Strengthening the quality of action on Sunday afternoons is a key aspect for horseracing’s leaders as outlined in the publication of the fixture list for 2022 by the British Horseracing Authority on Monday.
The sport’s tripartite governors will invite racecourses to apply to stage these Sunday fixtures during the summer that will hopefully drive attendances, betting revenues and general interest levels.
It is anticipated that the Sunday fixtures will receive prize-money funding from the Horserace Betting Levy Board alongside racecourses making at least £65,000 in contribution towards each meeting, taking the funds available to six figures.
Eight additional fixtures have been allocated to Hamilton, York, Musselburgh, Chelmsford City, Haydock and Sandown as part of this initiative for 2022, for one year only.
Further initiatives agreed for 2022 include programming ten additional BHA fixtures as a sixth meeting on a Saturday and the introduction of rider restricted fixtures to give both Flat jockeys and National Hunt riders a slight extension of breaks.
The 2022 fixture list comprises 1,482 meetings, down on 1,486 fixtures staged in 2021.
Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer for the BHA, said: “In producing the 2022 fixture list, our overarching aim has been to enhance the appeal of racing to its followers. As ever, this has involved balancing a number of considerations, such as seeking to deliver a competitive and compelling sport, whilst also supporting the revenues that encourage the acquisition and retention of owners and their horses.
“Our overarching aim has been to enhance the appeal of racing to its followers”
“Also, staging fixtures at times when the public can enjoy them whilst also being mindful of the wellbeing impact on the participants who service them.
“Fixture policy is an area of tripartite decision making and, whilst there will inevitably be differences of opinion from time to time, there is complete agreement that the fixture list must continue to evolve as we listen to what racegoers, fans of the sport and the betting industry’s customers, are telling us.
“We have built on some of the initiatives trialled during the pandemic, such as the creation off additional relatively high value meetings on Sundays, and we will continue to look for more opportunities to use the fixture list to support the future of the sport.”
Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the Horsemen’s Group, added: “The fixture list is the sport’s main income driver, whether that is for participants or racecourses. It is therefore paramount that it meets the evolving needs of the horse population and those who choose to invest in British racing, either as owners or breeders, and those who are fans of the sport, be that as a punter, sponsor, or racegoer.
“The pandemic has been an opportunity for racing to consider new initiatives, including during the compilation of the 2022 fixture list.
“We must continue to look at ways of meeting the needs of the horse population, bookmakers and racings fans to ensure that, as a sport, we remain relevant and competitive.
“The fixture list and the funding of the race programme is at the heart of the retention and growth of horses in training, which in turn directly or indirectly unlocks all of racings income streams. We look forward to further discussions around ensuring the fixture list meets the needs of those invested in this great sport.”