Punters face getting the beers in earlier than ever thanks to major changes to horse racing fixture list | The Sun
PUNTERS face getting the beers in earlier than ever next year thanks to huge changes to the racing fixture list.
First races are set to be off as early as 10.30am – the earliest ever in the UK – as part of the batch of morning meetings.
That has been done to pave way for the new 'premier' meetings which racing chiefs hope will have a 'transformational' effect on the calendar.
There are set to be six morning fixtures in the 2024 calendar, with the first coming at Lingfield on Saturday, January 20.
The goal is to get that meeting finished before the 'premier' fixtures at Ascot and Haydock later that day have their exclusive 2-4pm window.
If a morning fixture is a seven-race card then it would need to start between 10.30-11am.
These newly-christened 'premier' meetings, which are essentially the traditional major fixtures already in place, will receive a fresh injection of cash after the Levy Board bumped up its prize-money contribution by £3.2million.
It is hoped that increasing the purses around the biggest race days will stem the flow of talented horses going overseas and improve competition.
In addition it is hoped they will drive-up revenue by as much as £90m over the next five years.
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There will also be a trial of six Sunday evening fixtures in the first few months of 2024, while 20 jumps fixtures (and 300 meetings) have been slashed from the calendar in order to improve field sizes.
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Not everyone is happy though, with some tracks losing meetings throughout the season.
BHA chief Julie Harrington said: "This is the first major step in what is a long-term transformational plan.
"The expectation is that the changes should generate more revenue, which will allow us to invest in other key areas.
"We accept and expected that, with significant change, there will always be some who feel that the cards have not fallen their way.
"However, the objective for these changes is that they grow the sport as a whole, with benefits that reach throughout the entire industry in the medium to long-term."
There is better news for owners, trainers and jockeys with minimum prize money values of £20,000 and £15,000 per race on the Flat and jumps respectively at premier meetings.
Saturday and midweek afternoon premier meetings must also have terrestrial television coverage.
And it is hoped the premier racedays will give key races the time to 'breathe', with the schedule often becoming clogged on Saturday afternoons.
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