Newton Abbot was the first racecourse to trial the ‘one fit’ padded hurdles, with the trial commencing in March 2013.
The hurdle design was researched and developed by Richard Linley with British Horseracing Authority support and consists of a modified hurdle frame with a custom-fitted close cell foam pad instead of the traditional birch. The hurdle was developed principally to reduce the risk of horse injuries, and since the start of the trial, refinements have been made to the shape of the pad and the hurdle frame itself, before Taunton being the second racecourse to participate in the trial from October 2014.
When the Racecourse Committee met in September 2015, they reviewed the up to date results of the ‘one fit’ padded hurdle trial and agreed they were extremely positive and that the trial should be extended to gather additional data. Since then, Bangor has become the latest racecourse to adopt the ‘one fit’ padded hurdles. This summer, they replaced all of their traditional birch hurdles with the new design, with the meeting on the 29th of July seeing them in use for the first time.
WF Racing has provided all of Bangor’s replacement hurdles and found very little change to the construction of the frame from the traditional hurdle, but there are added parts, i.e., hurdle caps, vinyl sleeves on the top rail and rubber matting over the bottom board.
Results from the trial have suggested an improvement in overall horse injuries, especially those superficial injuries, which potentially keep the horse off the course for some time. There has also been a reduction in hurdle damage with fewer rail and leg breakages.
“It has taken quite some time to get where we are now, and I am very appreciative of the efforts of the team at Newton Abbot, in particular for being so bold in kicking the whole project off. The results so far have been very encouraging, not only in fewer superficial injuries but also in fewer fallers compared to the national average. It has also been very positive from the Ground staff’s point of view due to reduced time for repairing damaged hurdles. Let us hope that the results continue to demonstrate the value of adopting the new design. We also want to thank WF Racing for making the necessary changes to the traditional hurdle design.”
Richard Linley, BHA Senior Inspector of Courses.
In addition to Bangor, the ‘One Fit’ padded hurdles are to be extended to Exeter, Kelso and Uttoxeter Racecourses for the coming season.