The BHA has responded to concerns around racing’s falling income streams and the wellbeing of its participants by reducing the number of meetings next year.
By cutting 20 BHA-allocated fixtures, the overall number will stand at 1,491 fixtures in 2020, compared to 1,511 this year.
The announcement came after the sport’s governing body carried out an annual review throughout the first half of 2019 to identify recommendations ahead of the publication of the full fixture list in August.
Racing’s current financial outlook is somewhat gloomy. As well as a declining levy yield, which has dropped by £17 million year-on-year, the value of media rights is also falling following the government’s decision to impose a £2 maximum stake on FOBTs, impacting on betting shop numbers. William Hill stated this week that it plans to close 700 outlets.
In a boost to racing’s workforce, the BHA revealed that no races will start later than 9pm at evening fixtures during next summer, and the Christmas break will be extended by an extra day to include Sunday, December 22.
Jump jockeys and National Hunt yards will now benefit from an extended break in August, increased from nine to 12 days.
Work will also continue to create an initiative based around International Women’s Day on March 8, 2020 following new BHA Chair Annamarie Phelps’ comments at the Racecourse Owners Association’s AGM on Tuesday, that the sport should make much more of the participation of its female employees.
Afternoon racing in 2020 will start by 2pm at the latest, while floodlit cards will be limited to seven races so that races can be divided easily if necessary.
Richard Wayman, BHA Chief Operating Officer, said: “We are grateful for the efforts of all those involved in continuing to develop the fixture list so that it best serves the longer-term interests of the sport.
“This is a very positive development that has the potential to support more significant changes to the structure of the fixture list in the future. Our aim is to benefit all the parties directly involved and also help to ensure a growing and vibrant sport that meets the changing demands of its various customers.”
The Fixtures & Funding Group will now make the decision as to exactly which fixtures will be removed in 2020.