The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has outlined a series of policies to be applied ahead the 2019 fixture list formation, with a focus placed upon supporting jockeys and racing staff, whilst also maximising commercial revenues to the sport.
Maintaining an eight-day summer break, and five-day end-of-season breaks for Jump fixtures, an agreement has been reached to implement a number of measures:
- All floodlit fixtures (which run from January to mid-April, and from September to December) are to finish earlier, with the final race starting no later than 20:30.
- A six-day break will be introduced for Flat racing participants at the end of the Turf season in November. In addition there will be an intended five-day break in March towards the end of the All-Weather season (although additional late notice fixtures may be programmed during this period in exceptional circumstances if all Jump fixtures on a day look likely to be abandoned).
- No fixtures will be programmed on Sunday 22 December 2019, providing an extra racing-free day before Christmas.
Whilst it was also detailed that following discussions with betting companies and various stakeholders, further policies to be applied to the 2019 fixture lift are:
- To schedule floodlit cards with the aim of providing greater continuity of product from the start of afternoon racing through until the final race of the day on a consistent basis, with the final race always staged between 20:00 and 20:30.
- The addition of 15 floodlit fixtures in autumn, to be run alongside existing floodlit cards on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as part of a one year trial to test their popularity with the betting industry’s customers. These fixtures will be programmed in September and October when there is currently a relatively high level of race eliminations and so any impact on field sizes is expected to be negligible.
In addition it has also been agreed to extending the appearance money scheme, subject to necessary approvals.
Currently paying an extra £100 to horses finishing in the first eight on Friday and Saturday floodlit and summer evening fixtures, the extension would cover all floodlit from January to mid-April, and September to December.
Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer for the BHA, explained: “We are aware of the demands that the fixture list places on our participants. Repeatedly returning home late from race meetings being followed by early starts the following day is not good for the health and well being of our trainers, staff and jockeys, and ultimately impacts retention rates.
“At the same time, as the world changes and betting behaviours alter – in particular the ongoing and ever increasing switch to digital betting platforms – it is essential that the sport adapts to meet this demand and schedules its fixtures and races accordingly.
“We must maximise revenues to the sport and its people by engaging with betting audiences at times when we know they want to bet and have few other sporting options to do so.
“It is about striking the right balance and ensuring that the sport generates revenue while not asking too much of our workforce. It is for this reason that the agreed policies will be put in place next year.”