Members of the British Horseracing Board have voted by an overwhelming majority for significant changes in the Fixture List for the year 2000 to broaden the appeal of the sport and attract new racegoers.
At its monthly meeting this week, the Board backed a proposal for a continuous programme of Sunday racing next summer, with three fixtures on 18 consecutive Sundays from the last weekend in April to the end of August. (A further four Sundays, each with three fixtures, will be programmed outside the summer period, as in 1999)
Following an extensive programme of consultation within the industry, in which trainers and stable staff expressed concern about the impact of racing on Saturday evening and Sunday over the same weekend, BHB Directors decided that Saturday evening fixtures during the same four-month period next summer should be transferred to other dates.
The BHB’s fixture list policy will now go to the Levy Board next week with a request to put in place complementary funding arrangements, including full funding for all Sunday and fifth summer Saturday afternoon fixtures.
BHB Chairman, Peter Savill, said: “”If racing is to compete effectively with other sports and leisure activities, it is vital that we take advantage of the clear-cut opportunity presented by Sunday racing to help develop a racing product which can be effectively and consistently marketed, which enhances the overall exposure and profile of the sport and which increases the attraction of racing to new racegoers and punters. This is a big step forward for the racing industry, and we now look to the Levy Board and the betting industry to join us in supporting it.
“”The BHB Board is united in wanting to build on the success of Sunday racing, but we had a choice to make. Saturday evenings are attractive to some racecourses, and it is quite understandable that their representatives on the Board expressed concern about transferring these fixtures. Before reaching its decision, the Board took into consideration the concerns of trainers and stable lads, the anticipated views of the Levy Board and the betting industry, and the alternative fixture opportunities available for those racecourses which currently race on Saturday evenings. Having carefully considered all these factors, the Board came to the conclusion that a consistent programme of Sunday racing should be the priority.
“”Our task now is to work in partnership with the racecourses to produce, within the overall strategy, a detailed fixture list which best meets their needs and the needs of racing’s customers. Although Saturday evening fixtures will not be available in the year 2000, we believe we have achieved a fixture list which will increase racecourse attendances by becoming more customer friendly, while at the same time meeting the needs of punters and the betting industry by remaining within the existing criteria framework.
“”In addition to an expanded programme of Sunday racing and more fifth Saturday afternoon fixtures, we are also proposing more Friday evenings with three instead of two fixtures, and a number of Thursday evening meetings.
“”Nor is this the end of the story. We need to work with the trainers and the stable lads to review staffing arrangements in our industry so that in future we can introduce more customer-friendly fixtures, including Saturday evenings, when more people are able to enjoy the sport.
“”With this in mind, the Board has commissioned a special study to identify ways of alleviating staff shortages and making working arrangements more flexible and efficient. The steering group responsible for the study, chaired by Lady Burnham, will look beyond racing to see if lessons can be learned from comparable industries in the leisure sector which operate successfully at weekends while safeguarding the interests of the staff concerned. The study should be complete by the autumn.””
BHB Fixture Policy: Summary Of Changes For Summer Of 2000
* Three fixtures on 18 consecutive Sundays
* More fifth afternoon fixtures on Saturdays
* An evening fixture pattern based on 12 weeks with three days evening racing and six weeks with four evenings, as follows:
Mondays: two fixtures
Tuesdays: two fixtures in Bank Holiday weeks
Wednesdays: two fixtures
Thursdays: two fixtures in six weeks
Fridays: three fixtures
Saturdays: none in 2000, from the last Saturday in April to the end of August.