Appearance money scheme among BHA's possible innovations
An appearance money scheme offering a cash sum down to eighth place is one of the innovations being considered by racing to make the sport more competitive.
BHA chief operating officer Richard Wayman told the audience at the industry roadshow at York that the governing body had been working with the Horsemen's Group and Racecourse Association to make the most of the opportunity given by levy replacement and the Racing Authority, which will next year officially take over decisions on how those funds are spent.
Wayman said there were three objectives being considered: increasing customer engagement, growing the number of owners, and staging more competitive and compelling racing.
He explained that last year 36 per cent of the programme failed to attract eight runners.
"Although that was an improvement on the previous three years, the simple fact is there are still too many races falling short of where a lot of our customers want them to be," Wayman said.
"Although the details are still being worked on our aim is to create a substantial appearance money scheme to boost the number of races attracting at least eight runners.
"With payments down to eighth place we believe this can influence where horses run, can provide a further boost for grassroots racing, and also make for a more competitive sport which will appeal to both existing and new audiences."
Wayman believes the fixture list can have an influence on engaging more people.
He added: "The reality is that for many years our fixture list has been structured to maximise the levy paid by betting shops.
"Under the Racing Authority we will introduce new fixture criteria that not only takes account of betting shops but also thinks about digital betting, media rights income and the revenues from people attending race meetings.
"The fixture list must evolve as we take into account all of the requirements of all of our various customers."
Wayman said the issue of ownership would be addressed by looking to the sport's grassroots.
"If we are going to start growing ownership as well as attracting new people we have to stop losing owners at the sport's grassroots who have been finding other ways to spend their time and money," Wayman said.
"As funding increases we will aim to increase prize-money within grassroots racing."