BHA Update on Sunday Evening Meetings Pilot

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has recently reviewed the Sunday evening racing pilot which initially aimed to introduce a novel opportunity for wagering during a previously untapped time slot. This initiative formed part of the broader 2024 Fixture List innovations, targeting an enhancement in betting activity, particularly geared towards an online audience.

Commencing on 7 January and concluding on 10 March, the trial consisted of six events featuring races classified as Class 3 and below. The collective prize money across these fixtures surpassed £145,000, supplemented by additional remuneration for jockeys, grooms, and other participants involved.

Upon evaluation, the pilot was assessed on factors such as betting turnover in comparison to midweek fixtures, the quality and competitiveness of the racing product, and feedback from those involved in delivering the events. Notably, the pilot successfully provided competitive racing, with an average of 10.6 horses per race from a total of 498 runners across 47 races.

However, in terms of betting turnover, the pilot did not achieve its objective of surpassing midweek floodlit fixtures by 15 to 20%. Despite an elevated average digital turnover by 3.6%, inconsistency in performance led to an overall decrease of 3% when compared to similar fixtures.

Feedback from racing’s workforce emphasised the intensity of the current fixture list and raised concerns regarding work-life balance, particularly focusing on the implications of hosting additional racing events. In spite of the allure of higher prize money and extra payments, questions surfaced regarding the long-term financial viability of these incentives.

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Subsequently, the BHA board, in light of the feedback and informed by the recommendations from the Commercial Committee as well as the Horseracing Industry People Board, elected not to proceed with scheduling new Sunday evening fixtures momentarily. Future decisions on additional pilots hinge on addressing existing staffing and structural challenges within the industry, with input from the Horseracing Industry People Board integral to this process.

Further, the BHA will continue to monitor potential opportunities for Sunday evening racing, especially during the summer when Premier Racedays extend until 7pm. This will inform any future pilot planning.

BHA Chair Joe Saumarez Smith acknowledged the pilot’s insights, whereas the BHA’s Director of Racing & Betting, Richard Wayman, affirmed the trial’s significance amidst financial adversities. The quest for innovation in the racing product continues as a cornerstone of the industry’s broader strategies, highlighting a willingness to embrace change, acknowledging that not all initiatives may meet their targets.

The summary encapsulates the essence of the Sunday evening racing endeavour. It serves as a testament to the industry’s commitment to innovation and adaptation, as it confronts financial challenges and evolves to meet changing customer behaviours and preferences.

Latest Updates on BHA’s Sunday Evening Race Trials

  • The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has reviewed the experimental Sunday evening fixtures.
  • Initially, these events offered Class 3 races or lower with prize money of at least £145,000.
  • A decision was taken by the BHA Board on 14 May to not continue with the Sunday evening fixtures presently.

French Participants at the Next Cheltenham Gathering

  • Details on French horses set to compete at Cheltenham are pending announcement.

Recent Developments in Equine Racing

  • The BHA introduced Premier Racing at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and piloted Sunday evening races in 2024.
  • Discussions continue regarding fixture scheduling and format innovations.

‘Il Est Francais’ and the Cheltenham Event

  • Confirmation status of ‘Il Est Francais’ partaking in the Cheltenham race has yet to be released.

Sources for Authoritative Horse Racing Coverage

  • Alternative to Racing Post includes publications such as the British Horseracing Authority’s official website and industry magazines.
  • Real-time updates and analysis are often provided by online sports news platforms.

Regulatory Body for British Horse Racing

  • The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) upholds the regulations for horse racing within the UK.
  • They ensure the integrity, continuity, and prosperity of the sport.

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