UK racing fixture lists sees minimum values increased

Minimum race values for 2023 UK fixtures have been increased across both jump and flat racing, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has revealed. 

Releasing its fixture list, the BHA, Racecourse Association (RHA) and Thoroughbred Group have boosted the race values for upper and mid-tier fixtures starting from 1 January 2023, with the largest being for group one flat races involving two and three-year-old horses and grade one open jump chases.

The value of these fixtures has risen by £50,000 to £200,000 (2022: £150k), £250,000  (£200k) and £150,000 (£100k) respectively. The second largest increase is for grade one novice jump chases, which has gone up by £35,000 to £80,000 (£45k).

“At a time when the sport is facing a number of challenges, it is particularly important that industry agreement has been reached on raising minimum prize money values,” said Richard Wayman, BHA Chief Operating Officer.

“Owners have always been incredibly loyal in their support of British racing, but we are experiencing a significant growth in the number of higher rated horses being sold overseas and, over Jumps, an increasing number of the best horses being based elsewhere.

“Total prize money will reach record levels this year but, as we enter the yearling sales season, when many owners are making their plans for next year, it is vital that we have been able to announce further steps forward in the guise of increased minimum values for 2023.”

Across the entire jump schedule, the minimum value for grade one hurdles will rise to £100,000 for open races and £60,000 for novice fixtures, an increase of £25,000 and £20,000 on 2022 values of £75,000 and £40,000.

Grade two chases, meanwhile, will have their values increased by £10,000 to £60,000 for open races (£50k) and £8,000 to £40,000 for novice events (£32k), whilst open hurdles will rise by £10,000 to £50,000 (£40k) and novice hurdles will remain the same at £30,000.

A breakdown of remaining flat races sees group two two-year-old fixtures’ values rise from £65,000 to £80,000 and three-year-old events from £90,000 to £100,0000.

Three-year-olds with two handicaps will go up from £19,000 to £25,000, two-year-olds from £14,000 to £18,000, three-year-olds with three handicaps from £11,500 to £15,000 and two-year-olds with three handicaps from £10,000 to £13,000.

“I would like to thank the BHA and the Industry Fixtures & Funding Group for their significant efforts over the past seven months,” said David Armstrong, RCA Chief Executive.

“A number of important initiatives have been agreed during that time, including significant increases in minimum values for many races at all Classes, reducing fixture congestion on Saturday afternoons and the replacement of the Appearance Money Scheme with targeted direct funding.

“Many race types will have significantly increased minimum values in 2023 across the full range of the programme, with increases in those categories affected being almost 25% on average. Against this backdrop, we look forward to the upcoming industry strategy discussions starting in September, which will aim to accelerate the growth of the sport.”

Addressing the fixture list, the BHA, RCA, Thoroughbred Group and Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) noted that the 2023 schedule has been developed to boost the appeal of the sport.

There will now be a maximum of five fixtures on any Saturday afternoon throughout the year, in line with the Levy Board’s decision to fund a maximum of four afternoon races, with total prize money for the fifth fixture set at £150,000.

Additionally, a new fixture will take place at Aintree racetrack on Boxing Day, the S Leger will be run from 7-10 September and the extended November break has been moved later in the month ro avoid international football. 

Further breaks have been scheduled across the two codes – for flat racing, five days between 19-23 March and eight days between 26 November and 4 December; whilst jump racing will be postponed for four days between 2-5 May, excluding the Cheltenham Hunter Chase, and 12 days between 7-18 August.

An increase in code breaks has been accounted for by the use of ‘rider restricted fixtures’, with such events scheduled for 23 December at Lingfield Park, to give riders an extra day off over the Christmas ahead of Boxing Day meetings.

Lastly, two floodlit fixtures will be held each day of the Cheltenham Festival and afternoon all-weather fixtures during Christmas will become floodlit fixtures, to open more betting markets between 27-30 September.

There has, however, been no update on the possibility of the Cheltenham Festival being extended from four days to five, a move which has been considered by UK racing authorities as a means of driving audience numbers. 

“Although the 2023 fixture list includes a number of initiatives, it is similar in size and shape to previous years,” Wyman concluded.

“With work on the Industry Strategy underway, a key area of focus is to ensure that future fixture lists can help grow the appeal of racing to our customers, both existing and new. 

“This will involve delivering a consistently attractive and competitive sport to racegoers, bettors and general racing fans, whilst, of course, taking account of the impact on those who service the fixture list and make it all happen. All of that will require change and the strategic work provides the ideal platform to set our future direction.”

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