The British Horseracing Association (BHA) has published its fixture list for UK racing 2017, announcing year-round racing on Saturday evenings and three meetings to be staged for the first time on Good Friday.
1,496 fixtures are scheduled to take place over 363 days in 2017, 14 more than in 2016, while there will be an extra day of racing owing to December 23 falling on a Saturday.
Furthermore, there are three fewer Flat turf fixtures than in 2016, with 570 taking place, but the 324 all-weather fixtures is an increase of nine. There are 602 jumping fixtures scheduled, which is eight more than this year, due in part to the reopening of Hereford.
The BHA said a series of enhancements had been designed to support four main objectives – to increase betting (particularly remote); grow attendances; improve efficiency for participants and grow consumer and media interest.
As part of the move to increase betting and attendances, racing will take place on every Saturday evening, which includes the creation of 11 floodlit fixtures in winter. On Thursdays and Fridays, there will also be the trialling of a move of twilight fixtures to evening fixtures.
In a bid to improve the efficiency of the sport for participants, a list of geographical clashes for each racecourse has been developed, which will be used to reduce the prospect of further clashes being created, while there has also been the introduction of code breaks with Flat-free Sundays taking place from January to March and during the summer when the volume of racing is at is highest.
As well as the popular All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield, which will boast £1,000,000 in prize-money according to Arena Racing Company, racing will take place at the ARC-owned Newcastle and Bath on Good Friday in 2017.
There will be a three-week gap between the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National at Aintree.
Nick Rust, chief executive of the BHA, said: “We have always said that the formation of the Members Agreement would be the catalyst for the start of meaningful change to the fixture list. Through consultation with our customers we have developed a fixture list which meets a diverse range of objectives and provides benefits to all stakeholders.
“While there will also be a need for trade-offs, the changes and improvements we have announced today are just the start of a longer-term plan to ensure our fixture list works the best it possibly can for our sport.
“The industry’s Executive Committee – which comprises, horsemen, racecourses and the BHA – unanimously agreed the policy objectives for the 2017 fixture list and beyond. The committee felt that greater consideration should be given to how the list could better support the sport’s strategic objective to grow racing and betting, especially remote betting.
“From next year, when we have a replacement for the Levy, the newly-formed Racing Authority will seek to further align racing’s fixture policy with the agreed objective to grow racing and betting. This will benefit customers and consumers and deliver growth and greater prosperity for the industry, in particular by focusing on remote betting.”