Wide-spread innovative changes to the 2024 UK fixture list based on several core principles have been approved by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) Board.
Part of British racing's cross industry strategy, the principles will be tested over a two-year period and represent an important first step in delivering a more substantive racing product. The core principles unanimously agreed upon by the BHA Board are as follows:
- A “Premier” racing tier with higher prize-money and more competitive top-quality racing featuring the best horses
- A two-hour “shop window” on most Saturday afternoons with three fixtures, including up to two Premier fixtures, taking place during the peak customer engagement period (usually 2 p.m.-4 p.m.). Other Saturday fixtures will take place outside the protected window
- Piloting six Sunday evening floodlit fixtures between January and March 2024–a time of the week where betting activity tends to be strong
- Boosting Core racing–moving more fixtures later in the day in response to changing customer preferences, making the most of our Core fixtures during major festivals and supporting Summer Jumping
- More competitive racing with a reduction in 300 Jump races across the year, and some Flat races moved from summer to autumn/early winter, based on data showing these measures will help increase field sizes and betting
- Better quality racing on Sunday afternoons, including Premier fixtures.
These measures were created after research and analysis, underpinned by data from betting companies, racecourses, and the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB), as well as customer insight, including from the Horserace Bettors' Forum (HBF), and input from the industry's Fixtures and Funding Group.
Joe Saumarez Smith, Chair of the BHA, said, “The BHA Board endorsed and approved these recommendations because it was clear to us that they were necessary and in the best interests of the sport.
“The information that was presented by the sport's Commercial Committee included detailed consideration of both the upside and downside of all proposals. This allowed the Board to make its decisions based on the complete picture.
“The changes will be tested over an initial two-year period and will be closely evaluated to see how well they work, with the aim of permanently adopting the things that have been a success. I would like to thank the Commercial Committee, and everyone who has been involved in this process, for their work to date. It has been a truly collaborative, cross-industry effort.”
To view Saumarez-Smith's full statement, please go to the BHA website.
Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of the BHA, said, “When the industry's leaders came together in autumn last year, we agreed unanimously that innovation in the way the sport is presented is an absolute necessity. The core principles approved by the BHA Board were identified as the most time sensitive area and the foundation of our wider approach.
“There is still a huge amount to do as we seek to grow and future-proof British racing, but the development of a fixture list that seeks to attract new fans and grow the appeal of our sport to existing customers represents an important first step.”
David Jones, Chair of the cross-industry Commercial Committee, said, “I'm very grateful to all members of the Commercial Committee for their contributions through this extensive process. The sport needs to progress with the measures that have been agreed by the Board, in order to bring about the growth which will benefit all parts of the industry.”
The Professional Jockeys Association released a statement that read: “The PJA understands and remains fully engaged with the need for the fixture list to continue to evolve. There remain challenges ahead for all stakeholders, however it is vital that all parties involved continue to work together to ensure that British racing remains competitive and relevant whilst maintaining opportunities for horses and their connections under both codes.
“With another extensive fixture list for next year, we welcome the confirmation of clear code breaks for participants, which we have steadfastly supported, alongside further potential initiatives to be announced in the coming months.
“The PJA supports a pilot for the six Sunday evening floodlit fixtures on the understanding that our members are rewarded appropriately for these fixtures.
“The PJA thanks all concerned for their work to date on these initiatives.”
For more information on the 2024 fixture list and approved changes, as well as the core principles, please click here.