- Fixture List seeks to balance the need to drive engagement and industry revenues with maintaining a compelling racing product and safeguarding participant wellbeing
- Strengthening Sunday racing is a focus for 2022 with the addition of eight valuable summer fixtures
- Introduction of “rider restricted fixtures” to result in longer breaks for most professional riders
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE BRITISH HORSERACING AUTHORITY (BHA), RACECOURSE ASSOCIATION (RCA) AND HORSEMEN’S GROUP (HG)
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today published the full Fixture List for 2022 on behalf of the sport’s tripartite governance structure of BHA, racecourses and horsemen and women.
The industry-agreed objectives of the 2022 Fixture List include encouraging racecourse attendances and driving revenues and engagement, whilst also being mindful of the impact on those servicing fixtures. The Fixture List also aims to deliver a competitive and compelling sport, taking account of the horse population.
The proposed approach to the 2022 Fixture List was developed by industry’s Fixtures and Funding Group, which contains cross-industry representation, and was approved by all members of the Group and the sport’s tripartite Executive Committee. It was developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders and was presented to the BHA Board for approval on Thursday 9 September.
The 2022 Fixture List comprises an initial 1,482 fixtures. This compares with 1,486 fixtures in 2021 with the sport’s Executive Committee having agreed that the 2022 Fixture List should include approximately the same number of programmed fixtures as 2021. Industry discussions regarding the volume of races which will populate the Fixture List are now under way.
A number of significant developments were incorporated into the 2022 List, as follows:
- Sunday racing
An important initiative within the 2022 Fixture List is to seek the strengthen the quality of racing on Sunday afternoons by inviting applications from racecourses to stage additional fixtures during the summer. It is anticipated that such fixtures can support the objectives of driving attendances, betting revenues and general interest levels, especially where those fixtures are covered by ITV.
It is expected that all such fixtures would receive Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) prize money funding with, in addition, racecourses making at least £65,000 in executive contributions towards the prize money on offer meaning that the total available at these meetings will be in six figures.
The following additional fixtures, allocated for one year only, have been included in the 2022 Fixture List as part of this initiative:
- Saturday racing
The BHA Board also approved the programming of additional BHA fixtures as a sixth Flat fixture on a Saturday, provided that the fixture is likely to appeal sufficiently to the sport’s participants and racegoers. Racecourses executive contribution to prize money for such fixtures must be no less than £100,000 and there should be a reasonable expectation that the fixture would attract an attendance of at least 7,500.
A racecourse staging one of these fixtures will also contribute a fee into the BHA Development Fund, which is used to support the programming of races with developmental aims.
The following additional BHA fixtures, allocated for one year only, have been included in the 2022 Fixture List as part of this initiative:
- Participant wellbeing
Following their successful introduction in Ireland, the 2022 fixture list also includes a small number of ‘rider restricted fixtures’ to facilitate the slight extension of breaks for the busiest jockeys in March & November (Flat), and August (Jump).
On the Flat, this will involve these fixtures being confined to riders who rode 30 winners or fewer in the previous calendar year, plus all Apprentices and Claiming professionals. Over Jumps, the fixtures will be confined to riders who rode 20 winners or fewer in the previous calendar year, plus all Conditionals and Claiming professionals.
The following meetings will be rider restricted fixtures in 2022:
- 19/03/22 Wolverhampton
- 31/07/22 Market Rasen
- 26/11/22 Wolverhampton
The introduction of rider restricted fixtures means that the 2022 Fixture List comprises the following code breaks for most professional jockeys. In addition, and following consultation with representatives from the betting industry, the November Flat break has been moved two weeks later to fit in around the timings of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
- Flat: 6 days, 19 March – 24 March (5 days for all riders)
- Jump: 6 days, 24 April – 29 April
- Jump: 14 days, 30 July – 12 August (12 days for all riders)
- Flat 8 days, 20 November – 27 November (6 days for all riders)
- Other initiatives
Other developments included in the 2022 Fixture List include:
- The staging of two floodlit fixtures (rather than just one) on each day of the Cheltenham Festival;
- Adjusting the Fixture List for the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday to ensure a good geographical spread of fixtures over the four days and the introduction of evening meetings on the Bank Holiday Thursday and Friday.
- Afternoon all-weather fixtures in the Christmas period will become floodlit fixtures, thereby opening new betting sessions on these days;
- Staging a trial of race times involving more staggered start times of meetings including some afternoon fixtures on the busiest days not commencing until 3pm.
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. 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 of 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.”
David Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association (RCA) said:
“The 2022 Fixture List continues the themes of innovation and learning from all parts of the sport, including bookmakers. It also reflects some of the findings of Project Enable: for example, the attractiveness of Sunday afternoons and timing of certain fixtures. Other changes that are evident are as a result of feedback from our participants and their wellbeing which of course is a key consideration.
“2022 will be a vital year for racecourses as they look to recover from the pandemic and lost revenues of over £400m whilst still looking to maintain strong prize money levels and this Fixture List is structured in such a way to support this progress.”
Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the Horsemen’s Group, said:
“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 all those invest in this great sport.”