The British Horseracing Board today publishes the Fixture List for 2005. Next year’s List is comparable to 2004’s, which underwent major structural changes. It sees a small, further increase in the total number of programmed fixtures in order to build on the racegoer and punter-friendly improvements made for 2004.
The key features of the 2005 Fixture List are:
• 1,349 fixtures, the increase of 8 on 2004 being additional Regional Racing fixtures. As was the case in 2004, 1,270 fixtures are funded by the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB). BHB is funding 78 Regional fixtures (2004: 70). The other fixture, as in 2004, is Hamilton Park’s Fair Friday fixture, which will be run as a self-funded fixture outside HBLB and Bookmaker Afternoon Greyhound Service (BAGS) criteria;
• 487 individual betting sessions (mornings, afternoons or evenings when fixtures are programmed), up from 471 in 2004, allowing British Racing to maximise its income and compete with other products available in Licensed Betting Offices;
• No breaks in the HBLB Fixture List criteria;
• 220 evening fixtures on 116 different evenings, again commencing on 15th April (2004: 223 and 117 respectively);
• 129 meetings on 46 Sundays (2004: 132 and 47 respectively), including 44 consecutively between 6th February and 4th December inclusive; the one fewer Sunday raceday in 2005 reflects that Christmas Day falls on a Sunday.
For the first time since 1989, the Flat Turf season will begin at Kempton Park on Easter Saturday, which falls early in 2005, on 26th March. Doncaster’s Lincoln Meeting commences on the following Thursday.
National Hunt meetings again represent 40% of the total Fixture List, with the figure of 535 remaining comfortably above the 525 outlined by the National Hunt Review of 1998 as a minimum to sustain and encourage Jump racing.
There has been a relocation of a number of fixtures in September and October to reflect the demands of the Jump and Flat horse population at that time of the year, with an increase in Flat fixtures and a reduction in Jump fixtures.
All Sundays in 2005 except Christmas Day were potential fixture slots. Four Sundays in January have been left blank and, coupled with a period between mid-February and Easter (late March) with 2 fixtures rather than 3 on each Sunday, there is room for replacement Jump fixtures in the event of a significant number of abandonments.
Following the successful initial tranche of Regional Racing fixtures in the first months of 2004, their number has been increased by 8 in 2005. In recognition of the relatively low field sizes experienced towards the end of April, this period will see 5 Regional fixtures in 2005 as opposed to 10 in 2004. There will also be a maximum of one Regional fixture per betting session throughout the year.
Matinee (late morning) fixtures were introduced in 2004, with one Regional fixture to be staged on nine Saturdays in September and October. These have been increased to 15 in 2005, with the additional fixtures situated on Saturdays in March (3) and November (3). These fixtures provide racing opportunities at busy periods of the year while also allowing British Racing to compete for market share in Licensed Betting Offices.
BHB has met the requests of terrestrial broadcasters where possible in the 2005 Fixture List. There will be 5 Saturday afternoons on which 5 (rather than the usual 4) fixtures will be staged, allowing the BBC and Channel 4 to screen a quality product throughout the year. Also, at Channel 4’s request and with the agreement of all parties, York’s Dante Meeting in May has moved to Wednesday/Thursday/Friday from Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday.
The re-development of Ascot racecourse throughout 2005 has led to Royal Ascot being switched to York, with the majority of Ascot’s remaining fixtures switched to Arena Leisure courses. Discussions are continuing with regard to the relocation of Victor Chandler Chase Day in January, the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes Meeting in July and the Festival of British Racing in September.
BHB Racing Director Ruth Quinn said: “The 2005 Fixture List seeks to make best use of Racing’s greatest asset, our horse population, while balancing the needs of customers and the industry.
“It is largely a consolidation of the 2004 Fixture List, which is bringing in significantly more income to Racing through a more efficient siting of fixtures and by providing extra racing and betting opportunities.”
The full 2005 Fixture List can be downloaded from BHB Reports