- Racing’s new tripartite structure delivers enhancements to Fixture List
- Developments focused around four key objectives: Increasing betting (particularly remote), growing attendances, improving efficiency for participants and growing consumer and media interest
- Development of new strategy lays foundations for future Fixture Lists which, following replacement of the Levy and introduction of Racing Authority, will be aligned fully with the sport’s strategic objective to grow racing and betting
- Headline enhancements for 2017 include year-round racing on Saturday evenings, bolstering of prize money on Sunday, Monday and Tuesdays, code breaks for participants and an extra fixture on Good Friday
- 14 extra fixtures programmed to boost revenues for racecourses, horsemen and bookmakers, supported by growing horse population and ongoing race planning initiatives
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today published British Horseracing’s Fixture List for 2017, the first Fixture List to be produced since the Members’ Agreement was signed in November 2015.
1,496 Fixtures have been scheduled to take place over 363 days of racing, alongside a series of enhancements designed to support four main objectives which were agreed by the sport’s tripartite structure of BHA, racecourses and horsemen. They are: To increase betting (particularly remote); grow attendances; improve efficiency for participants; and grow consumer and media interest.
The headline enhancements to the Fixture List in 2017, in line with the four main strategy objectives, are as below. These enhancements lay the foundations for future years when, following the replacement of the Levy and introduction of the Racing Authority, the Fixture List will be able to be aligned fully with our strategic objective to grow racing and betting, in particular remote betting.
Increasing betting (particularly remote)
British racing’s Authorised Betting Partners have highlighted evening fixtures as the primary opportunity to support further growth in remote betting. This has resulted in:
- The introduction of year-round racing on Saturday evenings, which includes the creation of 11 floodlit fixtures in winter. These fixtures should also support attendances.
- On Thursdays and Fridays, the trialling of a move of twilight fixtures to evening fixtures. There are approximately 50 such fixtures but in practice this mean that just 35 fixtures will start, on average, one hour later than is currently the case.
- With the success of a newly created twilight fixture on the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival, an additional twilight fixture will be added on the Monday before Cheltenham.
The newly created Fixtures Group, including representatives from the BHA, horsemen and racecourses, acknowledged that this would involve racing at times of the week when the public are most able to attend race meetings but were conscious of the challenges faced by the sport’s participants servicing such fixtures. As a result, only limited changes have been made in this area.
- Alongside the growth of the List and bolstering of Thursday/Friday/Saturday evening racing, a third fixture has been created on three of the five Friday evenings during the summer on which there are currently only two fixtures.
- The creation of three additional Self-Funded fixtures on Saturday afternoons at York, Chester and Musselburgh (Easter Saturday).
Further focus will be placed on this area in coming years.
Improving efficiency for the participants.
- A list of potential geographical clashes for each racecourse has been developed with racecourses and horsemen, which will be used to reduce the prospect of further clashes being created. Work will continue with the racecourses in the future to attempt to remove existing clashes in the 2017 List including a reduction of gaps (for example in the Northern Jump programme) and, where considered undesirable, clusters of fixtures within a particular region.
- The introduction of code breaks with Flat-free Sundays from January to March (following the introduction of Saturday evenings throughout this period) and Flat-free Sundays during the summer (when the volume of racing is at its highest);
- To reduce the number of Sundays with three fixtures by three days
Further work will be undertaken to explore how the Fixture List could be structured in a way that better supports recruitment and retention of racing’s workforce.
Supporting consumer/media requirements
- With the support of the Levy Board, a Lead Fixture Fund is to be created to incentivise racecourses to stage a higher quality fixture every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, offering prize money of at least £55k. The Race Incentive Fund will also offer higher support payments to stage quality races in midweek.
- The main fixture on every Sunday to include a feature race with prize money of at least £20,000
- Following the success of the first three years, the addition of a third Good Friday fixture with total prize on the day in excess of £1.4m. Following applications, fixtures will be staged at Lingfield Park (All-Weather Championships Finals Day), Newcastle and Bath in 2017. ARC has also pledged to continue to support the Lambourn Open Day.
The headline figures for the 2017 Fixture List are:
- A total of 1,496 fixtures have been scheduled, 14 more than planned in 2016, across 363 days – an extra day of racing than usual owing to 23 December falling on a Saturday. This growth will generate revenue for racecourses, opportunities for horsemen and benefit bookmakers. Owing to the recent growth in horse population and field sizes, as well as the ongoing work to address small field sizes and the addition of a northern All Weather track, we forecast that the horse population should be able to meet the increased race programme without a reduction in field sizes or competitiveness.
- Ratio of fixtures in 2017 – Jump: 40.2%, Flat Turf 38.1%, All Weather 21.7% This remains broadly similar to last year (2016: Jump 40% : Flat Turf 38.7% : All Weather 21.3%) despite the new All Weather course at Newcastle being in place for the whole of 2017 (rather than May-Dec 2016) and the addition of 11 All Weather fixtures on Saturday evenings from January to March
- 894 Flat fixtures scheduled (six more than in 2016). Of these fixtures, 570 are Flat Turf fixtures (three fewer than 2016) while 324 are All Weather fixtures (nine more than originally scheduled in 2016)
- 602 Jump fixtures scheduled (eight more than 2016, due in part to the reopening of Hereford racecourse)
- There are 1,219 racecourse fixtures (the same as 2016), 234 BHA Fixtures (17 more than 2016), 13 Self-Funded fixtures (the same as in 2016), and 30 Enterprise/Other Fixtures (one fewer than in 2016)
- By betting session, there will be 1,115 afternoon fixtures, 333 evening fixtures and 48 twilight fixtures
Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, said:
“We have always said that the formation of the Members Agreement would be the catalyst for the start of meaningful change to the Fixture List. Through consultation with our customers we have developed a Fixture List which meets a diverse range of objectives and provides benefits to all stakeholders. While there will also be a need for trade-offs, the changes and improvements we have announced today are just the start of a longer-term plan to ensure our Fixture List works the best it possibly can for our sport.
“The industry’s Executive Committee – which comprises, horsemen, racecourses and the BHA – unanimously agreed the policy objectives for the 2017 Fixture List and beyond. The Committee felt that greater consideration should be given to how the List could better support the sport’s strategic objective to grow racing and betting, especially remote betting.
“From next year, when we have a replacement for the Levy, the newly formed Racing Authority will seek to further align Racing’s fixture policy with the agreed objective to grow racing and betting. This will benefit customers and consumers and deliver growth and greater prosperity for the industry, in particular by focusing on remote betting.”
Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association (RCA), said:
“We are fully supportive of the broader focus for the 2017 Fixture List, in the interests of the future prosperity of the sport. The Fixture List is the bedrock of racecourse businesses, and we are encouraged by the 2017 process and the resulting measures taken to boost the popularity of the sport to all its customer groups, supporting growth in attendances, remote betting and income generation.
“Improving the quality and competitiveness of racing throughout the week is a key objective and we see the measures here as a positive first step, which will be built upon as the current funding issues of our sport are addressed with the introduction of a Racing Authority.
“We also recognise the challenges faced by the horsemen with a growing Fixture List, and have made concerted efforts to improve the pattern of fixtures and address clusters, gaps and clashes. Progress has been made, including code breaks for the Flat at peak times, improving the balance and spread of fixtures.”
Philip Freedman, Chairman of the Horsemen’s Group, said:
“Industry policy for 2017 fixtures has been developed over a series of meetings since February, and has been shaped by the industry growth strategy. Throughout it has been a collaborative process involving horsemen, the racecourses and the BHA.
“While, throughout the process, changes involving the improvement of the quality of midweek racing were supported by horsemen, not all the changes intended to boost attendance and remote betting were consistent with their interests. This principally related to additional fixtures on Friday evenings in July and August and Saturday evenings between January and March as fixtures at these times are more costly for them and cause further disruption to stable staff working patterns. However, the tripartite discussions enabled agreement to be reached on their introduction by ensuring that there would be a compensating reduction in Sundays with three fixtures, and more flat-free Sundays in summer, as well as the introduction of prize money thresholds for the additional fixtures.
“This will ensure that horsemen share in the benefits of the growth in the industry which all those involved in the fixture list process believe that the changes introduced in 2017 will deliver.”
Notes to Editors:
1. The Fixture List documents can be found attached to this press release, or here: stage.britishhorseracing.com/resource-centre/fixture-list/
2. Total Fixtures by code
|Year||All||Jump||Flat||Flat turf||Flat AWT|
3. Proportion of Fixtures by code
|Fixtures||Jump||Flat turf||Flat AWT|