HBLB funds additional fixtures for British racing's return

3 June 2020

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has added nine further racing fixtures to its revised schedule, after the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) agreed to provide additional funding for the meetings.

Racing returned in England on 1 June after all events had been postponed since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The BHA last month published a revised fixture list for the resumption of racing, featuring 292 meetings over three months to the end of August.

This list will be expanded with additional fixtures across nine courses, with the first extra meeting to take place at Wolverhampton on 10 June.

Fixtures are also scheduled for 11 June at Newbury, 15 June at Kempton Park, 16 June at Chelmsford City, 30 June at Leicester, 2 July at Catterick Bridge, 6 July at Thirsk, 13 July at Ayr in Scotland, as well as 14 July at Ripon.

The BHA said the additional fixtures will be programmed to provide more depth to offer increased opportunities for horses rated in the 50s and high 40s, as well as to provide more depth to the overall race programme.

This follows the announcement last week that Scottish racing is set to resume on 22 June, as well as confirmation yesterday (2 June) that meetings will return in Wales from 15 June.

The HBLB will fund the additional races, having already agreed to increase the amount of prize money on offer during the first 10 weeks of the return to racing to help offset money lost during the Covid-19 enforced suspension.

“The three new fixtures next week are in recognition of the high level of immediate demand to run, which is a reflection of the loyalty and commitment of racehorse owners having kept their horses in training,” HBLB operations manager Tom Byrne said.

“We are therefore pleased to be able to provide the funding for these and for additional fixtures when no Irish racing is being staged. This funding is on top of our previously announced £15.7m for the first 10 weeks of racing and gives further opportunity to maximise the exposure of British Racing.”

BHA head of racing Paul Johnson said that further meetings could be added to the fixture list when jump racing returns in July, after which the organisation will have greater clarity about the sport’s income streams.

Johnson added: “Both the fixture list and race programme for the weeks and months ahead are constantly evolving, as we aim to provide as many chances to run as we can for all sectors of the horse population.

“With the Levy Board being asked to provide almost all of the funding for fixtures, we are currently limited to staging three fixtures on most days rather than the five or six we would normally schedule at this time of year.”

“Competition for places in all races is expected and it is not possible at present to stage as many races as we would like, but we are trying to provide races as and where we can for horses and their owners who have stood by the sport despite the recent uncertainty.”