Racing all summer in 2001

This year's controversial non-stop summer of racing is to be repeated in 2001. Publication yesterday of the fixture list for next year showed that meetings are scheduled for 14 successive Sundays from 3 June to 2 September. A similar programme in 2000 produced over 100 days' racing without a break.

This year's controversial non-stop summer of racing is to be repeated in 2001. Publication yesterday of the fixture list for next year showed that meetings are scheduled for 14 successive Sundays from 3 June to 2 September. A similar programme in 2000 produced over 100 days' racing without a break.

The BHB executive John Smee stressed that the extended Sunday programme - part of an unchanged total of 20 Sunday meetings through the year - must be given a chance. As this year, there will also be a reduced number of summer Saturday evening meetings.

"A review of the Sunday programme cannot be made until after this summer," Smee said. "No decision can be made until we've experienced the product."

Some critics of the non-stop racing programme have called for a blank day on a Monday, but that was not an option considered for the 2001 list. Smee said: "I am sure that will a subject for debate for years to come but we are not at that stage yet."

There will be 1,212 fixtures next year - an increase of three on 2000 - but Smee gave short shrift to claims that there is too much racing. "There are concerns for stable staff, but the competitive nature of racing is increasing. The average number of runners is up and there is no downturn in the amount bet," he said. "There is a rise in eliminations and we are dividing more handicaps - none of which suggests there is too much racing."

BIG-RACE DATES IN 2001:

Tote Gold Trophy 10 Feb; Racing Post Chase 24 Feb; Cheltenham Festival 13-15 Mar; Lincoln 24 Mar 24; Grand National 7 Apr; Scottish Grand National 21 Apr; Whitbread Gold Cup 28 Apr; 2,000 Guineas 5 May; 1,000 Guineas 6 May; Oaks 8 Jun; Derby 9 Jun; Royal Ascot 19-22 Jun; Eclipse Stakes 7 Jul; King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes 28 Jul; Glorious Goodwood 31 Jul-4 Aug; Ebor Meeting 21-23 Aug; St Leger 15 Sep; Ayr Gold Cup 22 Sep; Ascot Festival 29-30 Sep; Cambridgeshire 6 Oct; Champion Stakes 20 Oct; November Handicap 10 Nov; Thomas Pink Gold Cup 17 Nov; Hennessy Gold Cup 1 Dec; King George VI Chase 26 Dec; Welsh National 27 Dec.

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