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Schedule – November 2015

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Dan Kelly’s FFP – Week 4

Super Saturday – It’s British Champions’ Day’s fault


In 2008 BHA published the findings report of a Strategic Review of the Fixture List; it showed that the combined revenue of Friday and Saturday fixtures was £117 million (47% of the £249 million total) in 2006.


“In terms of profitability, Saturday alone generates 27% of raceday profit, and Friday/Saturday combined generates 48% of raceday profit from only 34% of the fixtures.”


Sunday was ranked 6th in average fixture revenue by day (£154k) and last when ranked in average fixture profit by day (£52.8k).


Revenue by month peaked in July with £26.3m and ranked highest when averaged per fixture (£199k). Similarly when looking at profit per month; July £10.9m average per fixture of £82k.


So, the ideal fixture for a racecourse is Friday and Saturday meeting in July.


Last weekend Saturday afternoon fixtures were Ascot, Chester, Newmarket and York. Ascot, Chester and York all hosted a card on Friday; Newmarket was the culmination of their July Festival Meeting (Thursday – Friday). Perfect business sense.


Bookmakers cried foul. Moans and groans in the lead up to the weekend about feast and famine. But here we had a fixture list where courses were maximising profits, featuring premier races, and were geographically sound: North – York;  Midlands – Newmarket; South – Ascot. You can’t win them all Mr Bookmaker.


In 2010 along came British Champions’ Day, “the richest fixture in British racing history, will be introduced from 2011, offering more than £3 million of prize money.”


The problem was that the Champion Stakes was at Newmarket. Newmarket, a Jockey Club Racecourse, was very aware of the profitability of Saturday racing and agreed an additional ‘premier’ Saturday meeting during the transfer of fixtures.


Hello Super Saturday!


Now Super Saturday is nigh on destined to be here forever. Ascot, Chester, York and Newmarket saw collectively 100k+ attendances and their fixtures are prime slots for racecourse profits, so it’ll take some substantial compensation for any to even contemplate relocating any of their fixtures for the benefit of say, a Mr Bookmaker.


But what about the stay at home viewer, the Racing UK subscriber?


Chester wasn’t a great fixture compared to the others, but as it was being run on a Saturday the prize fund was healthy, and it gave opportunities for a number of middle of the road jockeys to pick up fair rides, riding for very fair prizes. But here we had a dedicated racing channel rushing to leave Ascot, Newmarket or York to cover Chester, and when Chester suffered a delay, played carnage with the running schedule.


Isn’t it time both Racing UK and At The Races looked at a red button option? Saturday’s are becoming saturated on Racing UK, whatever the quality, Sunday the same for At The Races with their summer jumping as well as the Irish racing. A red button option would give more airtime to pundits, that could be a good thing and a bad thing thinking about it, but also offer those who wish to focus on a lesser meeting/race without the possibility of a split screen.


Still, I wouldn’t hold my breath. RUK were due to introduce HD coverage in 2011, any idea what has happened there and where the £7m went?


“This represents a significant £7m investment in the coverage of our racing. The network upgrade will deliver high definition pictures at a faster speed than the current standard definition network,” said Racing UK’s director broadcast David Bellin.


“The new trucks are designed to enhance the coverage of racing on terrestrial, satellite and cable TV, and on-course. We have the foundations in place to maintain Racing UK’s premier position in the sport’s genre.


“HD will greatly enhance the spectacle of a horse race for the armchair viewer, particularly the jockeys’ silks and close-ups of the thoroughbred in action.”


Dan Kelly can be followed on Twitter here

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