COUNTY Down trainer Leanne Breen has welcome the changes made this week to the procedures around buying a horse out of a claiming race.

From November 2nd, potential claimants will have to register their intentions with Horse Racing Ireland at least an hour before the race. It is hoped this will speed up the process after the race, which has sometimes seen long delays with over 30 claims being processed before the winning bids can be determined.

Breen, who has lodged two successful claims in recent weeks, said: “It’s pretty straightforward most of the time but there have been times when the phone line has been jammed after a claimer as so many people are trying to get through.

“Last February there were 56 claims for a horse named Tonkinese. I was one of the claimants and an owner of mine said he phoned 100 times before he got through. I know some people were upset afterwards, so anything that can be done to prevent that from happening again is welcome.”

The pre-authorisation process will require potential claimants to supply their contact details, the name of the designated trainer for the horse they wish to claim, the name of the person responsible for collecting and transporting the claimed horse and the value of the horse they wish to claim, up to one hour before the scheduled race time.

All potential claimants, including those who do not hold a HRI account, can contact the client accounts department of HRI for pre-authorisation on the day of the race.

An arrangement will made to pre-authorise a debit or credit card for the purposes of the claim for those who are not HRI account holders. This pre-race process does not constitute making a claim and all claims must be lodged as normal after the race is run.

Pre-authorisation can be done in two ways: by completing the online pre-authorisation form or by telephoning the client accounts department of HRI.

Jason Morris, HRI’s director of racing, said: “The popularity of claiming races continues to grow as a medium for purchasing horses and we have seen a huge increase in the volume of activity, with upwards of 30 claims being submitted in races on occasions. This can lead to considerable delays in the post-race processing and the announcement of the successful claims.

“These changes to the regulations will streamline the process for everyone involved and will also ensure the welfare of claimed horses as they transfer between trainers. The time between the race being run and the announcement of successful claims will be reduced, removing any ambiguity of who is responsible for the welfare of the horse in the period after the race.

“It is important to note that pre-authorisation must be sought each time a person intends to make a claim and that those wishing to proceed with their claim must contact the client accounts department of HRI after the race is run. No claim will be accepted after the race without pre-authorisation.”

There are approximately 40 claiming races in the programme book and Breen, who recently saddled That’s Mad to win the prestigious Joe McGrath Handicap at the Curragh, would like to see more of them scheduled.

“I think they are brilliant,” she said. “You get to see how the horse performs on an Irish track and there are none of the transportation fees you would incur buying a horse in England. Claimers often give owners and trainers of low-grade horses a better chance of getting a run instead of being balloted out of a handicap.”