The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) today publishes the Fixture List for 2013, confirming an increase of eight in the overall number of fixtures to make a total of 1,464.
BHA Chief Executive Paul Bittar also outlined the BHA's long-term objectives for the Fixture List. These objectives include:
- Ensuring British Racing retains its pre-eminent position of quality in world racing
- Providing the right opportunities for horsemen and horses
- A continued focus on developing stronger, more aligned commercial links with the betting industry
- Providing clear differentiation of fixtures in order to increase the sport's appeal to consumers
In relation to the 2013 Fixture List, Paul Bittar, Chief Executive of the BHA, said:
"The BHA's responsibility is to provide a framework of fixtures that enables British Racing to fulfil its commercial potential while driving our international position of delivering high-quality racing of great variety throughout the calendar year. The process by which the 2013 Fixture List has been compiled has been more structured and inclusive than previously, and this is seen as a positive within the sport.
"While acknowledging the constraints placed upon the sport due to a slight reduction in the number of horses in training, for 2013 we have sought as far as possible to meet the needs of horsemen and the demands of our varied customers. The Fixture List is structured to generate the optimum amount of revenue for British Racing, which in turn should deliver increased returns to horsemen. The sport's central funding model remains in need of significant reform, but other metrics point to a sport in good health and demand.
"We’re coming off the back of a year of record racecourse attendances in 2011, and 2013 marks the dawn of an exciting new era as Channel 4 take over the reins as the sport’s exclusive terrestrial broadcaster, covering 90 days of racing a year."
The development of the 2013 Fixture List was overseen by the BHA through the Fixture Review Group, which was established to ensure broader and clearer representation of the sport's stakeholders. The headline figures for the 2013 Fixture List are:
- The total number of fixtures scheduled has increased from 1,456 to 1,464
- 890 Flat and 574 Jump fixtures (2012: 876 and 580 respectively)
- Flat fixtures are made up of 583 Turf fixtures and 307 AWT fixtures (2012: 583 and 293 respectively)
- By session there are 1,113 afternoon fixtures, 253 evening fixtures and 98 twilight fixtures (2012: 1,096, 262 and 98 respectively)
The following fixture moves for 2013 provide evidence of the strategy of shaping the Fixture List to meet the demand of the sport's customers:
- The move of 14 Enterprise Fixtures into vacant criteria slots. This has enabled the Levy Board criteria slots to be satisfied whilst only increasing total meetings by eight
- An additional Twilight Fixture on the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival
- Additional afternoon meetings on the Tuesday of Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood
- The move of the Coral Welsh National meeting to a Saturday to assist with Channel 4 coverage
Paul Bittar added:
"Any increase in the overall number of fixtures has the potential to impact on field sizes in view of a slightly reduced horse population. Ensuring competitive field sizes will be a challenge but where necessary we’re prepared to make changes to our racing and handicapping policies to assist this. There is an important distinction between the Fixture List and the Race Programme: a priority in developing the Fixture List is to be consumer-focused to optimise income streams of British Racing, while it is the role of the Race Programme to reflect the needs of horsemen and the horse population.
"We remain confident of agreeing terms on the 52nd Levy Scheme in advance of the 31st October deadline. This confidence has enabled us to publish the entire Fixture List for 2013, without the need to hold any fixtures or details back. In future, we would like to develop a fixture funding model that provides greater incentives for racecourses to enhance returns to horsemen by meeting the demands of the betting industry.
"A key challenge is to increase the income the sport generates centrally through betting, and demonstrating an appetite to meet the commercial demands of our customers will help us to deliver that objective. Earlier this year saw the landmark deal with Betfair, an agreement that we hope paves the way for further commercial arrangements with betting operators.
"A Fixture List of this size would also benefit significantly from much greater product differentiation. Ideally fixtures would be classified according to their value and customer appeal, and in a manner that is simply understood by both genuine fans of the sport and the everyday punter. This will be a challenge but it is a concept that we intend to develop."