’s trial of saliva and sweat testing in the spotlight.

O’Neill had three mounts booked at the Nottinghamshire track’s evening meeting, but was unable to take part after being stood down by the BHA following a failed saliva test.

And while a subsequent urine test returned a negative result, O’Neill – who swiftly took to social media to speak of his anger, saying he was “fuming” – was not permitted to ride before passing another test ahead of racing at Kempton and feels his reputation has been unfairly tarnished.

He told Sky Sports Racing: “I was the one to comment, to put my tweet out that I have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide. I wanted to be the one when I got home to write a tweet and let everyone know. I have nothing to hide, I have not done anything wrong here and something needs to be done very quickly.

“It is very embarrassing for me to have to leave the racecourse yesterday and everyone is there looking at you. The first person I bumped into was Scott Dixon and I have to go and explain myself why I can’t ride for him.

“I was so embarrassed speaking to my partner on the phone last night, speaking to my mum, this has now happened and even when I’m cleared from this urine sample and things are back to normal, my name is still out there, I have failed this swab test twice yesterday.

“It’s something that for a young kid coming into the game of 17 or 18, he could fail a swab test and his career is over straight away before it starts.

“My urine test will come back clear, I have no doubts about that in my mind. I rarely drink, never mind take drugs. Everyone who knows me and knows my character knows I’m the first person to be anti-drugs.

“I really cannot see how this has happened. Is there something wrong with the salivas again? For me yes, because I have done nothing wrong, I have never taken a drug in my life and I am clear.”

A saliva test pilot was paused by the BHA in September 2022 after Sean Levey returned a false positive that saw him sidelined for eight days and miss out on a potential £20,000 bonus as leading rider during the Racing League.

O’Neill added: “Sean said if this doesn’t go then someone else is going to get done, but never in a million years did I think it would be me. Sean Levey got it right, it’s come back and it’s me. Have the BHA got it wrong again? I don’t know.

“But I agree with Sean Levey and for me something has gone amiss. I have no problem doing any test, they can take hair, another urine from me, that is no problem. I have been tested in France and probably 20 times last year and nothing has ever been found, but now all of a sudden since the swab tests have come back, something was found.”

Posting an update on X, he said: “Just been to Kempton to have another swab test after last night’s embarrassment. Given the all-clear as expected. Thankfully the current testing system has now been paused until they get to the bottom of this.”

Professional Jockeys Association chief executive Paul Struthers said the body was “unaware” a new trial had been introduced until Tuesday evening and immediately requested the procedure be put on hold pending further investigation.

He said: “We have been discussing with the BHA a pilot of trialling a new saliva and sweat testing kit since January, following the two previous trials of different testing kits. However, no dates for the pilot had been agreed and we were told what the protocol would be in the event of a non-negative test, which is very different to agreeing it.

“Issues that arose during the previous two pilot schemes meant that the PJA and its members had legitimate concerns about the testing kits and the process.

“At our last meeting with the BHA on February 23, we stressed these concerns and explained how important communications would be in advance of any pilot. What was agreed at that meeting was that the BHA would draft some initial communications materials which would be shared with the PJA for further comment.

“This never happened and we were therefore unaware until last night that the pilot had even commenced.

“Following events of last night, this morning we wrote to the BHA requesting an immediate suspension of the pilot scheme. The BHA has subsequently confirmed that no further testing with the swab and saliva kits will take place until the situation with Kieran O’Neill has been resolved and understood.

“This is a sensible decision in the best interests of fair regulation, a decision we obviously support and welcome. The rest of the testing regime will continue as normal.”

The BHA insists the procedure is sound, with rider safety “a priority” for racing’s regulator, and that the process for handling non-negative samples had been agreed with the PJA.

A statement said: “The process for handling non-negative samples on raceday as part of the ongoing pilot of sweat/saliva sampling was agreed between the BHA and PJA.

“As part of the agreed process, which utilises a Home Office-approved testing kit used by police forces globally, should a rider return a non-negative sample then they will be tested a second time.

“Should the second sample also return non-negative then, in the interests of safety for horses and riders, the jockey should be stood down for the day.

“Mr O’Neill was stood down on the day having provided two non-negative samples. Sixteen jockeys were tested yesterday and 16 on Monday with only Mr O’Neill returning these two non-negative samples.

“As part of the process a urine sample screening is also be taken on the day. This is for indicative processes only as part of the trial. It operates to different thresholds, and does not form part of the immediate regulatory process. Mr O’Neill’s urine sample returned a negative result on-course but is not relevant to his being able to ride today and beyond.

“This same urine sample is also sent away for analysis at the official testing laboratory. Mr O’Neill will be permitted to ride today and beyond, pending the return of this urine result, provided he returns a negative sweat/saliva sample prior to weighing out. A hair sample will also be taken.

“Ensuring the safety of jockeys competing in our sport is a priority for the BHA. We appreciate the strength of feeling from Mr O’Neill but this alone is not enough to make judgement about the testing process, or its ability to detect the intentional or sometimes inadvertent presence of substances in a rider’s system. The proper process must be allowed to take its course.”

British Horseracing Authority chief executive Julie Harrington will not be pushing the panic button just yet should Ireland once again dominate at next week’s Cheltenham Festival.

Following a nightmare Festival for the home side in 2021 which saw just five winners for British trainers, the BHA set up the Quality Jump Racing Review Group, with a stated aim “to strengthen the performance of British jump racing at the top end of the pyramid”.

A series of recommendations was then unveiled at the start of 2022, with further tweaks to the fixture list this term in an attempt to improve the upper tier of British National Hunt racing.

Harrington says it is too early to really see those initiatives come to fruition, but with Triumph Hurdle favourite Sir Gino the only British-trained ante-post Grade One market leader throughout next week, with Willie Mullins holding a tremendously strong hand on all four days, the issue remains a high-profile one.

She said: “We’re well aware of the number of Irish favourites across all the days. It is early days and there’s interventions all the way through breeding in terms of incentives for British-bred, retaining your horse here in training, but we’re not naive.

“We know the decision of many owners to place their horses with what they would consider in-form trainers. When you speak to the top British-based trainers, they do understand it is often cyclical which is why the fact it’s early days, you do need to let some of the interventions play out a bit more.

“Is it something we continue to be concerned about and continue to have a watching brief on? Of course. It’s been well debated some of the interventions or potential interventions that we’ve consulted on, but we will continue to do so.”

Talks are currently ongoing between the BHA and bookmakers on levy reform and Greg Swift, director of communications and corporate affairs, believes the issue of competitiveness is ultimately linked to the levy.

“It’s a valid point. It brings us back to the need for levy reform,” he said.

“One of the cases that we have made to DCMS throughout the entire process around the need for levy reform is around the competitive issue and making sure that we have enough money flowing into the sport to maintain Britain’s competitiveness and our position at the top table.

“That is one of the things we will continue to press.”

Governing bodies in Britain and Ireland have pledged to pull together to enforce a “zero tolerance” policy on doping in horseracing.

The British Horseracing Authority and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board will combine resources to formally continue stepping up levels of out of competition testing across both jurisdictions.

To kick off the new anti-doping and medication control initiative, almost 250 samples were taken from more than 120 horses that are entered for the Cheltenham Festival in an operation across 14 training premises in Ireland.

While any tests will be subject to individual IHRB or BHA protocols relating to the relevant region they are taken in, there will be a transparent exchange of any adverse results or findings that arise.

All samples will be tested by LGC Laboratory, one of six laboratories worldwide which is recognised as a referenced laboratory by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.

BHA director of equine regulation, safety and welfare James Given said: “The BHA welcomes the collaboration with the IHRB to demonstrate to stakeholders and the public that horses running from either side of the Irish sea in each other’s races do so under the same level of scrutiny.

“Not only will our Medication Control and Anti-Doping (MCAD) team have access to more information about visiting horses, but there will be opportunities for our wider team to share ideas and best practice in other areas of our work.

“Like the IHRB, this is aligned with our aims around international collaboration, the response to racecourse accidents and the overall improvement of equine safety and welfare.”

IHRB chief veterinary officer Dr Lynn Hillyer commented: “The IHRB Strategy 2024-2027 commits us to close engagement with international horseracing bodies and benchmarking ourselves against best international practice.

“This new venture shows stakeholders and the racing public that we collaborate as professionals across both sides of the Irish Sea, sharing best practice and resources and demonstrating equally stringent regulatory processes and standards to the extent that our anti-doping and medication control programmes are interoperable.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with our BHA colleagues in this way and see it as a positive step forward that reinforces the point that there is no room for anything other than the highest standards of integrity and welfare in either jurisdiction.”

The British Horseracing Authority has welcomed the “valuable contributions” made by several ministers in Monday’s parliamentary debate into affordability checks.

It was the first chance for MPs to properly interrogate proposals of the implementation of the supposedly “frictionless” checks after 100,000 people signed an e-petition to trigger the debate.

Matt Hancock, who has Newmarket within his constituency, Connor McGinn, whose St Helens North constituency includes Haydock, and Philip Davies were among MPs to lay out arguments against the checks during the debate at Westminster Hall, and the BHA’s chief executive Julie Harrington was encouraged by the discussions.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Harrington said: “Yesterday’s debate on the impact of affordability checks on British racing has shone a light on a hugely important issue for our sport.

“It was vital that MPs were given proper parliamentary time to thoroughly interrogate the government’s proposals and we were encouraged by the high turnout for a Westminster Hall debate.

“Many MPs made valuable contributions to the debate, and we are sure that Sports Minister Stuart Andrew will have listened with interest to the views expressed.

“From MPs of all parties and all sides of the debate, there was a clear recognition of the need for the government to protect and support British racing when reviewing gambling legislation.

“If our sport is to remain a healthy industry, supporting jobs in the rural economy and remaining competitive with our international rivals, we hope that government will heed this advice.

“We were encouraged by Minister Andrew ruling out the use of job titles and postcodes in the implementation of enhanced spending checks and confirming that these changes will at least be subject to a genuine pilot.

“We will continue to make the case into the heart of government that the impact of these checks both on our industry and racing bettors needs to be carefully considered and look forward to further discussions on this important issue for British racing with the Gambling Commission and DCMS.”

In Monday’s debate, Andrew said both the government and Gambling Commission had listened to the points raised, although the proposals will proceed, with a pilot of enhanced checks running for “a minimum of four months, during which time the commission will consider all issues that arise”.

Andrew also underlined the concerns about the possible impact of the checks on racing are being taken “extremely seriously”.

The British Horseracing Authority has lifted its recently-imposed exclusion order imposed on suspended rider Dylan Kitts for failing to comply with an investigation.

The jockey finished third aboard Hillsin at Worcester in July last year and was referred by the raceday stewards for the ride, with the horse banned from running for 40 days and eventually moved to another stable at the request of Chris Honour, who trained him at the time.

The BHA subsequently suspended Kitts, preventing him from taking rides or attending racecourses, and earlier this week added a disciplinary officer exclusion order to his sanction for “failing to provide relevant information requested by the BHA’s integrity team as part of an ongoing investigation”.

The order would prevent Kitts from attending any racing premises, including yards, and from communicating with people involved in the sport.

However, on Friday the BHA announced the order had been lifted after the rider provided the information requested, although Kitts remains suspended.

A statement from the governing body said: “The BHA can today confirm that it is now in receipt of relevant information requested by the integrity team as part of an ongoing investigation involving Mr Dylan Kitts.

“As a result of this information being provided, the disciplinary officer exclusion order issued earlier this week, which was imposed after multiple previous deadlines had been missed, has been lifted.

“Mr Kitts remains suspended from race riding while the investigation continues.”

Leading Randox Grand National contender Monbeg Genius will not be affected by a restraint order placed on the assets of owners Baroness Michelle Mone and her husband Doug Barrowman, the British Horseracing Authority has confirmed.

Assets linked to the couple have been frozen, as a National Crime Agency investigation into PPE firm Medpro continues.

According to the Financial Times, about £75million of assets, including a townhouse in Belgravia and an estate on the Isle of Man, have either been frozen or restrained following an application by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The Jonjo O’Neill-trained Monbeg Genius, officially owned by Barrowman Racing Limited, was third behind Corach Rambler and Fastorslow in the Ultima Handicap at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and was last seen finishing in the same position in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury in early December.

He has since missed potential outings in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow and the Classic Chase at Warwick due to a setback.

The BHA said last month it was looking into how a court order would affect the couple’s equine string and they have now been cleared to race.

A statement released by the ruling body on Friday read: “Having been made aware of a restraint order on a number of assets belonging to Michelle Mone and Doug Barrowman, the BHA liaised with relevant parties in order to understand the potential implications this had for their involvement in racing.

“Following these discussions, the BHA can confirm that horses in the ownership of Barrowman Racing Ltd are not affected by the restraint order and are therefore permitted to continue to race.”

O’Neill said last month he hoped Monbeg Genius would come right in time for Aintree, but that he would need a run beforehand to make the cut for the race, which this year will have a reduced field of 34 runners.

His ante-post price for the National on April 13 ranges from 14-1 to 20-1.

No changes are imminent to the handicap system in Britain in relation to capping the number of runners a trainer can have in a race, the British Horseracing Authority has said.

As had been suggested in reports at the time, the ruling body consulted stakeholders to garner their views regarding the possibility of limiting the amount of runners a trainer could declare in Class 1 or Class 2 handicaps to four.

If such a rule change was introduced, it would clearly have a major impact on the Randox Grand National at Aintree, as well as several handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival.

Gordon Elliott made headlines when saddling the vast majority of the field in the Troytown Chase at Navan in November, winning it with Coko Beach.

BHA chief operating officer Richard Wayman said: “As we said at the time, on occasion the BHA will seek views of industry participants on a range of issues.

“In this case, prompted in part by the situation where one trainer saddled 14 of the 20 runners in the Troytown Chase in Ireland, we gathered opinions on a topic which is sometimes debated across the sport, regarding potentially imposing a limit on the number of runners one trainer can run in a major handicap. The issue was discussed in the context of sustaining the sport’s ongoing appeal to customers.

“Having considered the feedback and discussed the matter at the sport’s commercial committee and BHA board it has been agreed not to take any immediate action in regards to this matter, but to keep the issue under review.”

Mark Bird, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s handicapper, has spoken of a “slightly worrying trend” as the number of horses to make the juvenile classifications dropped to a new low in 2023.

Horse have to achieve a mark of at least 110 to feature on the coveted list, which was this year dominated by the 125-rated City Of Troy.

While Bird lauded the champion, he believes the fact that only 36 contenders made the cut last term is a concern, with the number of British and French-trained runners both taking a notable dip.

He said: “We have 36 horses in the classification this year, 27 colts and nine fillies. That is the lowest total there’s ever been in terms of the international classifications for two-year-olds since it began in 1978. Our previous low was 40.

“Looking at the trends going back over the years, the average even starting this century back in 2000, was about 48 and we’re down this year, so that’s a 25 per cent drop. That begs the question are the horses still around, are they not being campaigned and what is the reason behind that.

“The decline has been marked and notable, particularly in the last decade when the numbers have slipped. That’s something we noticed, certainly in the last number of years and particularly this year where it is a record low.

“In terms of identifying where the fall off has been, I think the number of Irish-trained two-year-olds largely thanks to Ballydoyle has remained relatively stable. There has been a drop off, certainly over the last 20 years in France, and more recently there has been quite a drop off in British-trained two-year-olds.”

Seeking to explain the trend, Bird highlighted the lacklustre campaign endured by Charlie Appleby’s team, with the Godolphin trainer usually a powerhouse in the division, but also highlighted the commercial opportunities for a well-regarded maiden winner on the international market.

He added: “Obviously we have a lack of Godolphin-owned horses on the classification this year, John and Thady Gosden have two horses on it but there are gaps this year that might perhaps explain why it’s so low, but in overall terms I suppose it’s a slightly worrying trend.

“We have a high-class champion this year and there are a number of good horses, particularly in terms of Ballydoyle, but the overall landscape may give some cause for concern given the low numbers.

“This century the average number of French runners to now has been about seven and it’s down to four this year, the average of British-trained runners in the classification is 24 down to 17 this year, the average Irish representation since 2000 has been about 15 and it’s 15 this year, so certainly a fall in terms of numbers in France and Britain.

“I think what is essentially keeping Ireland afloat is Coolmore and their strong representation.

“It does bring up the issue of whether the two-year-olds are there, are they not being campaigned or are they being sold to the Middle East or Hong Kong. Domestically, a maiden winner in Ireland, almost immediately you get a call asking what it’s going to be rated because somebody wants to sell it or buy it.

“Over the course of the last 20 years I think that does have an impact in terms of the number of horses we have in this classification and it’s just the reality of life really.”

Graeme Smith, the British Horseracing Authority’s handicapping team leader, is inclined to think the contraction of British-trained stars is a “blip”, pointing to wide-margin big-race winners having an impact.

He said: “I do wonder if this year is a blip for Britain because the last few years we have had 21, 26 and 25, it’s just 17 this year. The obvious absence of Godolphin two-year-olds, I think Charlie Appleby has got one on the list in Ancient Wisdom, there’s got to be a lot of talent bubbling under in that stable and the same with John and Thady Gosden.

“We have had some wide-margin winners of some of our biggest races which enables us to rate the winners high, but the placed horses, it’s difficult to get a big rating on them when they have been beaten so far.

“We have also had a lot of races with really condensed finishes as well and when you start putting elevated figures on the winner and the second, all of sudden you have the seventh and eighth rated 110 which is unrealistic.”

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