The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has confirmed that the 3-pound Covid-19 allowance will be replaced by a 2-pound increase, with the 3-pound back protector allowance moving to a 4-pound jockey safety allowance.
The changes, which come into effect on Monday May 2, follow further discussions with the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), the National Trainers Federation (NTF) and a number of flat and jump jockeys.
Several leading jockeys had criticized the BHA over new rules announced in January to increase minimum weights after racecourse saunas were permanently closed.
But the further increase in published weights and the introduction of a 4lb safety allowance means horses will continue to carry the same weights they have been carrying since the Covid allowance which was introduced as an emergency measure in June 2020.
The 1lb safety allowance will be added to the 3lb allowance which offsets the weight of a jockey’s back protector.
According to the BHA, this increased safety allowance of 4 pounds is intended to help jockeys manage the natural daily variations in their body weight and support their physical and mental well-being.
PJA jumps chairman David Bass said: “Naturally I would have preferred to keep the full allowance as I have seen such a positive impact on the welfare of the jockeys, however, after further discussions, I’m glad we kept some of the allocation with increased weights.
“I am convinced that the new structure offers everyone the same opportunities while maintaining the recent progress on the well-being of jockeys”
PJ McDonald, Chairman of PJA Flat, added: “I am delighted that the BHA and NTF have been open to further discussions, we have found a solution and we look forward to continuing in the year ahead.”
Richard Wayman, BHA Chief Operating Officer, said: “During these discussions, runners highlighted the psychological benefits that the Covid allowance provided by allowing them to manage the natural fluctuations in their body weight that occur day-to-day Many have said retaining at least some of that flexibility is as important to their well-being as any increase in weight.
“We also recognise, however, that the decision to introduce temporary Covid indemnity has had a number of other consequences. Customers rightly expect transparency and accurate information, and indemnity means that the horses carried nearly half a stone more than the weights published in race cards and what is recorded in historical records.
“The additional 1lb safety allowance will also provide riders with some flexibility to manage day-to-day variations in their body weight.
“We are grateful to the NTF for their continued participation in these discussions and for their acceptance of a revision of the original, agreed outcome of the consultation.
“Finally, the welfare of our riders is a key priority, and we will continue to work with the PJA and its members to support the welfare of jockeys. Modernization of weigh rooms as part of a long-term program improvement works for the modernization of facilities at all UK racecourses has already been announced and in addition the issue of race weights will remain under regular review.”
The National Coaches Federation also issued the following statement: “It was understood that any discussion of the replacement of the temporary Covid-19 allowance would be difficult, with differing opinions evident both inside and outside of our organization.
“Although we believe that reflection is needed on the issues that caused the consultation process here to fail in the first place, although it appears to be fully respected, we accept the outcome that has finally been achieved.”