The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today published the Fixture List for 2015, with a total of 1,471 fixtures programmed.
Paul Bittar, BHA Chief Executive, said:
“It is fitting that the 2015 Fixture List is published immediately after British Champions Day has once again provided a spectacular climax to the Flat season and as we stand on the threshold of what promises to be an enthralling 2014/15 Jump season. It is this ongoing quality and variety that the sport provides throughout the course of the year that sets British Racing apart from its international competitors.
“The development of the 2015 Fixture List has been among the most complex and challenging in recent years. From the outset we have sought to make it a structured and collaborative process, both in the form of the original Fixture List consultation and subsequent communication following the completion of the consultation process. We are delighted with, and thankful for, the level of engagement from the industry stakeholders including the betting industry. Consequently we have now developed a framework for engagement and collaboration which we hope will allow BHA to tackle effectively further issues related to the Fixture List and race programme in the coming years.
“The principal focus for the 2015 Fixture List was to address the issue of the growing number of uncompetitive, small-field races which are both unattractive for the punter and damaging to British Racing’s international reputation.
“Put simply, the current horse population is not able to satisfactorily sustain the number of races we have staged in recent years. As such, while the Fixture List is similar in size to 2014, and this is a position supported by all stakeholder groups, steps have been taken to address imbalances to ensure that more fixtures and races are staged at periods in the season when the supply of horses is better placed to meet the demands of the Fixture List. While focusing on the sporting elements and delivery of more competitive racing, the overall economics of the sport are protected through this approach.
“In addition, BHA will be announcing in the coming days a series of race planning initiatives designed to reduce the number of small-field, uncompetitive races. This will include the removal of around 170 races from the race programme, ensuring that while the Fixture List will remain similar in size to 2014, the horse population is being asked to service fewer races at certain times of the year.”
The headline figures are:
- A total of 1,471 fixtures have been scheduled, seven more than in 2014. However, this includes nine Twilight Fixtures which are scheduled for September, October and November. In each of the past few years a similar number of fixtures have been added to the Fixture List in this manner during the course of the year on a trial basis. Following the success of the trial they have now been scheduled formally as part of the Fixture List in 2015.
- Ratio of fixtures in 2015 – Flat Turf 39.1% : Jump 40.0% : All Weather 20.9% – remains broadly similar to last year (2014: Flat Turf 40% : Jump 39.8% : All Weather 20.2%).
- 882 Flat fixtures scheduled (one more than in 2014). Of these fixtures, 575 are Flat Turf fixtures (10 fewer than 2014) while 307 are All Weather fixtures (eleven more than originally scheduled in 2014, though six twilight fixtures were subsequently added in September, October and November 2014, as has also been the case in previous years).
- 589 Jump fixtures scheduled (2014: 583). These six additional fixtures have been split evenly between North, Midlands and South, meaning all regions have received two extra fixtures.
- Six fixtures moved from Flat racing ‘pinch-points’ (January/February/March when field sizes are at their lowest) to periods when there is greater demand for fixtures and races amongst the horse population.
- The six fixtures moved from Flat pinch-points in January/February/March have been replaced by Jump fixtures in the same period.
Ruth Quinn, BHA Director of Racing, said:
“Alongside – and linked to – the issue regarding small-field races, the development of a robust and fair BHA Fixture Allocation Process was a priority for not only the 2015 Fixture List but also for years to come.
“One of the pleasing elements of the Fixture Allocation Process is that by using a balanced-scorecard approach it has attracted a more diverse spread of courses to apply for BHA fixtures. This has seen entries to the market and bolstering of programmes for large and small independent racecourses alike. This provides opportunities for a greater geographic spread of fixtures and variety of opportunities for horses at key times.
“We have also been able to manage the addition of a new All Weather track to the Fixture List without disrupting the important balance and spread of fixtures in terms of the ratios of Flat and Jump fixtures.
“While certain improvements have been made to address specific issues which arose from the 2014 Fixture List, such as resolving the clash between British Champions Day and the Cheltenham Showcase meeting, there remain outstanding issues, including certain Saturdays of the year which are overly strong at present.
“Now that new processes have been developed in terms of consultation with the industry and the new BHA Fixture Allocation Process, a platform has been built which will allow focus on attempting to address other areas of the Fixture List from 2016.”
Further headline elements of the 2015 Fixture List include:
- As previously announced, the Showcase meeting at Cheltenham has moved a week later to 23 and 24 October in 2015, the weekend after QIPCO British Champions Day, which retains its position on Saturday 17 October. A series of fixture moves affecting several racecourses were required to accommodate this switch, including converting the previously two-day Betfred Old Roan Chase meeting at Aintree into two separate fixtures. The Betfred Old Roan Chase will switch from its former Saturday slot to be run on Sunday 25 October, with the Saturday fixture moving two weeks later to Saturday 7 November.
- Chelmsford City Racecourse has been allocated 58 fixtures for 2015. This total is comprised of 12 pre-allocated BHA Fixtures, a further 44 fixtures from the Flat pool via the BHA Fixture Allocation Process and one self-funded fixture. Of these fixtures, 32 are in twilight slots.
- Wetherby Racecourse will stage four Flat fixtures in 2014, three of which were allocated from the BHA Fixture pool. This will be in addition to their Jump programme, which has been retained.
- As previously announced by the Jockey Club, Warwick Racecourse has become a Jump-only course from 2015. Six Flat turf fixtures have been converted to Jump and a further four fixtures relocated to other courses.
Notes to editors:
- In total 195 BHA Fixtures were allocated under the new Process, compared to 203 originally programmed in 2014. This is because in 2015 17 BHA Fixtures were pre-allocated to Chelmsford City Racecourse (12), Cartmel (2) and Fakenham (3), thus reducing the overall pool, however nine twilight fixtures in September/October/November have been added. It should be noted that in 2014 six similar twilight fixtures were also added in the Autumn period, though these were not initially programmed in the Fixture List.
- Nine Self-Funded Fixtures were allocated, compared to 11 in 2014. Self-Funded Fixtures have only been approved where prize money thresholds – agreed in consultation with stakeholders – have been met. Also, in recommending applications, the BHA Board took consideration of Inspectorate approval, horse population, geography, the overall balance of the Fixture List, and other fixtures taking place on the day in question.
- The full split of fixtures is as follows:
1 Six twilight fixtures were later added to this total in 2014
2 Includes British Champions Day, Future Champions Day and Principal Day Fixtures
- By betting session there will be 1,108 afternoon fixtures, 252 evening fixtures and 111 twilight fixtures (2014: 1,113, 249 and 102 respectively).
- The Fixture List has been developed in conjunction with the Fixture List Consultation Group (FLCG), which has acted as a working party. The FLCG consists of representatives from the Racecourse Association (RCA), Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB), Horsemen’s Group (HG), Racecourse Media Group (RMG), At The Races (ATR), Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR), Arena Racing Company (ARC) and representatives of the Large and Small Independent Racecourses.