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Premier League of racing has to happen – and why more Flat runners should go over jumps

IF only the super tough Stag Horn was the norm!

For those who missed him, the Archie Watson-trained Stag Horn made all to land Saturday’s Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick.

He was given a peach by smiley Nick Schofield and deserved all the plaudits he got.

The success means that Stag Horn is now unbeaten in two starts over hurdles.

He’s a rare breed, because Stag Horn – owned by Ben and Sir Martyn Arbib of Snurge “with the urge” fame – was pretty decent on the Flat.

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The son of Golden Horn was highest rated at 108 on the level, a mark off which he finished fourth of 15 behind Stratum in a Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Not many decent Flat horses go jumping any more.

The days of Alderbrook and Kribensis, of Nomadic Way and I’m Supposin, of Royal Gait and Countrywide Flame even seem long gone. Istabraq and Make a Stand showed what you can do with less high profile runners off the level.

The chance of injury seems the most likely reason why Flat performers have ebbed away from the National Hunt scene, although injury is something faced on the Flat as well.

Or maybe it’s the development of valuable international races. The Dubai Carnival fixtures proving that point.

Or maybe it’s the gradual rise of prize money on the all-weather, but countering that are continued small fields in that sphere.


Whatever the reason it’s a great shame, and on the basis most owners enjoy a challenge I would ask more of the wealthier types with many horses to consider the jumps.

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As a fan a grand old National Hunt type is exciting to watch develop, but there is an equal kick from seeing a classy Flat performer jump for the first time. Most horses can jump, it’s natural to them, so come on people!

Meanwhile, the old chestnut of the mares allowance has reared its ugly head again with Honeysuckle looking more and more unbeatable – with no daring late Flat supplement that is!!! – for the Champion Hurdle.

It’s hard enough for her rivals without them having to give the Henry de Bromhead star 7lb.


With the mares’ programme stronger than ever over jumps and the allowance taken advantage of more and more on the Flat, it’s clear a shift is needed.

The BHA never seem to react to this or even give an opinion, but it’s time for a Premier League of equal sex weight Grade 1 and Group 1 races where horses race off levels.

The Premier Group or Grade 1s would be separate to the majority of similar events and boosted by £250,000.

Every good horse will still run, and we the racing follower will find out who truly is the fastest.

So simple. Literally a no brainier. Yeeehaaa!

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