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NHC Championship a three-day event in 2014

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) released on Tuesday the rules for the National Handicapping Championship 2013 Tour.

Signups for the 2013 NHC Tour are now being accepted at www.ntra.com/en/nhc/become-a-member/. The complete rules are posted at www.ntra.com/en/nhc/official-rules/.

The NHC Tour is a yearlong bonus series offering $175,000 in additional prize money and qualifying berths to the NHC.

As was the case in 2012, NHC Tour membership is mandatory in order to earn an entry into the NHC Finals -- the lucrative culmination of the year's qualifying schedule. The recently concluded NHC 14 on January 25-26 saw Jim Benes of Countryside, Illinois, emerge with the $750,000 grand prize and an Eclipse Award as Handicapper of the Year.

Among the changes for the 2013 Tour year is an increase from 10 to a record 20 in the number of NHC berths to be given out via free, online qualifying tournaments that are restricted to NHC Tour members. Also, the top 150 Tour points leaders at the end of the year (up from 100 in 2012) will be guaranteed entry into the 2014 NHC. Once again in next January's NHC Finals, the season-ending NHC Tour points leader will be eligible for a $2 million bonus should he or she capture the 2014 NHC.

NHC Tour prize money this year will be at least $175,000, including a total of $25,000 in mid-year payouts to the top eight in the standings as of July 31. End-of-year payouts will total $150,000, with points based on a member's top six scores. Again in 2013, bonuses will be paid to those players who win multiple NHC qualifying tournaments. A $3,000 bonus will be paid for a second qualifying tournament victory. An additional $4,000 bonus will be paid for a third win. And an additional $5,000 bonus will be awarded for a fourth win.

Membership in the 2013 NHC Tour requires a one-time membership fee of $50. Membership in the 2013 NHC Tour is mandatory in order for top finishers of sanctioned NHC qualifying events to be eligible to compete in the January 2014 NHC Finals. The NHC Tour membership must be in place prior to the start of any given qualifying tournament in order for one to qualify for the NHC Finals at that qualifying tournament.

The NHC Tour will lead to the January 2014 final that has been a two-day event since its inception, but will be extended to three days in 2014. Another NHC "first" in 2014 will be the opportunity for players to qualify for two entries in the tournament that is again expected to give away $750,000 to the winner and more than $1.5 million overall.

The entire field of NHC contestants will compete during the first two days of the tournament, with the top individuals moving on to compete for the grand prize on Day 3. Those with multiple entries among the top scores after Day 2 will only have one of those entries carry into Day 3, with the next highest scorers rounding out the Day 3 field. All those advancing to Day 3 will be guaranteed a cash prize. During the afternoon of Day 3, there will be a cut that yields a "final table" consisting of the tournament's highest scorers. Those advancing to the final table will battle it out for the NHC's top cash prizes.

All those not making it into the Day 3 Final will be entered in a free, Day 3 consolation tournament. The complete rules for the 2014 NHC Final are expected to be announced within the next 30-45 days.

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