Return of the Racecourse: BHA’s new plan for British Racing
Following the success of race meetings held in 2021, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has increased the amount of Saturday and Sunday meetings in the British Racing 2022 fixture list. A new set of ‘rider limited fixtures’ has been announced, with the goal of improving participant well-being.
The 2022 British racing fixture list outlines an increased number of weekend meetings and prizemoney funding. These additional fixtures aim to improve the number of attendees, T.V viewership and betting handles. The improved fixture list will also provide attendees with a more exciting experience as the meetings become more competitive.
Extended Saturday & Sunday Races
As we enter the post-COVID era, the BHA have decided to add additional meetings to the 2022 Saturday and Sunday fixture list to increase revenue and racecourse attendance.
The BHA has introduced a sixth race across 10 Saturdays and 8 Sundays in the hopes of increasing viewership. The additional Saturday events are likely to draw a crowd of around 7,500 people, with the racecourse’s executive contribution to prizemoney estimated to be no less than £100,000 on Saturday.
Saturday additional races:
- Chelmsford City – 14th May, 28th May, 10th September
- Cartmel – 28th May, 16th July
- Chester – 11th June, 16th July, 24th September
- Perth – 18th June, 13th August
The BHA has also approved additional summer fixtures to improve the quality of racing on Sunday afternoons. All events are likely to receive prize money from the ‘Horserace Betting Levy Board,’ worth at least £65,000 in executive payments.
Sunday additional races:
- Hamilton – 8th May
- York – 22nd May
- Musselburgh – 5th June
- Chelmsford City – 3rd June, 24th July, 14th August
- Haydock Park – 7th August
- Sandown Park – 21st August
COVID safety measures
The BHA issued COVID-19 guidelines and operation procedures in 2021, with the goal of ensuring the safety of all racing industry participants, officials, and racecourse employees who attend race meets.
One key measure includes splitting the racecourse into two control zones: ‘Green’ and ‘Amber.’ Infection control measures will be strictly enforced in the ‘Green Zone,’ and entry will be restricted. Within this zone, existing control measures such as social distancing, entry screening, and mandatory face coverings will continue to exist.
All other sections of the racecourse, including the Parade Ring and Racecourse Stables, will be included in the ‘Amber Zone.’ Owners will still be able to access the Parade Ring, but numbers will be limited to comply with social distancing requirements.
What is the Recovery Plan for British Racing?
In 2020, BHA released a 9-step racecourse recovery plan outlining the measures taken to ensure a safe return for spectators to the racecourses. Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the Racehorse Owners Association, highlighted how the Recovery Plan for British Racing prioritises the conversation of the future of horseracing, and is confident that the industry can work together to complete these actions.
The key focus of the racing Recovery Plan is to allow as many spectators to return to racecourses as safely possible, maximising revenue and providing the best possible experience for spectators. All goals have been set with social distancing and government guidelines at the forefront.
What are the nine goals within the Recovery Plan for British Racing?
The Recovery Plan for British Racing strategy outlines the nine following goals for the safe return of spectators to racecourses:
- To provide the best experience to spectators with maximum racecourse attendance as safely possible
- Health and safety of staff, participants and attendees, adhering to social distancing guidelines
- A fixture list and race programme to be put in place for 2021 with the wellbeing of horseracing staff, participants and attendees at the forefront
- Reduce the industry’s cost base and identify new opportunities to increase revenue
- Maximise prize money as much as possible
- Agree on a spending plan
- Retain key investors
- Safe, high quality and consistent offers to race day and betting customers
- Foundations for longer-term recovery of British racing
When did British racecourses fully reopen?
Boris Johnson announced that racecourses would fully reopen from Monday, July 19th, 2021. Since this announcement, we have seen the fantastic return of the Cheltenham Festival (16th-19th March 2021) and the jewel in the summer sporting calendar, Royal Ascot (15th-19th June 2021.)
In 2020, new government restrictions were confirmed, such as the 10pm curfew and ‘rule of six’ due to a spike in coronavirus cases during the winter. As a result, spectators were unable to return to racecourses in early 2021.
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS), stated that ‘it’s important that we take a cautious, phased approach to bring further fans back to stadiums as soon as possible.’
Cheltenham Festival was able to return following the relaxation of COVID-19 rules and regulations, but without the presence of spectators – a meeting unlike any other. Fortunately, racegoers were able to physically attend Royal Ascot in June, albeit at reduced numbers with only 12,000 racegoers in attendance this year.
Horseracing was the first sport to return behind closed doors but thanks to the industry’s efforts to safely return spectators, racegoers can now finally visit their beloved racecourses once again.
We are excited about the return of the Cheltenham Festival as well as Royal Ascot in 2022.