Demand for quality forces fixture list cut
Tuesday 08 April 2008
Racing's rulers are finally admitting that the relentless expansion of British race meetings over the past three decades – a record 1,504 fixtures are taking place this year – has created a bloated beast that must be subdued.
Cutting the number of race meetings is among the key recommendations of a strategic review disclosed yesterday by the British Horseracing Authority. Sunday racing is also to be reduced. This year racing takes place on every single Sunday. But soon, there could be one blank Sunday every month. Many evening fixtures – particularly in winter – will be axed too.
Other key recommendations include finding a way to prevent horses rated 40 or below from being eligible to run in Flat races from the beginning of the 2009 season. Races consisting of horses rated that lowly are an unedifying spectacle. The new insistence on higher standards is part of the recognition that the march to put quantity before quality has to be halted.
Back in 1991 there were 1,059 meetings with a total of 6,748 races. By 2003 that had grown to 1220 (8,028 races). This year's list of more than 1,500 cards will take the number of races above the 9,000 mark.
Morag Gray, an independent director of the BHA and former chief executive at Hamilton racecourse, said the review marked a major shift in policy. "There was an overwhelming message that we have reached a turning point in terms of quality versus quantity and the many downsides that this is having on our sport," Gray said.
Paul Roy, the chairman of the BHA, added: "All sports and leisure activities are facing many challenges and opportunities as markets change and evolve. By preparing for action now, in full possession of the relevant facts, we will be able to preserve and enhance the leading position that British racing enjoys, and strengthen our foundations for future growth."
First commissioned in May 2007, the review sought to establish an optimal plan as concern had been expressed by many of the sport's participants that the fixture list had become over-extended. The results, released by the BHA, suggest expansion should be reversed through BHA-owned fixtures, with winter evening meetings to be cut and fixture-free Sundays introduced. In addition, the BHA wants to co-ordinate attempts to resolve geographical imbalances on a given raceday.
One problem is that the majority of fixtures are owned by racecourses. Cutting back these cards could only be implemented in discussions with tracks, as well as with the Levy Board, and with bookmakers.
All-weather racing has been a major contributor to the barrage of racing that confronts today's race-goers and punters. Yesterday's review puts forward two specific recommendations – to work with Flat racecourses to provide a balanced distribution of AW cards across the summer, and to introduce a rule that "the movement of an AW fixture into the summer at the expense of a Turf fixture will in future require the Authority's approval".
There will be no shortage of quality at next week's Newmarket Craven meeting. Henry Cecil's Twice Over is far shorter in the betting for the Derby than the 2,000 Guineas, but could yet take in the one-mile Classic and will be on trial next week.
"He's done very well and worked nicely on Saturday, Henry was very pleased with him," Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, said yesterday. "We'll see how he runs there and obviously if he goes very well we'd have to look at the 2,000 Guineas."
Nap: Playtotheaudience(Southwell 4.00)
NB: Riguez Dancer (Sedgefield 2.20)
Latest in Sport
Jose Mourinho claims Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid team-mates spend too much time looking in the mirror
Ashley Cole and Luke Shaw rise to the bait to deny they are the rumoured 'gay England footballer'
Former British tennis No 1 Elena Baltacha told she has liver cancer
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United: Robin van Persie wrong to label Wayne Rooney a space invader
Robin van Persie: Manchester United manager David Moyes a 'little bit surprised' after striker plays 90 minutes for Netherlands day after being sick
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
- 3 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role to marry Natasha Richardson
- 5 Livr: A social network only for drunk people
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...