Good Friday racing takes next step
Last Updated: 05/09/13 1:15pm
Bittar: Good Friday 'a significant leisure day'
The British Horseracing Authority agreed on Wednesday to take applications from racecourses for the opportunity to stage fixtures on Good Friday next year.
Good Friday is one of the very few racing-free days in the calendar and the jockeys stage their annual awards, The Lesters, the night before, while training centres in Lambourn and Middleham have traditionally hosted charity open days.
However, commercial pressures and the fact the majority of people have the day off and would be able to attend fixtures are pertinent factors.
A BHA statement read: "No final decision will be taken until the next BHA board meeting at the end of September, but applications will be invited from racecourses and assessed against a number of key criteria.
"This will include prize-money commitment on the day, forecast attendances, support for participants and stakeholders, and overall net contribution to the sport.
"Should the fixtures become part of the 2014 fixture list they will not be additional fixtures.
"Further discussions with stakeholders, the betting industry and parties potentially affected by racing being staged on Good Friday will take place in the coming weeks.
"These factors will be considered as part of an assessment of the benefits to the sport and industry as a whole of any such fixtures taking place."
Chief executive Paul Bittar says the BHA is wary of the "historical sensitivities" associated with proposed racing on Good Friday, but is adamant any decision will be taken for the good of the sport.
He said: "If there are to be fixtures on Good Friday, the executive were clear to the board that the fixtures must remain fully in the control of BHA, and meet a number of minimum criteria to benefit both participants and the sport's customers.
"We are mindful of the historical sensitivities around this subject, but will seek to establish the net benefit to the sport of racing taking place on Good Friday, and move the debate to one based on the facts that are available.
"Good Friday is a significant leisure day, so we are keen to fully assess the opportunity for racing."