In conjunction with Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), a four-week trial of non-standard race times will be undertaken by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in February 2020.
Non-standard race times are races not scheduled on the5-minute standard marks (e.g. 3:08pm). The experiment aims to investigate the potential benefits of introducing non-standard race times for the sport and its fans on those afternoons when the frequency of racing is relatively high in Britain and Ireland.
Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer for the BHA, said: “Working closely with our colleagues in Ireland and other partners across the sport, we are always looking for ways to improve our scheduling of races to benefit racing’s customers. The impacts, both positive and negative, of non-standard race times will only be known once the initiative is trialled.
“The hope is that they allow for a more even spread of races without requiring longer intervals between races, and potentially fewer clashes or delays. However, we’ll be taking in feedback from all parties before deciding on whether to make the trial permanent.”
The trial, which was initiated after an internal review of the BHA’s approach to race times, was sponsored by the Betting Liaison Committee of the Levy Board, racecourses, media rights firms (RMG, SIS and TRP), as well as broadcasters.
Non-standard race times would only be trialled on days when in Britain or Ireland there are four or more meetings being held concurrently. In February there are 11 days when non-standard race times, consisting of five Saturdays and six weekdays, will be in operation.
All technology transmitted in Britain or Ireland on terrestrial television must continue to use regular race times, except for any third ITV Racing meetings on a Saturday that would have non-standard race times for non-televised events.
Jason Morris, Horse Racing Ireland Director of Racing said: “All stakeholders in Ireland have been consulted, including HRI’s betting committee and programmes committee, and have agreed to a trial of non-standard race times in February.
“We are grateful to the Association of Irish Racecourses for their support and have accepted their request that the opening race time for all Irish meetings should continue to be scheduled as a standard time for promotional purposes.
“Irish race times are co-ordinated through SIS and involve close co-operation with Racing TV and we will collectively review the effectiveness of the trial working alongside our colleagues in the BHA.”
The BHA and HRI have identified a number of potential benefits of non-standard race times, which may include:
- Improving the scheduling of race times through periods of congestion so that there would be fewer clashes and delayed races;
- Reducing the number of 35-minute intervals and introduce a more even distribution of time between races;
- Reducing on-the-day hold requests, thus enabling BHA and HRI officials to frame raceday timetables from an earlier stage.
- Broadcasters would be able to draw up their running orders to the published off-times rather than having to request delays.
- The risk of avoidable near-clashes – whereby one race is only held until seconds after the preceding race has concluded – should reduce as racecourses would be expected to adhere to the published off-time.
- Off-course punters and the viewing public would be fully appraised of the scheduled off-time.