30/7/1998 - BHB PUBLISHES THE 1999 FIXTURE LIST
"The 1999 Fixture List is published by the British Horseracing Board today. The Fixture List has been framed in fulfilment of its Aim to provide a ""Fixture List and competitive race programme which best meet the needs of racehorse owners, breeders, racegoers, punters, the Betting Industry and the media in a balanced manner which maximises Racing's income.""
Horses and their connections will be provided with:
- a total of 1203 fixture opportunities compared with 1191 this year comprising 675 Flat (including 136 All Weather) and 528 National Hunt Fixtures compared to 666 (135 All Weather) and 525 fixtures respectively this year (See Apendices A, B and C)
- additional jumping opportunities in January and February. 10 replacement jumping fixtures have been scheduled in these months providing added insurance against the inevitable losses from bad weather and complementing BHB's established and highly flexible approach to the replacement of fixture and big race losses. 2 new self-funding fixtures sited to fill fixture criteria breaks at times useful to the horse population account for the balance.
- a continuation of the initiative designed to provide a more even spread of jumping fixtures in the summer period. Appendix A illustrates the further advances made between May and September. (This initiative is already producing further increased competition, with jump field sizes averaging 10 in June and July this year, compared to 8.9 in the same period last year.)
Racecourses and their customers will benefit from:
- an enhanced Sunday programme no longer constrained by the blocking of dates and containing the strongest list to date of participating racecourses, which will build on the levels of quality set this year whilst still maintaining an effective geographical spread. The emphasis on summer Sundays is re-enforced with 8 Sunday dates falling in the months of June, July, August and September as compared with 6 this year. The List also makes special provision for the proposed International Challenge at Kempton Park on August 22nd which is why 4 rather than 3 fixtures have been programmed on this day. (Should arrangements for this proposed new event not be concluded by the promoters in time, this self-funded fixture will be dropped.)
- the maintenance of evening racing opportunities with a total of 181 fixtures providing a slight increase on this year's figure of 179.
The betting industry and the off-course punter can look forward to:
- a further cut in the number of afternoon criteria breaks with only 6 remaining in 1999, compared with 10 in 1998 and 18 in 1997.
- a strong Sunday programme bringing the significant increase in terrestrial television coverage strongly pressed by the Off Course Betting Development Group (at least 9 will be covered as compared with only 5 this year).
- a 4 fixture programme on the Eve of Millennium Bank Holiday.
In constructing the 1999 Fixture List BHB has again placed great emphasis on achieving the best possible balance of opportunities and as can be seen from Appendix A, further advances have been made in smoothing out the flow month by month. The peak month of May will see a drop from 143 fixtures in 1997 to 129 next year. BHB hopes that the changes in this area will be of assistance to the media in their continued valuable coverage of horseracing.
Demand from racecourses for fixtures remains strong which is reflected in the increase from 12 to 14 in self-funded fixtures (which do not receive prize money payments from the Levy Board). Furthermore because it is effectively restricted to 12 Sunday dates BHB has not been able to find Sunday slots for all the racecourses which applied even though their applications were all worthy of consideration.
BHB Chief Executive, Tristram Ricketts, commented:
""The 1999 Fixture List is both more racegoer friendly and more punter friendly than ever before, thanks to the assistance and co-operation of individual racecourses and the Levy Board.
""The significant number of fixture movements agreed between racecourses this year is further evidence of Racing's appreciation of the benefits of a more commercial approach to the maximisation of income. BHB will encourage the continuation of this dynamic fixture process, which should assume even greater importance in the future given that this Fixture List is the last to be framed within the constraints of the Five-Year Levy Agreement.""