Newcastle will stage 13 more fixtures in 2017 than this year
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
By Jon Lees 1:29PM 1 AUG 2016
THE 2017 fixture list will expand to its highest figure since 2010 after the BHA on Monday published a programme that will comprise 1,496 meetings, 14 more than this year, across 363 days.
The first list compiled under the new tripartite structure of BHA, racecourses and horsemen promises a series of enhancements designed to increase betting, grow attendances, improve efficiency for participants and expand consumer and media interest.
There will be six more Flat meetings, eight more over jumps and nine extra on the all-weather, when for the first time there will be six racecourses staging all-weather fixtures, within a total of 894 Flat and 602 jumps fixtures. The rise in the number of all-weather fixtures to 324, from 315 in 2016, increases the proportion of all-weather racing within the Flat programme to 36.2 per cent.
But the biggest shake-up is among the twilight and evening racing schedule as a result of which, in a shift away from the demands of the retail betting sector towards the online market, the 2017 schedule includes year-round Saturday evening racing, of which 11 will be under floodlights over the winter.
There are 71 more evening fixtures which rise to 333, from 262 in 2016, with twilight meetings, introduced to bridge the gap between afternoon and evening betting shop operations, cut to 48, from 105 this year and 111 in 2015, most scheduled on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Among other initiatives to grow attendances there will be three new self-funded fixtures on Saturday afternoons at York, Chester and Musselburgh, on Easter Saturday.
On Good Friday there will be three fixtures as Newcastle and Bath will race alongside All-Weather finals day at Lingfield with Arena Racing Company continuing to support the Lambourn Open Day.
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.”
Rust added: “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.”