The British Horseracing Board today publishes the Fixture List for 2008, which has again been produced to balance and address the demands of all sectors of the sport and its range of customers.
The key features of the 2008 Fixture List are:
• 1,504 fixtures, an increase of 89 (6.3%) on 2007
• 599 individual betting sessions compared with 543 in 2007 (up 10.3%).
• 372 evening fixtures on 236 evenings (2007: 287 and 178 respectively)
• 147 fixtures on all 52 Sundays during the year (2007: 144 and 51 respectively)
Representing another record number of meetings – and by extension a record number of opportunities for the record number of horses in training and their connections – the increase on the 2007 Fixture List can in part be attributed to a year-round programme of evening racing, with 127 floodlit fixtures being staged Wednesday to Saturday outside of traditional core evening racing period (April to the end of August).
In addition, 2008 marks the introduction of Enterprise Fixtures, which have been designed to allow racecourses to expand their fixture portfolios in commercially attractive slots. 35 such slots were made available, and 30 were taken up, with racecourses contributing a minimum of £40,000 (Flat) and £30,000 (Jump) prize money to Enterprise Fixtures.
270 BHB fixtures will be staged in 2008. 168 of these fixtures were auctioned in June via a bespoke online bidding website (of the remainder, 16 were pre-allocated to New Racecourse Great Leighs and 86 had previously been bid for on two or three-year leases). As a result of the bidding activity the 2008 Development Fund – which exists to support races that serve a particular race planning role – will stand at £1.49m.
The 2008 Flat Championships will commence at Doncaster on Easter Saturday, 22nd March, with that racecourse also bringing the season to a close in November. Another notable change to the 2008 Flat season is the addition of a fourth day to York’s Ebor Festival, which will now run from Tuesday 19th to Friday 22nd August.
There is also a record number – 556 – of Jump fixtures programmed, which represents 38% of the total Fixture List.
BHB Racing Director Ruth Quinn said: “Next year sees another significant increase in the number of fixtures, with two particular areas of growth: firstly, a year-round programme of evening racing which is largely the product of legislative change, and secondly, the introduction of Enterprise Fixtures, with certain racecourses proving keen to stage extra meetings, mainly on Friday evenings through the summer, at their own expense.
“The 2008 Fixture List, while presenting several new exciting challenges, should be viewed against the backdrop of the major review which the British Horseracing Authority will be undertaking and on which work has already commenced. The review will aim to identify, with the help of as many contributors as possible, the optimal size and shape of the Fixture List for British Racing, for 2009 onwards.”