Alongside the publication of the 2018 Fixture List today, the BHA, with the support of the RCA and Horsemen’s Group has announced a package of proposals to invest additional Levy income with the aim of delivering three key objectives for the sport – supporting ownership, delivering more competitive and compelling racing, and increasing customer engagement, which will in turn help grow the sport’s future revenues. Along with other horsemen representatives, the NTF was involved in the protracted and complex discussions to agree these measures.
Central to the proposals is an estimated boost of £9.7 million of additional Levy funding targeted at mid and lower-tier racing through increases to prize money funding supported by a new appearance money scheme and race incentive fund. These schemes will improve returns to horsemen and also aim to increase field sizes at Class 3 and below over jumps and Class 4 and below on the flat. As a consequence, most races in Britain (with a small number of exceptions depending on race type) will now be run with a total race value of at least £6,000 from 2018.
Racecourses will be given the opportunity to invest their own revenues to unlock the extra prize money funding and appearance money,which would see qualifying races introduce payments of at least £300 for horses finishing between fifth and eighth place. As a result the overall boost to returns to horsemen at grass roots level will be significantly greater than the extra money invested via the Levy, with an estimated total boost of more than £11m to prize money.
In addition, an existing £6m race incentive fund will continue to incentivise the programming of races at Class 1 to 3, with a £500,000 Development Fund continuing to be used to support longer term strategic initiatives to enhance the breed, alongside £1m of new funding collected through an auction of BHA Fixtures.
It is also the intention that the Plus 10 Bonus Scheme will receive a boost in 2018 with around £300,000 of revenue being invested to support returns to three-year-old staying horses, aligning the scheme with the broader, industry objective to encourage the breeding and racing of stayers.
The proposals are subject to the availability of forecast levy funding and the approval of the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB). They are based on anticipated minimum Levy spend on prize money of £57.4m in 2018, which represents a growth of £8.05m from 2017. Prize money spending efficiencies, including race divisions being funded by the racecourses, will allow for the £9.7m investment in grassroots.
Other headlines include:
- Earliest Fixture List publication since 2009
- Introduction of a week-long break after the Bet365 Jump Finale at Sandown, with the new Jump season proper starting on the following Saturday afternoon at Uttoxeter
- A small number of additional fixtures have been programmed in customer-friendly slots on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons throughout summer with the aim of increasing attendances.
- Around 20 Monday and Tuesday afternoon fixtures, capable of being staged under floodlights in the winter, will have a later start time as a twilight fixture to support changes to the betting market.
- At the time of year when the available horse population means that flat eliminations are at their highest, twilight fixtures will be staged on Monday evenings in September and October.
- With a view to continuing strengthening Sunday racing, an incentive fund will offer support for the staging of a fixture worth at least £70,000
Top line figures from the 2018 Fixture List are:
- A total of 1,508 fixtures have been scheduled, 11 more than planned in 2017.
- Ratio of fixtures in 2018 – Jump: 39.7%, Flat Turf 37.7%, All Weather 22.6% (2017: Jump 40.1% : Flat Turf 38.1% : All Weather 21.8%)
- 910 Flat fixtures scheduled (14 more than in 2017). Of these fixtures, 569 are Flat Turf fixtures (one fewer than 2017) while 341 are All Weather fixtures (15 more than originally scheduled in 2017)
- 598 Jump fixtures scheduled (three fewer than 2017
- By betting session, there will be 1,096 afternoon fixtures (19 fewer than 2017) and 412 evening fixtures (30 more than 2017).