Horsemen today expressed excitement for the 2016 return of The Jockey Club Grassroots Series, which launches on Saturday at Nottingham Racecourse and culminates with £50,000-worth of finals at the Colwick Park track in September.
Run as part of The Jockey Club's ongoing commitment to support all levels of British Racing, the Grassroots Series aims to provide opportunities for mid-tier horses to compete for considerable prize money.
The Jockey Club-backed Series features 36 Class 4 and 5 qualifying handicap races during the 2016 Flat season staged at its eight Flat courses: Carlisle, Epsom Downs, Haydock Park, Kempton Park, Newmarket July Course, Newmarket Rowley Mile, Nottingham and Sandown Park. The climax at Nottingham on Wednesday 28th September features two £25,000 finals – a Sprint handicap final over 6 furlongs and a Middle Distance handicap contest over 1 mile 2 furlongs.
To gain eligibility to compete in the finals a horse simply needs to participate in at least one of the respective qualifying races.
Jockey Club Racecourses, which reinvests all its profits back into British Racing, has announced plans to make its largest-ever financial contribution of £20.9 million (subject to abandonments), following its current record £19.9 million contribution in 2015. This took its reinvestment into the sport to £415 million over the last decade, predominantly through prize money and new and improved facilities for customers and participants.
Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses
, said: "I'm pleased horsemen are looking forward to our 2016 Grassroots Series. It's really important we support all levels of British Racing and this is one of our initiatives designed to do that during the Flat season. It's also great to see how our previous Jumps Series has now expanded into the Challenger Series running across the sport and we should keep finding these new ways to support owners, trainers, jockeys and stable staff."
Horsemen backing the Series include:
Rupert Arnold, Chief Executive of the National Trainers Federation
, said: “The Grassroots Series is a great incentive and support for the horsemen who are instrumental in putting on the show day in, day out across the country. They deserve every opportunity to race for more valuable prizes, so I welcome the return of this Jockey Club Racecourses series.”
Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA)
, said: “The ROA is delighted to see the return of The Jockey Club’s Grassroots Series aimed at those horses running at Class 4 level and below. This important group of horses makes up a large proportion of the horse population and provide competitive racing for racegoers and punters alike. The cost to train a Class 4 horse is the same as a Class 1 horse, but less prize money is on offer at that level, so a nice incentive such as this for both sprinters and middle distance horses is very much welcomed by all at the ROA.”
Nottinghamshire trainer, Mick Appleby
, said: “We were lucky enough to win a Grassroots Series Final with Donny Rover in 2014. The Series is a great initiative and offers a real incentive to smaller owners with mid-level horses. We regularly support the various qualifiers, particularly at our local track, Nottingham, and we very much hope to have live contenders for this year’s finals in late September.”
Epsom-based trainer, Simon Dow
, said: "The Grassroots Series offers an exciting opportunity. Culminating in valuable finals of the respective distances, these races should feature highly on anyone's race planning radar."
Lincolnshire trainer, James Given
, said: “The Jockey Club’s Grassroots Flat Series has been and will continue to be a much needed injection of support to the middle order of horses in training in the UK. This type of series I hope will give domestic owners of the middle order of racehorses an incentive to remain as owners or indeed join the ranks of ownership in the UK. I hope more initiatives like this are set up to reward the middle order.”
Newmarket-based trainer, Chris Wall
, said: “This is a very good initiative and one we look forward to supporting with runners through the qualifying stages and hopefully the two finals, both of which have a good level of prize money to aim for. It is important to have these type of structures in place at racecourses to encourage and sustain enthusiasm from horsemen, including owners, and it is good to see consistent investment into all areas of British horseracing, rather than just the top level.”
Cheshire-based trainer, Tom Dascombe
, said: “The Jockey Club Grassroots Series is an excellent initiative that allows owners of mid-division horses to live the dream.”
Notes to Editors
The Series qualifiers are split between Class 5 races (24 qualifiers) and Class 4 (12 qualifiers). The Finals are Class 3 on account of their prize money value, but can only be contested by horses that have run in the Series at Class 4/5.