Newcastle Racecourse to participate in the 2016 Fixture Allocation Process as an All Weather Track

09 Jun 2015 Racecourse Racing/Fixtures
  • BHA Board approves application from Arena Racing Company
  • Flat turf track to be converted to an All Weather surface, with a floodlit straight mile
  • Commitments secured regarding prize money and quality of the Flat and Jump race programme

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today confirmed that its Board has approved an application from Arena Racing Company (ARC) for Newcastle Racecourse to participate in the fixture allocation process for 2016 as an All Weather Track.

The conversion of Newcastle’s existing 15 Flat turf Racecourse Fixtures to an All Weather Track has also been approved, with the crucial determining factor being the demand for such a track in the North.

The application was discussed at the BHA Board’s meeting in April, with discussions taking place with ARC’s management since then. A series of commitments have been obtained from ARC regarding prize money levels and the quality of the race programme for existing Flat Racecourse Fixtures at Newcastle being maintained and enhanced. Similarly, ARC’s executive contribution to any existing All Weather Racecourse Fixtures that may be transferred to Newcastle from other courses will be maintained.

At the same time, no guarantees have been provided as to the number of BHA Fixtures that Newcastle might obtain under the relevant allocation process for 2016 and beyond.

In respect of Rule (F)26.1, which states that in each day’s programme of racing, there must be two races of a mile or upwards, of the minimum aggregate distance of two miles and a half, it has been agreed that where necessary some Twilight and/or Floodlit Fixtures will commence between 15 and 35 minutes earlier than standard, with this kept under review. Again, it has been made clear that no guarantee can be offered that Twilight Fixtures will continue in their current form in perpetuity, or that the proposal to start them earlier will be maintained.

BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust said:

“This was not a straightforward decision for the BHA Board, with a number of factors taken into account, and the matter discussed at some length. We are conscious that a broad range of views exist within the sport as to the proposals at Newcastle, but were mindful in particular of the demand that exists for an All Weather Track in the North.

“We all have aspirations for our sport to grow, to reach new audiences and to improve the returns for those working in British Racing. Ensuring that we make best use of our current horse population must therefore be a priority, not just through the development of an All Weather Track in the North but through a more holistic approach to race planning. The plans at Newcastle also represent a considerable investment in the sport, including in public facilities at the racecourse, with benefits for its wider community.

“This approval should not, however, be taken as an indication of a significant expansion in the number of All Weather fixtures or indeed an increase in the Fixture List overall in the short term. All Weather racing has an important part to play, but its future role and scale within British Racing requires careful consideration, and we must ensure that there is an appropriate balance within the Fixture List.”

Notes to Editors

1.    Following the initial consultation phase, which included gathering feedback through direct engagement with stakeholders, the BHA has now begun the process of working with racecourses and other relevant parties to determine the precise make-up of the 2016 Fixture List.

2.    It is not yet known how many Leasehold Fixtures will be allocated as part of this process, nor has the final size of the 2016 Fixture List yet been determined. However, there was a broad acceptance amongst stakeholders as part of the consultation that there should not be a material change to the number of fixtures which comprise the Fixture List, and a strong majority view that the size of the Fixture List should not increase given the current trends in field sizes, which will be a priority consideration in the compilation of the 2016 Fixture List.

3.    The BHA’s intention is to publish the Fixture List earlier in the year than last year’s mid-October publication date.