” title=”The changes have been made to improve competitiveness in the sport”
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The changes have been made to improve competitiveness in the sport
By Lewis Porteous
Racing’s leaders have cut approximately 170 races from the 2023 summer programme and redistributed some of them through the autumn as part of a series of measures aimed at improving the competitiveness of races in Britain next year.
The package includes a reduction of races at times of the year when field sizes are most under pressure, changes to the types of race being scheduled and overseas runners being permitted to compete in low-grade handicaps again.
Wednesday’s announcement follows the meeting of British racing’s Industry Strategy Group last month, when it was agreed immediate adjustments were required to drive increased competitiveness in 2023, before wider changes to the sport, including the fixture list, would be considered from 2024 onwards.
In a bid to tackle the volume of races, the maximum number of programmed races for meetings in July and August on the Flat will be reduced from an average of 6.5 to six at all meetings at which total prize-money does not exceed £200,000, a move that will remove approximately 120 races across those two months.
To mitigate the financial impact of that reduction to the sport, all-weather meetings will be permitted to programme eight races in October and November, with the option to divide to nine.
Over jumps in July and August, the maximum number of programmed races for fixtures with prize-money not exceeding £200,000 will be reduced from seven to six, and in September from an average of 6.5 to six, leading to the reduction of approximately 50 races across that period. The average number of programmed races at such meetings will then rise from 6.5 to seven in October and November, adding ten to 15 races in those months.
- 120 races cut in July and August, with maximum six races programmed at fixtures with less than £200,000 prize-money (races can still divide to create longer cards)
- All-weather fixtures allowed to programme eight races in October and November
- Cut 40-50 races in July and August, with maximum six races programmed at fixtures with less than £200,000 prize-money (races can still divide to create longer cards)
- Add 10-15 races to meetings in October and November
- Allow overseas-trained runners to participate in low-grade handicaps except when there are insufficient opportunities for British-trained horses
- Review the Pattern and Listed race programme for both Flat and jumps
A number of alterations to the race programme have also been agreed on the Flat and over jumps, removing the worst-performing races.
On the Flat, a third of the worst-performing conditions races will be removed and 10-12 per cent of Class 2 and 3 handicaps will be altered. Subject to a review of two-year-old numbers in early 2023, there will be a realignment of the programme of nursery handicaps to better fit the requirements of the population, as well as a reduction of 10-12 per cent of such races in July and August. The impact of the Racing League on the rest of the race programme will also be reviewed, with changes to the race conditions considered.
Over jumps, the weight-for-age novice chase programme from May to August will be replaced with a programme of Class 3 novice handicap chases, although these will also be reduced by 10-15 per cent. The programme of handicap chases will also be realigned to better fit the horse population, affecting approximately ten per cent of Class 3 and 4 handicap chases.
title=”Richard Wayman: “pleasing that agreement has been reached quickly on this package of measures which will drive improvements in competitiveness””
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Richard Wayman: “pleasing that agreement has been reached quickly on this package of measures which will drive improvements in competitiveness”
BHA chief operating officer Richard Wayman said: “There was agreement across our industry that while a more strategic approach is required to secure a vibrant future for racing, action was needed more immediately to address issues around the competitiveness of the sport we are presenting to the public.
“It is pleasing that agreement has been reached quickly on this package of measures which will drive improvements in competitiveness next year. We can now focus slightly further ahead and seek to develop and introduce more fundamental changes to grow the appeal of racing to fans and customers in 2024 and beyond.”
It was also announced on Wednesday that overseas-trained runners will be able to participate in low-grade handicaps, except during those times of the year when there are insufficient opportunities for British-trained runners, specifically on the Flat from September 1 to December 31. This change will come into effect from the beginning of 2023.
The BHA has also said it is working with the respective pattern committees – the European Pattern Committee for the Flat and the Jumps Pattern Committee for the jumps – to review the Pattern and Listed race programmes for both codes.
On the Flat, discussions with racecourses are ongoing with an ambition to “strengthen, refine and consolidate” the black-type programme. Racing leaders say this is part of a two-year plan with the intention being to create a reduction in the number of Flat black-type races in 2023, alongside setting a broader vision for 2024 of more significant change.
Racehorse Owners Association chief executive Charlie Liverton said: “Racing’s participants have been voicing their frustration regarding the race programming and the side-effects of the current structure for some time. I am pleased that this has been recognised and moreover, working with the BHA and racecourses, has helped shape a workable solution.
“This is an important marker that the industry is moving in the right direction, and we can now turn our attention to long-term strategy planning.”
David Armstrong, chief executive of the Racecourse Association, added: “Following on from the two-day strategy meeting in London, it is very encouraging to see the sport come together and make some meaningful changes for the 2023 calendar.
“While the core of the strategy output will be delivered in 2024, the RCA and its members are fully supportive of these short-term interventions, which will definitely improve competitiveness in the short term.”
‘It’s a start’ says Paul Nicholls as trainers give thumbs up to 170-race cull (£)
Elliott among trainers to welcome U-turn on low-grade ban for overseas horses (£)
Comment: We’re doing something – but less racing is an odd thing to be cheering for (£)
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