Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), together with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), has confirmed that following a successful trial in February, non-standard race times will be introduced on a permanent basis from October 1, 2020.
The decision aims to provide more flexibility through periods of congestion and avoid clashes and delayed races. Non-standard horse racing times also minimise the need for on-the-day changes, giving more clarity for broadcasters and racing's customers.
Non-standard race times will be used when there are four or more fixtures across Britain and Ireland in one session or in the period of racing between afternoon and evening racing.
Race times for races covered by ITV will remain standardised whenever possible.
In a statement issued by Horse Racing Ireland, Richard Wayman – Chief Operating Officer of the BHA – said: "The trial of non-standard times in February resulted in a reduced number of race clashes and delays on busy afternoons, which was well received by those watching, broadcasting and betting on the sport.
"This also had a positive impact on racing’s finances and following further collaboration with our colleagues in Ireland and discussions with the betting industry, we believe bringing in non-standard times on a permanent basis would continue to deliver considerable benefits to our customers.
"We appreciate the efforts of all those involved in attempting to ensure that races go off on time and there will, of course, still be occasions when unavoidable clashes and delays occur. However, this decision will help to minimise the frequency of such occurrences and ultimately allow us to schedule races in the best possible way for followers of the sport."
Jason Morris, Director of Racing at HRI, added: "HRI works closely, through SIS, with the BHA and Racing TV to optimise race times between the two countries. The use of non-standard race times, when trialled earlier in the year, proved effective in terms of reducing race clashes and enhancing broadcast coverage, improving the viewing experience for our customers.
"We have therefore agreed to their continuing utilisation from the start of October. As with the trial period, at the request of Irish racecourses, the first race in Ireland will retain a standard time to aid their promotional efforts."
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