New hurdle on show ahead of Newton Abbot summer jumps debut
Somerset handler Paul Nicholls was among the first to see a new hurdle design close up when it was on view at Taunton's race meeting yesterday.
The new "one-fit" padded hurdle will be used throughout Newton Abbot's summer jumping programme in a bid to further improve safety and reduce injuries.
The modified hurdle design has been researched and developed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and will be first used at Newton Abbot's meeting on March 30.
The new design consists of a standard timber hurdle frame, with a specially fitted foam pad frontage rather than the traditional birch.
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It is being trialled as part of the BHA's commitment to maximising the safety of both horses and jockeys.
It has been tested extensively over the past 18 months, including periods on two major training schooling grounds, as well as extended sessions with several leading jumps trainers.
Patrick Masterson, managing director of Newton Abbot Racecourse, said: "We are extremely excited at the new hurdle design both from a horse welfare perspective and the positive support it is receiving from both the National Trainers Federation and Professional Jockeys Association.
"Newton Abbot are delighted to support this trial for our forthcoming season and hope this ongoing development process is well received and supported."
Jockey Andrew Thornton, one of the Professional Jockeys Association's safety officers, said: "The PJA is supportive of anything that has the potential to benefit the welfare of the sport's participants, and we therefore welcome this trial.
"If the new design can lead to fewer falls and fewer injuries for horses, then it can only be a positive thing for the welfare of jockeys."
Richard Linley, senior inspector of courses at the BHA, said: "This trial is key to whether the design is adopted at other courses in the years ahead."
The new-look hurdle will next be on view at Exeter racecourse on Tuesday, March 5.