New Update


30 July: Prize money levels for British racing are to be increased from 1 September and fixtures for the rest of the year have been published. The appearance money scheme, that had been in place until the suspension of racing in March, will also be re-introduced.

Minimum prize-money values will increase at all levels, with the middle and grassroots tiers of British racing returning to their pre-Covid levels. For Class 1 races and Heritage Handicaps, minimum values will increase to become 75% of their levels from before the suspension.

In addition to extra Horserace Betting Levy Board funding, all racecourses will be making executive contributions towards the prize money of every race programmed.

The appearance money scheme, which had been created in 2018, will be re-introduced from the beginning of September. The scheme is designed to improve the return to owners at the middle and lower tiers, and will involve qualifying races making payments of £300 on the Flat and £350 over Jumps for horses finishing between fifth and eighth place.

In eligible races over steeple chases, a trial will be conducted through the period involving making payments to the remainder of the field, subject to horses meeting minimum rating requirements. This is in response to potential issues raised in the five year-welfare strategy published by the Horse Welfare Board earlier in the year. Full details will be issued as soon as possible.

The fixture list for September to December has also been published, with the programme of fixtures remaining largely consistent with the list published in July 2019, subject to a number of minor adjustments:

  • A maximum of five fixtures will take place on any day to ensure the sport can continue to successfully implement the numerous Covid-related protocols in place, including the health screening of all participants
  • Start times of fixtures will be scheduled to avoid the creation of race clashes wherever possible
  • Fixtures will generally comprise seven programmed races, with one race permitted to divide. To assist the needs of the horse population, up to two races will be permitted to divide at floodlit fixtures through the period.
  • To reduce the risk of spreading infection, all participants will only be permitted to attend one race meeting on any day, which will be facilitated by scheduling a maximum of four Flat fixtures on any single day
  • To provide additional opportunities following the ten-week suspension, a programme of five floodlit fixtures will be added to the six days in November where a break in the Flat fixture list had originally been planned.

The fixture list between Christmas and New Year, including the eight fixtures provisionally scheduled to take place on Boxing Day, will be reviewed nearer the time.

The revised fixture list from September to December includes 460 fixtures, compared with 455 in the original fixture list.

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the BHA, said:

“As we enter the autumn and racehorse owners begin to make their plans for 2021, this increase in minimum prize money levels across all levels from September is a critical part of the sport’s recovery plans.

“Owners have displayed great patience in recent months and it is crucial that prize money grows at all levels as quickly as possible. Whilst there is a long way to go, the increase in minimum values together with the re-introduction of the appearance money scheme are clearly steps in the right direction.

“We have learnt a lot from a number of the fixture innovations that were put in place as part of the emergency fixture list, some of which will continue for the remainder of the year. Others may return in the future but it is evident that the return to a more familiar fixture list, at least for now, will provide a boost to industry revenues, particularly as we look forward to crowds returning to racecourses later in the year.

“This has only been possible due to the Levy Board significantly increasing its support of prize money compared with its original plans and we would like to express our gratitude for their approach as we seek to plot a long term course for our sport to recover from its current challenges.”

♦ Link to fixtures


23 July: Investec, the banking and wealth management company, is ending its sponsorship of the Derby and the Oaks, as well as Epsom’s Derby trial fixture.

The backing of the two classics has lasted since 2011, when Investec took over from Vodaphone,  but there have been recent reports of a rift with Epsom owners Jockey Club Racecourses over this year’s running of the meeting behind closed doors, centering on Investec wanting a rebate on their sponsorship worth £3m a year.

The current contract was due to run until 2028, but last year Investec’s founder, Bernard Kantor, a racing enthusiast, left the company.

A consequence of the meeting being held behind closed doors was that Investec were unable to entertain guests and the view was held that, without a crowd, the value of the sponsorship was devalued.


17 July: A small number of sporting events, including horse racing, will be used to pilot the safe return of spectators through late July and early August. The announcement came form Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Horse racing’s pilot event will take place on 1 August at Goodwood Racecourse, as part of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

The Racecourse Association said “This is potentially an important step forward in the sporting economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the industry is grateful for the support of DCMS in selecting horseracing to be one of the sports to host a pilot event, two months after we returned safely behind closed doors.

“The RCA-led Stage 5 industry working group have also worked tirelessly in recent weeks to enable this pilot event to take place, reflecting the unique characteristics of racecourses as outdoor sporting venues.”

This event will be a pilot to implement new safety protocols developed by DCMS, the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) and Racing to implement new safety protocols to allow elite sporting venues to welcome back spectators. An event for 5,000 people, plus participants, has been designed for the safety of all onsite.

Attendance will initially be offered to Goodwood Racecourse Annual Members and their guests. The day will be carefully planned in conjunction with the local government and other relevant bodies to ensure that the event carries minimal risk to attendees and the local community.

For all racegoers attending the event, a code of conduct must be acknowledged and agreed in advance. This sets out expectations on the behaviour and actions of everyone involved to maintain hygiene levels and social distancing, as well as outlining the facilities and initiatives put in place by the racecourse to enable this. Further information will be published in due course.

Following the pilot event, the Stage 5 industry group will conduct a thorough debrief to understand which measures worked well and which require further refinement.

It will not be possible for all racecourses to immediately follow suit and welcome crowds. This will be subject to a successful debrief, finalising the extensive protocols involved and further permission granted from Government.


16 July: Kenny Alexander, under whose leadership GVC Holdings became one of the world’s biggest sports betting and gaming operators, has made the surprise announcement that he is leaving the Ladbrokes Coral owner.

His departure takes effect tomorrow, ending 13 years as the company’s chief executive. Under his watch GVC grew from a small AIM-listed company into a FTSE 100 business with 25,000 staff and some of betting and gaming’s biggest brands.

The standout event of his tenure was in 2018 when GVC took over Ladbrokes Coral. Other brands in the GVC portfolio include Sportingbet, Eurobet, PartyPoker and Foxy Bingo.

Alexander said: “I have spent the last four months working from home and reflecting on my future plans, and this feels like the right moment.”

Taking on the position as head of GVC is the company’s chief operating officer Shay Segev, who has been with the business since 2016.

Alexander described Segev as an outstanding leader with unrivalled technological expertise: “As a shareholder, I know that our company will be in good hands.”

GVC chairman Barry Gibson said of Alexander: “We will miss him, but we also understand his wishes to hand over the reins after such as long and successful stint at the top of the company.”


4 June 2020: A week’s extension to the Flat turf season and an increase of five in the number of fixtures scheduled at Dundalk in November are among the changes to the fixture list announced by HRI for the remainder of 2020, with a new schedule published for August through to December.

Following the previously announced June and July schedules, which featured nine extra race meetings, a further 39 will be added in the last five months. This will restore 48 of the 87 fixtures that were lost between the end of March and next Monday’s resumption of racing at Naas. The total number of fixtures now scheduled for 2020 will be 331 compared to the original allocation of 370 for the year. There will be an increase to the number of fixtures every month with September seeing an extra 11 meetings compared to the original fixture list, and 10 additional fixtures set for October.

The Flat turf season is extended by a week and will now end at Naas on Saturday 7 November. There are also two extra meetings at the Curragh in the final week of the 2020 Flat turf season, while extra Flat opportunities will be provided in November with the five Dundalk fixtures lost earlier in the year all being added back into that month. There will be three all-weather meetings (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) in each of the three weeks after the end of the Flat turf season, meaning that the overall number of Flat fixtures in November doubles from seven to 14.

Jason Morris, HRI’s Director of Racing, said: “We have worked closely with all racecourses to develop a fixture list for the remainder of 2020 which is appropriate for both the horse population and each individual track, and we are very grateful for the excellent co-operation received from racecourse managers. We have spread the additional opportunities throughout the year and over both codes to reflect the meetings that were lost over the March to June period. By significantly expanding the number of Flat opportunities in November, including an extra week of turf racing, we are elongating the season in recognition of the severely delayed start experienced by owners, trainers and jockeys.

“All fixtures which were due to be staged from the start of July onwards have been retained with no track foregoing any of their meetings although some have changed dates. The meeting at Laytown on September 1 will be kept under review to determine, based on the government guidance that will apply at the time, whether it is possible to implement the necessary protocols at the beach venue.

“Race meetings are all single code to minimise the number of people working at the racecourse with the possible sole exception of the Listowel Festival. Depending upon social distancing requirements and potential crowd limitations in late September, Listowel could host mixed cards on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of their seven-day Festival. If this is not possible, there will be five all-National Hunt days, with Flat racing on the Monday and Thursday.

“HRI has agreed to a request from Punchestown to stage one Flat meeting (on September 3) which will be subject to satisfactory trial gallops being staged over the proposed track layout in advance of the fixture. Punchestown’s other six re-instated fixtures will all remain National Hunt.”

Click here for 202i Irish fixtures



28 May: A Gambling Commission investigation, which arose following a customer’s suicide, into PT Entertainment Services (PTES), whose parent company is Playtech, and who traded as and, uncovered systemic failures in player protection. Both and have ceased trading.

In March 2019 the regulator began an investigation after being contacted by the family of a man who tragically took his own life in April 2017 aged 25. Although PTES surrendered its licence during the investigation the Commission decided that it was in the public interest to complete the investigation and publish its findings.

The Commission’s investigation identified serious systemic failings in the way PTES managed its social responsibility and anti-money laundering processes.  In relation to the young man in question, the Commission concluded that the operator failed to carry out any responsible gambling customer interactions even though it was aware that several of his debit card transactions had been declined.

PTES also provided him with VIP status without verifying that he could afford to spend the amounts of money he was playing with – all of which are serious and unacceptable failings.

The investigation also revealed more general failings in the way PTES interacted with its highest spending customers. If the licence had not been surrendered the Commission would have imposed a £3.5m penalty and considered whether other sanctions were appropriate.

The Commission is continuing to investigate the role played by key individuals at PTES who still hold personal licences and will take any appropriate action following completion of further investigations.

Prior to surrender of its operating licence, PTES made a number of settlement offers which the Commission regarded as seriously deficient. PTES proceeded to donate £619,395, the amount it proposed as a regulatory settlement offer on 30 October 2019, to charity in furtherance of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

Parent company Playtech has also pledged to donate a total of £5m to mental health and gambling-related harm charities over the next five years as part of its strategy to promote better online health.

Neil McArthur, the Commission’s Chief Executive, said: “This is a tragic case which came to light after I was contacted by the family of the young man who very sadly took his own life.  I want to thank them for their bravery in bringing his case to our attention and we are grateful for the way they have worked with us in such terrible circumstances so that we could understand what happened.”

“Although PTES has ceased trading, we decided to complete our investigation and publish our findings, as the lessons from this tragic case must be learned by all operators.’

“This case – like so many others we have seen – illustrates why the management of so-called ‘high value customers’ has to change.  Operators must do everything in their power to interact with customers responsibly. We will shortly be opening a consultation to make permanent changes to the way operators recruit and incentivise high value customers.’’


24 May: The technical guidelines for racing’s participants and staff to follow so that the sport can receive government approval to resume safely behind closed doors have been issued by the British Horseracing Authority. The main requirements of the guidelines are:

  • Racecourse attendance will be kept to a bare minimum, with farriers, medical staff, stalls handlers, stewards and vets all deemed essential, whilst trainers, plus one groom per horse, will be allowed racecourse attendance
  • Two reporters (drawn from the Press Association and the Racing Post) will be allowed, as will two photographers
  • Owners will not be allowed racecourse entry, and there will be no bookmakers
  • There will be screenings for everyone prior to racecourse entry, and anyone with a temperature above 37.8C will be refused access
  • All saddles and jockey’s equipment must be disinfected on arrival, whilst horseboxes must be disinfected before and after each journey
  • Horsebox drivers will either have to stay with their vehicles or use a designated rest area.
  • Anyone likely to be in a situation which breaches social distancing rules will be required to wear a safety mask and, as well as anyone entering the parade ring, this applies to jockeys, stable staff and stalls handlers – the BHA have obtained supplies of safety masks
  • Jockeys’ changing rooms will be reconfigured to meet with social distancing rules, and saunas and showers will not be available
  • Only bottled water will available by way of refreshment

Racing’s resumption is conditional upon the government agreeing that restrictions can be eased further as part of Step Two of its coronavirus recovery strategy, which includes the return of professional sport and other cultural events. The first race meeting is scheduled for 1 June. The guidelines require participants to take action in preparation for attending meetings.

The BHA has worked with racecourses and representatives of trainers, jockeys and staff to adapt a normal race meeting, provide medical screening for all attendees in advance and maintain social distancing.

The guidelines have been developed in consultation with officials from Public Health England and a group of cross-sport Chief Medical Officers, and drawn up under the direction of the BHA’s Chief Medical Advisor, Dr Jerry Hill. They are aligned with the government guidance for the return of elite sports published so far but can be adapted if required by subsequent guidance.

The key principle is to act in line with government policy to protect those working and competing at race-meetings, and to reassure the wider community that the risks of spreading corona virus have been kept to a minimum.

Race meetings without the public are an important stage in a full return to work for the racing industry which, says the BHA, is worth more than £4 billion annually for the economy, much of which is generated in rural areas. Some 20,000 staff are directly employed, with tens of thousands more working in jobs that depend on racing.

British racing remains in direct discussion with the devolved Governments regarding timescales for a potential resumption in Scotland and Wales.

The BHA and Dr Hill have carried out a detailed assessment of the risks from returning over several weeks. The background risks for a horseracing event without the public are considered to be low:

  • It is a non-contact sport in which social distancing can be maintained in most situations
  • It takes place out of doors where the risks of virus transmission are recognised to be lower
  • Most of those attending live in rural areas where the incidence of COVID-19 is generally lower
  • Training of horses has continued: staff and riders have already adapted to social distancing
  • Most attending will do so in private vehicles and are not reliant on public transport

Through its resumption plans, the BHA say British racing will ensure that:

  • It will act in line with government policy to protect those coming back to work and minimise the risk of spreading the virus
  • For those working at an event, including officials, racecourse staff and participants, the implementation of the guidelines ensures that racing will take place in a more controlled environment than most day-to-day activities

This will be achieved through a combination of:

  • Efficient, repeated, targeted medical screening to ensure as much as possible that everyone who is on a racecourse is safe to be on that racecourse
  • Detailed guidance and protocols around managing a race day safely and mitigating the risks of the transmission of corona virus
  • Education to support behaviour changes, alongside sanctions if appropriate and necessary

Racing will liaise with NHS Providers in order to reduce the use of any medical or NHS services to a minimum, acting responsibly by using other healthcare resources – private ambulances, hospitals and medics – to protect the NHS.

The guidelines will be updated and adapted to remain in line with government policy and will be kept under constant review to ensure any learnings from resumption are identified and included.

The BHA’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Brant Dunshea, said

“Racing has been able to develop its guidelines based on our experience of operating bio-secure environments to control the spread of infection in horses, and a robust approach to regulation and enforcing the rules.

“Our trainers, jockeys and staff carry out their roles in a highly disciplined way because working with horses always carries risks. I am very confident they will adapt quickly to this new set of measures designed to protect them from transmission of the virus.”


22 May: The BHA had published a provisional fixture list covering the period 9 June to the end of August. Many fixtures, including Glorious Goodwood and The York Ebor meetings, remain unchanged from the original schedule.

In addition, fixtures in Scotland and Wales have been provisionally scheduled (denoted by TBC in the provisional fixture list, see below) but will only be confirmed following further consultation with the relevant Governments on timescales for potential resumption. The BHA remains in direct discussion with both the Scottish and Welsh Governmen.

The BHA have also been working to develop a full race programme for the remainder of June, which will be published on Monday 25 May. This will include the date, location and conditions of all races scheduled for 9-30 June.

It had been originally hoped to complete and publish the June race programme this week, however with elements of this still to be finalised, doing so would have provided racecourses and participants with an incomplete picture of how the provisional programme will look – and one that would in all likelihood need to be amended subsequent to publication.

However, the BHA can confirm that the race programme will include additional 2yo races for the first eight days following resumption. In addition, they will start prioritising three-year-old novice and maiden races towards the middle of the second week (w/c 9 June).


22 May: Further to the earlier announcement of the Royal Ascot 2020 scheduled, which will include extra races and with every race having a maximum number of 24 runners, the BHA has stated that elimination from Royal Ascot races for two-year-olds will be based purely on previous finishing positions, with priority given in the following order:

  1. Horses that have won an Open Novice or Maiden race
  2. Horses that have won a Restricted Novice or Maiden race
  3. Horses that have finished second in an Open Novice or Maiden race
  4. Horses that have finished second in a Restricted Novice or Maiden race
  5. Horses that have finished third in an Open Novice or Maiden race
  6. Horses that have finished third in a Restricted Novice or Maiden race
  7. Horses that have finished fourth in an Open Novice or Maiden race
  8. Horses that have finished fourth in a Restricted Novice or Maiden race
  9. Unraced horses
  10. Horses that have run but have not been placed in the first four

Other important points to help with planning have been issued, some of which have already been included in earlier BHA updates, and other that have been finalised over the past few days.

  • 72-hour declarations

These will be in place for all races from 1 June until further notice. This will ensure all participants are able to complete the necessary preparatory steps between declaration and attendance at the racecourse, including the compulsory pre-entry health screening (details of which will be communicated to the industry in the coming days). The BHA appreciates that the use of 72-hour declarations will create additional challenges for trainers and will revert to 48-hour declarations once it is clear this is viable.

  • Field sizes – the following will apply:

All non-Pattern and Listed races will be limited to 12 runners per race. This reflects risk modelling that indicates that field sizes of 12 or fewer in non-Pattern and Listed races reduces the risk to participants on the track. Even though more races have been programmed at each fixture than would normally be the case, it is recognised that this will increase competition for places. This will be reviewed at the end of the first week of racing.

Pattern and Listed races will not be limited to 12 runners. These races will be subject to the existing maximum field size limits, or any other limit imposed by the racecourse at which the races are to be held. Again, this decision is based on risk modelling, which indicates that Pattern and Listed races are less likely to involve an incident.

  • Handicapping – with the start of the season being delayed, the BHA will help more horses become eligible for a handicap rating after two runs.

A horse will be eligible for a handicap rating if it (i) finishes in the first six places on both of its first two starts, or (ii) has completed two starts having won first time out. It is also confirmed that the handicap rating for any horse that has, as a result of either of these changes, become eligible to be rated, will be published within the ‘Official Ratings’ section of the BHA website.

In addition, the current rules state that in order to run in a handicap with a Total Race Value of £45,000 or more, a horse must have run at least three times. Given the lack of opportunity for a 3yo to have a third run this year before some such handicaps take place, this rule will not be enforced until 1 July. This means that relaxation of the qualification rules outlined above will now also apply to high value handicaps until the end of June.

  • British-based horses

There will be no regional restrictions in place for British-based horses on resumption. However, the revised fixture list provides a good geographical spread of fixtures to maximise opportunities for horses across the country.

  • International runners

There will only be permitted to run initially in the three Group 1 races taking place in Britain during the first fortnight (Coronation Cup, 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas). Under current planning, international runners will be able to participate in all Pattern and Listed races taking place in Britain from 15 June 2020 onwards. The BHA is also assessing the implications of this evening’s announcement from the UK Government on quarantine measures for international travellers to the UK from 8 June. Further guidance will be issued in due course.

  • Overnight accommodation at racecourses

Overnight accommodation will not be available at ANY racecourse for staff or horses from 1 June and until further notice.

  • Jump racing

The provisional fixture list includes Jump racing from 1 July. As confirmed previously, the BHA will amend Jump novice status so that winners since the beginning of February will retain their novice status until 30 November.


21 May: Horse Racing Ireland has released the full Flat programme for the month of June and the fixture list for July, including details of the Galway festival which will be run on its original dates.

Irish racing returns behind closed doors with strict new HRI protocols in place at Naas on 8 June. The revised fixture list for July features 47 meetings, three more than in the original schedule. In recognition of the increased workload, there will now be three days (up from two) on which no racing takes place during the month.

Jason Morris, HRI’s Director of Racing, said: “We recognise that there will be a large demand for opportunities to run and our aim is to provide all Flat horses with their first run as quickly as possible following the resumption of racing by offering a balanced programme across all age groups, distances and categories. There will be 53 Flat meetings up to the end of July with this objective in mind.

“There will also be 22 National Hunt fixtures programmed between 22 June and the end of July, compared to the equivalent of 17 meetings in the same period last year, to cater for the demands of the jumps horse population.

“There will be eight-race cards run at every opportunity where stable capacity allows, with the protocols requiring one stable per horse for hygiene reasons.”

The Galway festival is being maintained as a seven-day event but there are significant changes to the traditional race programme. The opening two days will host Flat races only while the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday fixtures will be all National Hunt. The meeting will conclude, in the first two days of August, with two all-Flat cards. The Galway Plate and Galway Hurdle will be run on the Wednesday and Thursday as normal.

The number of racedays at Killarney in July has been reduced from five to three which will be stand-alone fixtures on Tuesday 7 July , Monday 13 July and Wednesday 15 July. The two lost days will be rescheduled later in the year.

Racing will resume at Cork Racecourse which will host four fixtures, beginning with an all-Flat card on Sunday 5 July. Bellewstown will stage three non-consecutive days in July, while two extra fixtures will be held at the Curragh on Friday 10 July and Sunday 26 July, the latter featuring the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

All race meetings will be a single code with no mixed meetings to minimise the number of people working at the racecourse on each day. Many cards have been programmed with the possibility of a divide included to respond as effectively as possible to the demands of the horse population.

Afternoon and evening designations have been provided for fixtures but may be subject to change in a small number of cases.

Click to see the fixtures




20 May: New initiatives in the television coverage on Irish racecourses are planned after Horse Racing Ireland announced that IRIS, a family run business based in Bartlemy, County Cork, has been awarded the contract for the provision of televised services to Irish horse racing.

The use of raceday tracking cameras and drone cameras, which aim to enhance the viewing experience, are part of an initial four-year deal, running until May 2024, with an option to extend on an annual basis up to a maximum of 10 years.

The contract covers a number of roles on each of Ireland’s 26 racecourses, including supplying raceday integrity services to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, racecourse CCTV and providing race coverage to Sports Information Services (SIS) and Racing TV as well as working alongside terrestrial broadcasters.

Bart Arnold, Managing Director of IRIS, said:

“We are delighted to have the opportunity of continuing to support Horse Racing Ireland and the Association of Irish Racecourses in the provision of televised services to Irish horse racing. There are several new technologies being introduced which will create innovative ways of viewing, entertaining and informing racing fans around the world. The new arrangements will see the introduction of best in class facilities for the raceday Stewards, enhancing the integrity of Irish Horseracing into the future. A superb team of people are in the background, delivering a quality service with professionalism, commitment and enthusiasm.”


20 May: Horse Racing Ireland has published a revised list of Group races, Listed races and Premier Handicaps for the Covid 19 impacted 2020 Flat racing season which includes an important change to the conditions of the Tattersalls Gold Cup. These are the most significant races which are pivotal to the breeding industry and sales catalogues.

The Tattersalls Gold Cup will now be run at the end of July and will offer a new Group 1 opportunity for horses aged three-years-old and up over 10 furlongs, filling a significant gap in the revised Pattern.

The publication confirms that the full complement of Group races will be run through the year given their importance to the Irish breeding industry.

Racing resumes in Ireland behind closed doors on 8 June having missed 87 fixtures since 24 March, and Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “The revised list of Pattern races published today will see the many of them run on their original dates and under their typical conditions, though inevitably some have had date, race conditions and even venue changes to allow them fit into the new schedule.

“Apart from the three Group 1 races normally run on Guineas weekend, all other Group 1 races in Ireland will be run on their originally scheduled dates and venues.

“The two-year-old Group race programme will start about six weeks later than normal, in early July, but again the full complement of opportunities will be run between then and season end.

“2020 will be anything but a normal year, but in the circumstances, we have tried to preserve the opportunities which the Irish race programme offers to the better horse.”

The 2020 revised programme of pattern, listed and premier nurseries and handicaps can be found here