Racing UK

Minor reduction in 2012 fixtures


The number of racing fixtures for next year is just 24 fewer than in 2011, it has been revealed after the much-delayed programme was finally published.

The list is usually finalised much sooner but was delayed, like last year, because of uncertain funding. With that resolved, the British Horseracing Authority have set the total number of fixtures at 1,456 in 2012, down from 1,480 this year. There are 876 Flat (made up of 583 turf and 293 all-weather) and 580 jumps fixtures.

The Levy Board has committed to an expenditure budget of £65.1m for 2012, £5m higher than that of 2011. Of that extra money, £4.2m will be allocated towards prize money, mainly to support higher quality racing.

Significant fixture moves include changes to the Spring Bank Holiday in 2012. This will take place in the first week of June, rather than a week earlier, to be part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. That means that the Investec Derby meeting at Epsom will take place on the Bank Holiday weekend (Friday June 1 and Saturday June 2).

There will be a four-week gap from the Cheltenham Festival (March 13-16) to the John Smith's Grand National meeting at Aintree (April 12-14). On the Saturday following the Cheltenham Festival (March 17), Kempton will stage a new jumps fixture with other National Hunt cards being held at Uttoxeter, Newcastle and Ffos Las.

The Flat season will start at Doncaster on Saturday, March 31, with no Flat turf fixtures being staged before then. Ascot's meeting including the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes will take place one week earlier to avoid clashing with the Olympics and can therefore be shown on BBC.

This has been achieved by Ascot swapping a number of fixture dates with Newbury and, as a result, Newbury's Weatherbys Super Sprint meeting will replace Ascot's Betfred Summer Mile card on the same afternoon as the Darley July Cup at Newmarket and the John Smith's Cup at York.

Newton Abbot and Worcester have agreed to move fixtures out of early August to create a 10-day summer jumping break from August 6-15. There will also be 10 days without a jumps meeting in September. Among other dates of interest is the second Qipco British Champions Day which has been booked for October 20.

Ruth Quinn, BHA's director of racing, said: "Whilst the BHA remains concerned about the declining horse population, a rise in the number of races with small fields and recent downgrades to the race programme, the 2012 fixture list is a pragmatic outcome to a long and difficult process during which the views of the sport's stakeholders have been taken into account.

"The delay in producing the fixture list will have undoubtedly inconvenienced many of the sport's loyal followers, and all of the parties involved in producing the fixture list are committed to doing everything they can to ensure that it is not repeated in the future."

17 November 2011

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