British Racing Fixtures to Decline

Following a record 1,504 scheduled racing fixtures in Britain this year, the number for 2009 is set to fall to 1,477.

The decrease of 27 comes after a strategic review by the British Horseracing Authority, which recommended a reduction in the number of evening all-weather (artificial surface) fixtures throughout the winter months.

There will be three rather than four evening all-weather fixtures a week between September and April. No racing will take place on four Sundays during the same period.

Flat racing fixtures will number 911,  which is37 fewer than due this year, while fixtures involving jump racing are set to rise to a record 566.

The drop in overall numbers has been welcomed by some jockeys and trainers, who feel overwhelmed by the current allocation, but has been met with opposition from bookmakers, who had used the winter all-weather fixtures to promote year-round evening opening of their 8,000 betting shops in Britain.
The main funding of British racing is through bookmakers making payments to the Levy Board, which has agreed to maintain funding British prize money at a level of at least £62.5 million for 2009 and 2010.

However, Douglas Erskine-Crum, who has been Levy Board chief executive, warned in a speech to the Racehorse Owners’ Association annual general meeting on June 25 that funding levels are under threat.

He said: "The unpalatable fact is that, unless we get a satisfactory long-term agreement between racing and bookmakers which provides enhanced revenues, we will be a looking at a prize money pool contribution of nearer to £50 million rather than £62.5 million in the future."

He called for measures to increase British racing’s appeal to betting shop bettors who are increasingly wagering on other sports and machines.

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