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Racing fixture list 2023: BHA to increase minimum race values while placing limit on Saturday fixtures

BHA to increase minimum race values by up to £50,000 for Group and Grade One contests in 2023; Saturday afternoon limit of five fixtures to be introduced; jockey Neil Callan calls decision to keep number of fixtures the same "laughable"

Ikhtiraaq (blue and white) wins at Leicester in the colours of former owners Shadwell
Image: The 2023 fixture list includes a similar number of meetings to the current campaign despite calls for a significant reduction

The 2023 racing calendar will see an increase in minimum race values and a limit on the number of Saturday fixtures, while the overall number of meetings will remain at a similar level, despite many critics feeling there is too much racing in the current format.

Announcing next year's fixture list on Wednesday, the British Horseracing Authority confirmed that prize money for Group One races on the Flat will be raised by £50,000, while top-level contests over fences will receive the same increase, with a £25,000 raise in Grade Ones over hurdles.

Grade One novice chases and novice hurdle races will have minimum values raised by £35,000 and £20,000 respectively.

The key points of difference for the 2023 fixture list
Image: The key points of difference for the 2023 fixture list

Increases at all levels have been announced, with a more moderate £700 rise being implemented across the board at races at class four level and below under both codes.

However, the current appearance money scheme has been scrapped, with minimum levels for the races affected also upped by £700.

Richard Wayman, chief operating officer of the British Horseracing Authority, said: "At a time when the sport is facing a number of challenges, it is particularly important that industry agreement has been reached on raising minimum prize money values.

"Owners have always been incredibly loyal in their support of British racing, but we are experiencing a significant growth in the number of higher-rated horses being sold overseas and, over jumps, an increasing number of the best horses being based elsewhere.

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"Total prize money will reach record levels this year but, as we enter the yearling sales season, when many owners are making their plans for next year, it is vital that we have been able to announce further steps forward in the guise of increased minimum values for 2023."

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Trainer Fergal O'Brien is among those to have called on racing's authorities to reduce the number of fixtures, particularly during the summer campaign.

There has been much discussion around the size of the fixture list in recent weeks, with a BHA proposal to remove 300 races from the calendar turned down earlier this year. A total of 1,478 meetings are currently planned, with Wayman emphasising ongoing work to review the situation.

He added: "Although the 2023 fixture list includes a number of initiatives, it is similar in size and shape to previous years.

"With work on the Industry Strategy under way, a key area of focus is to ensure that future fixture lists can help grow the appeal of racing to our customers, both existing and new.

"This will involve delivering a consistently attractive and competitive sport to racegoers, bettors and general racing fans, whilst, of course, taking account of the impact on those who service the fixture list and make it all happen.

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Speaking before the release of the 2023 fixture list, leading owner Jon Hughes urged the BHA to get 'stuck in' with a serious shake-up of the current format.

"All of that will require change and the strategic work provides the ideal platform to set our future direction."

Leading jockey Neil Callan was among those to criticise the BHA's latest move, writing on Twitter: "Increase in prize money is the main focus, which is still abysmal, but hiding and not mentioning the fact the actual fixtures are way too high again is just laughable."

The potential Racing League fixtures for 2023 will be considered at the end of this year's competition in mid-September, so those fixtures do not feature on the list at present.

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Racing League live on Sky Sports Racing

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Notable changes to the calendar include the St Leger Festival at Doncaster switching to start on a Thursday and finish on a Sunday, while the Christmas break will be just two days, with four fixtures staged on December 23.

There will be a maximum of five fixtures on any Saturday afternoon and there are four 'code breaks' - two each on the Flat and over jumps - to allow participants time off.

The St Leger Festival live on Sky Sports Racing
The St Leger Festival live on Sky Sports Racing

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