Finding For Pressure with Dan Kelly
In one of his final acts as Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, Paul Bittar has produced a minor miracle in the form of the 2015 Fixture List.
Given the recent trend, and demand from racecourse groups and the media for fixtures, as well as a new racecourse on the scene, an increase of only 7 fixtures is quite the result for the BHA. It is a result that their hard work deserves.
On publication of the 2014 Fixture List, Bittar stated that 2015’s version would “include more significant work on the long-term strategy for the Fixture List as well as the overall viability of the Fixture List in continuing challenging economic circumstances.” When reviewing the Consultation Document that was made available in June of this year, the effort that had gone into the process was evident.
The subjects of the consultation were specifically:
- Proposals to address the issue of small field sizes;
- The size and structure of the 2015 Fixture List;
- The entry into the fixture process of two new All Weather racecourses and the resulting increase in demand from racecourses for All Weather fixtures;
- The process for allocation of BHA Fixtures; and
- The future treatment of Enterprise Fixtures;
The 2015 Fixture List has seemingly focused on point one this year, addressing the issue of small field sizes.
The BHA had initially mooted the idea of 345 races to be culled from the programme. With an average of 7.1 races per fixture, that’s effectively a cull of 48 fixtures. Obviously that didn’t go down well with the racecourses.
In July Jockey Club made public their submissions with regard to the consultation process:
Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, said : “British racing may not get a better opportunity to improve its long-term health through self-help, not self-interest. Our submission to the BHA fixtures consultation proposes we take a responsible approach as a sport to addressing field sizes and promoting competitive racing. It would mean some changes and some financial pain in the short-term, but our proposals seek to protect the Horsemen’s prize money dividend and gross wins for the betting industry while growing the sport.”
The Jockey Club proposed 48 races to be removed from the programme, the BHA ended up with 170. After publication of the 2015 Fixture List, Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses opened his response with;
“To start 2015 £1 million behind 2014 is disappointing for everyone at Jockey Club Racecourses who have been doing a great job putting on competitive racing for horsemen and racegoers, and generating increased profits each year to reinvest into our sport. This is money we would have put back into British racing next year.
The Jockey Club are suddenly not in favour of short-term financial pain.
In recent days the BHA have outlined the process for removing these 170 races, and looking at the conditions, they are perfectly reasonable. Focussing on pinpoints of the All Weather programme and Chase programme, excluding £75k fixtures will mean that we will still be able to enjoy a 3 runner Scilly Isles Novices’ this season, so rest easy pattern lovers.
This removal of 170 races is equivalent to 24 fixtures being removed from the calendar. As per the Consultation Document, the BHA calculated removal of 42 fixtures financially is similar to that of 300 races:
BHA itself admitted that “while removing fixtures has a marginally lower forgone contribution compared to removing races there is less flexibility with taking out fixtures, and removing races has greater potential to spread any financial impact across more racecourses.”
But those who look at the headline figures solely will not see that the BHA is looking to correct the below worrying trends:
Paul Bittar has worked some magic this year:
2014 Fixtures – 1464
2015 Fixtures – 1471* **
*Cap on 7 races per fixture from average 7.1 = 10,394 v 10,297 (Equivalent to 14 Fixtures)
**Removal of 170 races from the programme in 2015 (Equivalent to 24 Fixtures)
Paul, well done in getting the equivalent of 38 fixtures removed from the calendar whilst also introducing a new race course that was already allocated 12.
That is some going!
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