The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Taunton Racecourse have today announced that it will continue the trial of the ‘One-Fit’ padded hurdle design, following two successful Summer Jumping trial periods at Newton Abbot.

The trial will take place over the full Jump season at the course, which has placed an application for funding for the trial from British Horseracing’s Grant Scheme. The Jump season at Taunton commences on Wednesday 29 October.

The first year of the trial was rolled out in Newton Abbot’s 2013 summer Jumping programme, and then extended to the full 2014 summer Jumping programme. The extension of the trial follows positive feedback from Newton Abbot racecourse, veterinary surgeons and jockeys, alongside encouraging statistical data about the performance of the hurdle in reducing faller and injury rates.

The hurdle design consists of a standard timber hurdle frame with a fitted ‘closed cell’ foam padded frontage, rather than the traditional birch, and is designed to reduce faller rates and the risk of injury for both horse and rider.

Refinements have been made to the shape, angle and outer material of the hurdle throughout the trial, following feedback from jockeys and their representative body the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), as well as Newton Abbot’s ground-staff and Richard Linley, Senior Inspector of Courses for BHA.

Bob Young, Chief Executive of Taunton Racecourse, said:

“We are delighted to be the staging ground for the trial of the ‘One-Fit’ hurdles being extended to the winter months. We have been in close contact with BHA and Newton Abbot about the hurdles and have heard only good things about the positive effect they are having on faller rates and the safety record of hurdle races at the course.”

Pat Masterson, Managing Director of Newton Abbot Racecourse, said:

“We have remained extremely pleased with the way the hurdle has performed this year at Newton Abbot. We believe that in the long term the ‘One-Fit’ padded hurdle will prove to be a safer obstacle for the welfare of the horse and jockey.

“We will monitor the extension of the trial to Taunton with interest and will continue to work with BHA with the long term objective of using this hurdle permanently at Newton Abbot Racecourse.”

As part of BHA’s commitment to maximising participant safety, both equine and human, a number of important safety and welfare improvements have been made to hurdle design in recent years, in conjunction with racecourses. The ‘One-Fit’ hurdle trial is part of this ongoing process.

Jamie Stier, Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation for BHA said:

“For the second year running the trial of the ‘One-Fit’ hurdle has produced faller and injury rates which are lower than the racecourse’s – and the national – average. Extending the trial to the winter season allows us to increase the data we have and validate this trend at a different racecourse and under different conditions.”