A blueprint for racing in the 21st century was unveiled in London this week by the British Horseracing Board (BHB), the sport’s governing body.
Among the most significant of the 76 recommendations which will transform the industry is the proposal to extend the fixture list by an extra 303 meetings a year.
The BHB also proposes the creation of three football-style divisions of racing, with premier, national and regional racing. Regional racing would be aimed at the most modest of horses, offering win prize-money as low at £1,500.
The proposals would see the traditional landscape of British racing change and many of the smaller racecourses could find themselves under threat.
But, on the plus side, there would be more races for owners to win and more betting opportunities for punters, resulting in an increased turnover and more cash for the sport.
Peter Savill, chairman of the British Horseracing Board, has been working closely with the big bookmakers who could be granted their wish to increase the betting industry’s take from horseracing at a time when punters have been turning their backs on horseracing in favour of other sports.
The BHB’s announcement comes in the wake of the recent Office of Fair Trading’s report suggesting that the BHB is in breach of competition law.
If the OFT is not persuaded that the BHB has a central role to play in determining the future structure of the sport then Savill’s efforts will have been wasted.