(As reported from Mike Wharton)
At the suggestion
of many members of this community, the Maryland Steeplechase Association (the “MSA”) has completed a 6-month process which has resulted in a revision of its Conditions.  The Committee that undertook this task solicited broad comment from the community, took that input, evaluated it, and met several times to create a draft that implements those requests.  After the draft was created, that draft was again circulated to the community for comment, and the current and final draft of the new Conditions was approved by the Board of the MSA at a special meeting convened for those purposes on October 14, 2015.  A copy of the new Conditions is attached to this communication.  The goal of the Committee was to maximize consistency, promote fairness, and wherever possible provide objective versus subjective criteria.
While all competing in events sponsored by the MSA have an obligation to carefully review these new Conditions, the MSA would like to point to changes that we would like to bring to your particular attention.
The most significant changes have occurred in the Conditions relating to Juniors, Young Riders, and Ponies.  Indeed, it is in this arena that we received by far the most comments, and the greatest encouragement for change.  Please note the following:

(1)  At the request of members of this community, all Conditions relating to Juniors, Young riders, and Ponies, which previously were spread throughout the General Conditions, have been consolidated into one set of Sub-Conditions entitled “Junior and Young Rider, Pony, and Field Master Chase General Conditions;”

 (2)  Pony Measuring.  Pursuant to Condition No. 6 in the above Conditions, all ponies competing in races sponsored by the MSA will be required to obtain a Pony Measuring Certificate from the MSA.  This will require that all of these ponies be measured before they compete.  In order to make this as painless as possible, the MSA was fortunate enough that Mr. John Almond of the Elkridge Harford Hunt Club, well-known in pony circles, has agreed to do the measuring.  The MSA will establish several pony measuring days on Sundays between now and Shawan Downs, and publicize them in advance.  Additionally, we will be facile and provide for measuring at Foxhall; clinics; etc.; and any other event where we have a critical mass of ponies.  The Certificate will be issued at no charge, and will be good in subsequent years.  As dates are known, they will be made available on the website;

(3)  Qualification for Junior Field Master Chases:  Pursuant to new Condition No. 7, there are three (3) potential ways to qualify for Junior Field Master Chases:

 (a)  The first would be the Foxhunting Qualification, which requires the same rider/horse or pony combination to hunt at least four (4) times or at least 1.5 hours with a recognized or unrecognized hunt.  A card for these purposes has been prepared, and if you would like an actual copy of the card, contact Crystal Kimball at the Maryland Steeplechase Association, and she will mail you a copy.  Alternatively, the form is available on the website.;

 (b)  Assuming a particular race meet accepts Clinic Qualification in its own Conditions, there will be clinics available that have been approved by the MSA where a competitor can be certified by a member of the MSA Board.  No clinic dates have yet been established, but they will be publicized as they are; and

 (c)  Finally, if you are a seasoned competitor in the Junior Field Master Chases, you may seek “Grandfather” qualification by seeking specific approval from the MSA Chief Steward based on past performance.  Mr. Duck Martin may be reached for these purposes at  If you choose this route, be prepared to provide him with a resume of your prior experience.  While not required, videos and/or a recommendation/reference would be helpful.

 (4)  Points.  As you will see in Condition No. 8, the point system has been changed for Junior and Pony Races.  Previously, there was no distinction made between flat races and jump races, and there now is a distinction, where jump race points are worth more than flat race points.  Additionally, points will now be awarded for Foxhall, pursuant to Condition No. 8(a);

 (5)  Mandatory Course Walk and Jump Races.  The MSA specifically is requiring that anyone who intends to ride in a Junior Race that involves jumping must walk the course with his or her trainer before the course.  At check-in, the rider must present some evidence of this having occurred – – what is suggested is a note from the trainer, or a copy of the course map with the trainer’s signature;

 (6)  Whips/Spurs/Blinkers.  Pursuant to Condition No. 11, in Junior events, no whips, spurs, or blinkers are allowed; and

 (7)  Certification.  Finally, the MSA specifically requires that its Conditions be read.  Accordingly, once a Junior or Young Rider has read the Conditions, please send an e-mail to the Secretary, Crystal Kimball, at the e-mail address above, indicating that you have in fact read the Conditions.  These will be kept on file in the event that they are needed.

 Regarding the General Conditions, there are no significant changes. Of note is a clarification regarding Conditions, in Filly and Mare Races (Condition No. 10), and the clarification of the roles of the Race Officials versus the MSA Chief Steward (Condition Nos. 12 and 13).  A definition of “amateur” has been added, which mirrors the definition of an “amateur” used by the National Steeplechase Association (Condition No. 14).  Finally, the point system (Condition No. 18) has been changed to provide for more points for points earned in sanctioned races, and to provide rider points for Foxhall.
Finally, the Awards Conditions have been changed to rename the Leading Timber Rider Award in the memory of H. Brooks Durkee, to create a Heavyweight Timber Champion Series in light of the fact that there are now three (3) heavyweight races, and to add points for Foxhall Riders where appropriate.
            Questions regarding the new Conditions may be directed to any member of the Committee:
Mike Wharton     Peter Fenwick
Todd Wyatt   John Cory –

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