Great Bets

Helping You Find Your Next Bet

Horse Racing

Premier Handicaps: BHA Confirms Jumps Racing Shake-Up with New Race Classifications

Eye of Racehorse in ProfileA desire to level the playing field with Irish racing has led to a major overhaul of the way in which British jumps races are to be classified.

The BHA have confirmed that listed handicap races will be removed from the National Hunt Pattern entirely, and either promoted to Grade 2 or 3 status or demoted to Class 2 status.

Grade 3 handicaps have also been renamed as Premier Handicaps, with the emphasis on creating greater prize money and interest in the ‘third tier’ of jumps racing behind Grades 1 and 2.

British racing has come under fire for its relatively weak performance against Irish raiders at the major meetings such as the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree’s Grand National weekender. At the former, Ireland have won the Prestbury Cup in six of the last seven years, with a tie in 2019 the only crumb of comfort for domestic stakeholders in the sport.

The 2021 humbling, which saw Ireland win 23 of the 28 races held, was the last straw for some, and the BHA decided to take action by setting up the Jump Pattern Committee, via which the likes of Paul Nicholls and Emma Lavelle have had their say on the future of British racing.

Commenting on the classification changes, BHA director of racing development Ruth Quinn said:

“Work is underway to strengthen the performance in the upper tier of British Jump racing. This is focusing specifically on the size and shape of the Pattern and the financial reward for owners for competing in our highest-level contests.”

What are This Season’s Major Premier Handicaps?

Desktop Calendar with Colourful Pins

As part of the classification changes, a handful of listed handicaps have been promoted to Grade 3, i.e. Premier Handicap, status.

Those include the Byrne Group Handicap Chase, won by Thyme White at Ascot in October, and the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.

And then there’s the Grade 3 renewals that have simply been given the Premier Handicap name. They get underway in November with the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, with the Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at Haydock Park handing the big-lunged a chance to show they can stay the 2m 7f course.

December sees the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow just after Christmas, while before the Yuletide festivities there’s the gruelling Coral Gold Cup, Becher Chase and Betfair Handicap Chase, run over 3m 2f at Newbury, Aintree and Cheltenham respectively.

The new year will kick off with the Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Cheltenham, which Festival fans will be watching with interest, while later in January comes the Holloway’s Hurdle at Ascot.

February sees the Betfair Hurdle and Grand National Trial, before March is rung in with a catalogue of Premier Handicap renewals at the Cheltenham Festival: seven races, including the Ultima Handicap Chase, the Coral Cup and the Grand Annual Chase, will be run as Premier Handicaps for the first time in 2023.

Even as the National Hunt campaign begins to wind down in the spring, there’s no shortage of Premier Handicaps to enjoy in April. The Grand National and Scottish Grand National are the pick of the bunch, alongside the Topham Chase and Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.

A full list of Premier Handicaps for the 2022/23 jump racing season can be found below.

Date Race Course Previous Classification
28/10/2022 bet365Handicap Chase Wetherby Listed
29/10/2022 Byrne Group Handicap Chase Ascot Listed
29/10/2022 Bateaux London Gold Cup Ascot Grade 3
05/11/2022 Badger Beer Handicap Chase Wincanton Listed
12/11/2022 Paddy Power Gold Cup Cheltenham Grade 3
13/11/2022 Jewson Handicap Chase Cheltenham Grade 3
13/11/2022 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle Cheltenham Grade 3
19/11/2022 Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle Haydock Grade 3
26/11/2022 Coral Handicap Hurdle Newbury Listed
26/11/2022 Coral Gold Cup Handicap Chase Newbury Grade 3
26/11/2022 Rehearsal Handicap Chase Newcastle Listed
03/12/2022 Becher Handicap Chase Aintree Grade 3
09/12/2022 Betfair Handicap Chase Cheltenham Grade 3
10/12/2022 Racing Post Gold Cup Handicap Chase Cheltenham Grade 3
17/12/2022 Silver Cup Handicap Chase Ascot Listed
17/12/2022 Betfair Exchange Trophy Handicap Hurdle Ascot Grade 3
26/12/2022 Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase Wetherby Grade 3
27/12/2022 Welsh Grand National Chepstow Grade 3
01/01/2023 Paddy Power Handicap Chase Cheltenham Grade 3
14/01/2023 Classic Handicap Chase Warwick Grade 3
21/01/2023 Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle Ascot Class 2
28/01/2023 Handicap Chase Cheltenham Grade 3
28/01/2023 Sky Bet Handicap Chase Doncaster Listed
04/02/2023 Heroes Handicap Hurdle Sandown Grade 3
11/02/2023 Betfair Hurdle Newbury Grade 3
18/02/2023 Swinley Handicap Chase Ascot Listed
18/02/2023 Grand National Trial Handicap Chase Haydock Grade 3
25/02/2023 Coral Trophy Handicap Chase Kempton Grade 3
04/03/2023 Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase Newbury Grade 3
11/03/2023 EBF Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Sandown Grade 3
11/03/2023 Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle Sandown Grade 3
11/03/2023 Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase Sandown Listed
14/03/2023 Ultima Handicap Chase Cheltenham Grade 3
14/03/2023 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Cheltenham Grade 3
15/03/2023 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle Cheltenham Grade 3
15/03/2023 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Cheltenham Grade 3
16/03/2023 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle Cheltenham Grade 3
16/03/2023 Plate Handicap Chase Cheltenham Grade 3
17/03/2023 County Handicap Hurdle Cheltenham Grade 3
18/03/2023 Midlands Grand National Uttoxeter Listed
13/04/2023 Red Rum Handicap Chase Aintree Grade 3
14/04/2023 Aintree Handicap Hurdle Aintree Grade 3
14/04/2023 Topham Handicap Chase Aintree Grade 3
15/04/2023 Aintree Handicap Hurdle Aintree Grade 3
15/04/2023 Betway Handicap Chase Aintree Grade 3
15/04/2023 Grand National Aintree Grade 3
20/04/2023 Fillies’ Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Cheltenham Grade 3
22/04/2023 Scotty Brand Handicap Chase Ayr Listed
22/04/2023 Scottish Grand National Ayr Grade 3
29/04/2022 Bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase Sandown Grade 3
13/05/2023 Swinton Handicap Hurdle Haydock Grade 3
22/07/2023 Summer Plate Handicap Chase Market Rasen Grade 3