Race times in Britain and Ireland will have a slightly unusual look to them this weekend as the BHA and Horse Racing Ireland begin a trial which they hope will ease congestion and split-screen races on busy days – especially Saturdays.
Traditional five-minute mark race times could soon be a thing of the past if this trial, which will see a number of races go off at 'non-standard' irregular times, improves cohesion between meetings.
On Saturday, Musselburgh’s curtain raiser is scheduled to go off at 12.57pm, with races later on the card at 1.31pm, 3.52pm and 4.26pm, while Wetherby’s seven-race card kicks off at 1.03pm and ends at 4.33pm.
The trial will be rolled out across 11 race days in February – five Saturdays and six weekdays, although races broadcast on terrestrial TV in Britain and Ireland will continue to go off at traditional times.
A BHA spokesman said: “The purpose of the trial is to explore the potential benefits for the sport’s customer – in particular the betting public – of adopting non-standard race times on those afternoons when the volume of racing in Britain and Ireland is relatively high.
“The primary benefits may include fewer clashes and delayed races, which are a cause of frustration for punters and media alike, and a more even distribution of races.
“We’ll be looking at all the data around the trial, as well as taking in feedback from participants, racecourses and the betting public, all parties before deciding on whether to make the trial permanent.”
HRI director of racing, Jason Morris, added: “All stakeholders in Ireland have been consulted, including HRI’s betting committee and programmes committee.
“They have agreed to a trial of non-standard race times in February. We are grateful to the Association of Irish Racecourses for their support.
“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.”