The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has revealed a series of modifications for its 2024 fixture list, intended to reverse a decline in betting on British races. The changes include increasing prize money and the quality of horses for 170 “Premier Racedays,” along with investments to enhance Sunday racing and bolster competitiveness across the fixture list.
The BHA has announced that these changes are part of a new long-term industry strategy, set to run for a two-year trial. The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) will support the plans by providing an additional £3.8m in funding.
To support the betting side of racing, the BHA has set out three primary, betting-related targets for the 2024 season. The first goal is to spread fixtures across Saturdays, with only three races during the protected window between 2pm and 4pm on 32 Saturdays. The organization aims to boost total betting activity throughout the day by 6% to 7% compared to the current more concentrated spread of meetings.
The second target is to introduce a new betting session on Sunday evenings, with the goal of increasing turnover between 15% and 20% compared to midweek floodlit fixtures. Lastly, the BHA aims to slow the decline in betting on British racing by introducing more Premier Fixtures, which are known to perform 1% to 2% better than other fixtures.
These targets are expected to address the decline in betting activity by enhancing the spread of fixtures on Saturdays, introducing competitive Sunday fixtures, and adding more Premier events to the fixture list.
The BHA estimates that if these proposed changes and others for 2024 are implemented, they could improve racing’s finances by approximately £90m over a five-year period compared to if no changes were made.
However, the BHA does not support the proposal for affordability checks, calling them “not appropriate” and opposing such an approach. Julie Harrington, the BHA managing director, criticized the plans at a BHA-hosted reception at the houses of parliament back in September.