- Full list of 1,486 fixtures published, developed with a view to maximising revenue for the sport and participants, while safeguarding participant wellbeing and taking account of the horse population
- Minimum prize money levels across all races return to pre-Covid levels
- Volume of races in July and August to be reduced to ensure competitive racing and safeguard against possible reductions in horses in training as a result of the pandemic
- Jockeys to continue to ride at a maximum of one meeting per day, with the situation to be reviewed when Covid-19 protocols are no longer required
Following confirmation from the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) of a fixture-related funding package to support British racing’s fixture list in May and June, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today published a full Fixture List (Excel, PDF) for 2021, as well as confirming the minimum prize money values that are intended to remain in place for the remainder of the year.
In October 2020 a Fixture List for the period January – April 2021 was published, alongside dates for meetings involving Pattern races and provisional dates for racecourse fixtures for the full year. The dates of BHA fixtures were not included at this stage.
The publication of the full Fixture List now finalises the sport’s fixture programme for the year, and includes formalised dates for all racecourse fixtures alongside an additional 228 BHA fixtures.
The funding package which has been confirmed by HBLB, underpinned by racecourse contributions to prize money, will see minimum prize money values return to their pre Covid-19 levels for all tiers of races for the remainder of 2021. Previously this had been the case for all races at Class 2 and below, while Class 1 races and heritage handicaps had been operating at 75% of their pre-Covid levels.
Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer for the BHA, said:
“Publishing the full Fixture List now will provide greater certainty for the sport and its customers. This is particularly important for racecourses, who are being asked to make increased executive contributions as Levy Board funding begins to scale back.
“Of course, until spectators return and retail bookmakers re-open, racecourse revenues remain under considerable pressure. However, the publication of the Fixture List does, at least, reduce one area of uncertainty for racecourses and would allow for increased confidence in forecasting some of their future revenue streams.
“This is an essential step in providing greater clarity around prize money levels that will apply throughout the remainder of the year ahead. More specifically, this includes the return of minimum prize money values to pre Covid-19 levels for all Class 1 races which was considered to be an essential step to support Britain’s Pattern programme and attempt to retain British racing’s pre-eminent position on the global stage. The result is that, from May, the minimum prize money values for all classes of race will have returned to where they were before the pandemic.
“We are extremely grateful to the Horserace Betting Levy Board for the ongoing additional support that is being provided to the sport, but there is clearly still much to be done to deliver prize money levels that would help promote the long term future of racing at all levels.
“Working with racecourses and participants, we will continue to develop the sport to make it attractive to both existing and new customers and investors. In addition, racing continues to liaise with Government and the appropriate bodies around the return of owners and spectators to race meetings, the delivery and distribution of the Government’s £40m winter survival fund, the potential impact of the Gambling Commission’s consultation on remote customer interaction, and proposals for urgent reform of the Levy.”
Some of the key considerations regarding the 2021 Fixture List are as follows:
Size of the Fixture List
At all stages the Fixture List has been developed with a view to maximising revenue for the sport and participants, while safeguarding participant wellbeing and taking account of the horse population.
The size of the Fixture List through the remainder of 2021 is in line with recent years. Given the continuing absence of spectators, however, the Fixture List and the timing of races will continue to be designed with a view to supporting betting revenues.
A summary of detail around the size of the 2021 Fixture List is as follows:
- A total of 1,486 fixtures have been scheduled, compared to 1,491 in 2020;
- Ratio of fixtures in 2021 – Jump: 39.6%, Flat Turf 37.8%, All Weather 22.5% (2020: Jump: 39.37%, Flat Turf 37.69%, All Weather 22.94%);
- 897 Flat fixtures scheduled (5 fewer than in 2020). Of these fixtures, 562 are Flat Turf fixtures (two more than 2020) while 335 are All Weather fixtures (seven fewer than originally scheduled in 2020);
- 589 Jump fixtures scheduled;
- By betting session, there will be 1,079 afternoon fixtures (nine more than 2020) and 407 evening (or floodlit) fixtures (four fewer than 2020.
Easier fixture moves
Alongside the scheduling of fixtures across the day, owing to the absence of spectators the Fixture List has also been adjusted at Easter when, historically, greater numbers of fixtures have been programmed to encourage attendances.
Details of resultant fixture moves are included under Notes to Editors.
Reduction in volume of Flat races in July and August
Whilst maintaining fixture volume is important to protect income streams, including levy, some additional measures are required in the height of the summer to support the competitiveness of races, when field sizes are traditionally at their lowest.
In addition, consideration has been given to the potential for the numbers of horses in training in this period to be impacted as a result of the impact of the Covid pandemic. While figures for the numbers of horses in training have so far remained relatively stable, the sport is forecasting for a potential reduction in the number of two-year-olds in 2021 as an inevitable consequence of the pandemic.
It has therefore been agreed that there will be a reduction of around 70 in the number of races that will be programmed across these two months.
Jockeys to continue to ride at a maximum of one meeting per day
Since the resumption of racing in 2020, riders have been restricted to attending one meeting per day as part of the continuing Covid protocols. This has been well received by jockeys on the whole, who have cited well-being benefits as a result.
Once the Covid-protocols are no longer required, this approach will be reviewed, including assessing the impact on other sectors of the sport, however in the meantime this system will remain in place, an approach which has been agreed between the BHA and Professional Jockeys Association (PJA).
Ahead of that review, the number of Flat jockeys likely to be available at any one time means that a maximum of five Flat fixtures will be staged on any single day.
There are a small number of days during the summer when, historically, there have been more than five Flat fixtures staged. Fixtures from these days have been moved to alternative dates in the Fixture List. In total, 18 fixtures have been moved for one year only.
Notes to editors:
1. Fixture moves over the Easter period are as follows:
- Fakenham 05/04 moved to 30/03
- Stratford 03/04 moved to 29/03
- Huntingdon 05/04 moved to 12/04
- Kempton 03/04 moved to 05/04 for ITV Racing coverage
2. Under the Members’ Agreement signed by the BHA, the Racecourse Association and parties within the Horsemen’s Group, ‘headline fixture policy points’ and ‘the indicative size of the Fixture List’ are classified as tripartite decision-making areas requiring a simple majority, although final decisions on these matters are taken by the BHA Board.
3. The industry’s Executive Committee was created under the Members’ Agreement and comprises Julie Harrington (BHA), David Armstrong (RCA) and Charlie Liverton (on behalf of the members of the Horsemen’s Group).
4. Minimum prize money values are as follows:
5. Horses in training data:
6. A summary of the size of the fixture list in comparison to recent years is as follows: