BHA Board approves core principles for innovation and improvement in the 2024 fixture list

25 May 2023 BHA Features Racing/Fixtures

  • Principles shaped by the work of the sport’s Commercial Committee and unanimously approved by the BHA Board
  • Innovations introduced in 2024 aim to grow the sport’s reach, appeal to new fanbases and better engage existing customers
  • Changes represent vital first step in longer-term improvements to the structure, funding and promotion of the racing product

Innovative and wide-ranging changes to the 2024 fixture list based on several core principles have been approved by the Board of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

Developed as part of British racing’s cross industry strategy, the principles – which will be implemented and tested over an initial two-year period – represent an important first step in delivering more substantive changes to the racing product.

They have been shaped by the work of the industry’s Commercial Committee – consisting of representatives from the BHA, racecourses, owners, breeders, and licensed personnel – as part of efforts across the sport to develop a long-term, sustainable model for British racing.

The agreement of core principles for the 2024 fixture list is the first phase in the sport’s strategy to grow its fanbase, maximise engagement and generate increased revenues, which in turn will see increased prize money levels.

Work around the future racing product was identified by industry leaders as the most time-critical aspect of the strategy development, and this has therefore been prioritised to ensure that fundamental changes can be incorporated into the 2024 fixture list.

This wider strategic work is looking at a broad suite of customer-focused and data-driven initiatives around how the sport is structured, funded, presented, and promoted – work that will be further developed in the coming months. This sits alongside associated workstreams in key areas such as racehorse ownership, equine welfare, integrity, industry people and corporate social responsibility.

The principles agreed unanimously by the BHA Board that will inform the 2024 fixture list, include:

  • A “Premier” racing tier with higher prize money and more competitive top-quality racing featuring the best horses
  • A two-hour “shop window” on most Saturday afternoons with three fixtures, including up to two Premier fixtures, taking place during the peak customer engagement period (usually 2pm-4pm). Other Saturday fixtures will take place outside the protected window
  • Piloting six Sunday evening floodlit fixtures between January and March 2024 – a time of the week where betting activity tends to be strong
  • Boosting Core racing – moving more fixtures later in the day in response to changing customer preferences, making the most of our Core fixtures during major festivals and supporting Summer Jumping
  • More competitive racing with a reduction in 300 Jump races across the year, and some Flat races moved from summer to autumn/early winter, based on data showing these measures will help increase field sizes and betting
  • Better quality racing on Sunday afternoons, including Premier fixtures.

More information about these core principles can be found here.

These measures are supported by extensive research and analysis, underpinned for the first time by data from betting companies, racecourses, and the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB). The work has also been informed by customer insight, including from the Horserace Bettors’ Forum (HBF), and input from the industry’s Fixtures and Funding Group.

Further detail to support the implementation of the core principles will be developed and refined in the coming weeks and used to inform the 2024 fixture list. This will include funding submissions to the HBLB to support the delivery of the strategy, particularly around areas of higher prize money levels.

There will also be ongoing dialogue about how best to support racing’s people as the sport innovates the racing product and seeks to meet the changing preferences of its customers.

This will initially include discussions and recommendations around the number of breaks in the calendar, while a long-term strategy to future-proof racing’s workforce is developed by the Industry People Board.

Joe Saumarez Smith, Chair of the BHA, said:

“The BHA Board endorsed and approved these recommendations because it was clear to us that they were necessary and in the best interests of the sport.

“The information that was presented by the sport’s Commercial Committee included detailed consideration of both the upside and downside of all proposals. This allowed the Board to make its decisions based on the complete picture.

“It is inevitable that not all parties agree with all proposals. But it was for this reason that the new governance structure was agreed by the industry, so that difficult decisions can be made and there can be progress in the best interests of the whole sport.

“The changes will be tested over an initial two-year period and will be closely evaluated to see how well they work, with the aim of permanently adopting the things that have been a success.

“I would like to thank the Commercial Committee, and everyone who has been involved in this process, for their work to date. It has been a truly collaborative, cross-industry effort.”

Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of the BHA, said:

“When the industry’s leaders came together in autumn last year, we agreed unanimously that innovation in the way the sport is presented is an absolute necessity.

“The core principles approved by the BHA Board were identified as the most time sensitive area and the foundation of our wider approach.

“There is still a huge amount to do as we seek to grow and future-proof British racing, but the development of a fixture list that seeks to attract new fans and grow the appeal of our sport to existing customers represents an important first step.”

David Jones, Chair of the cross-industry Commercial Committee, said:

“I’m very grateful to all members of the Commercial Committee for their contributions through this extensive process. The proposals that have been made by the sport are based on an unprecedented use of data and research, significant consultation and a high quality of debate.

“The sport needs to progress with the measures that have been agreed by the Board, in order to bring about the growth which will benefit all parts of the industry.”

Notes to editors:

1. Racing Product – Core principles

More information about the core principles that will inform the development of the 2024 fixture list can be found here.

2. British racing’s Industry Strategy

British racing’s Industry Strategy, supported by the governance changes made in late 2022, provides an opportunity to strengthen the sport’s future and Britain’s position as a world leader in thoroughbred racing and breeding. The objective of the strategy is to create a sustainable model for British racing, enabling revenue growth, social licence and innovation.

There are six customer-focussed elements within the strategy, including: Future Racing Product (to which the principles issued today relate), Owners, Betting, Fans (engagement & promotion), Investment, and Product presentation, development & broadcast.

As well as being a foundation of the customer-facing workstreams, the Future Racing Product is the most time-critical area of work. This is to ensure that fundamental change can be incorporated into the fixture list from 2024. Hence why this area of the strategy has been prioritised.

Alongside the customer-focussed elements there are also workstreams in relation to equine welfare, integrity, people and corporate social responsibility. More detail can be found here

3. Commercial Committee membership

  • David Jones (Chair), BHA Senior Independent Director
  • Julie Harrington, BHA Chief Executive
  • Richard Wayman, BHA Chief Operating Officer
  • David Armstrong, RCA Chief Executive
  • Martin Cruddace, ARC Chief Executive
  • Nevin Truesdale, Jockey Club Chief Executive
  • Alex Eade, Secretary General, Large Independent Racecourse Group
  • Jonjo Sanderson, as representative of the small independent racecourses
  • Claire Sheppard, TBA Chief Executive
  • Paul Johnson, NTF Chief Executive
  • Charlie Liverton, ROA Chief Executive
  • Ian McMahon, PJA Chief Executive
  • George McGrath, NARS Chief Executive