Backers of F1-style team racing competition forced to delay launch until 2020
Championship Horse Racing has been forced to postpone plans to launch an ambitious team racing competition this summer, which it had hoped would revolutionise the way people watch and interact with the sport.
Proposals for a sequence of lucrative races run on Thursday evenings through July and August, to be called The Series, were unveiled early last year and eight racecourses – Ayr, Epsom, Goodwood, Haydock, Leopardstown, Newbury, Newmarket and Sandown – were signed up by the end of 2018 to host the action.
The competition, modelled around Formula One motor racing, was to comprise 12 sponsored teams of 30 horses each managed by a leading trainer and ridden by a pool of four jockeys. They would compete during the summer in front of a live television audience with each of the 48 races worth at least £100,000. Teams would be awarded points based on their finishing position.
However, with the proposed dates for The Series fast approaching, CHR was forced to admit on Wednesday that the project will not get off the ground until 2020 at the earliest.
A spokesman said: “We can confirm we have delayed the launch of Championship Horse Racing until next year.
“We are currently getting the teams in place for 2020 and over the summer we will make a more detailed announcement about our exciting future plans.”
Championship Horse Racing: the proposed format
The Series will comprise 12 teams each having a squad of 30 horses which may be in the care of a single trainer or multiple trainers
They will compete in eight fixtures of six races staged on Thursday evenings during consecutive weeks
Each of the 48 races will have 12 runners, one from each team
Points will be awarded in a similar format to F1 with 25 points to the winner down to one point for tenth place
The radical project, which was the brainchild of Jeremy Wray, former chairman of Swindon Town FC and brother of Betfair co-founder Ed Wray, and which counts former trainer Charlie Brooks among its team, had been met with intrigue and scepticism in equal measure.
While the injection of significant funding into racing was welcomed by professionals, leading owners Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and John Dance questioned the need and reasoning behind the concept, with Sheikh Fahad calling The Series “a ridiculous idea”.
The Racing Post understands CHR is continuing to work with interested parties in bringing its concept to life, but as yet no sponsors, dates or participants have been revealed.
The idea of team racing is one that continues to interest racing professionals and Rupert Arnold, chief executive of the National Trainers Federation, is hoping to resume talks with CHR in the future.
He said: “Anything to get more participation and funding into racing is something we’re all interested in, but there has been some scepticism about it.
"There’s definitely been a huge amount of effort put into it and we look forward to hearing if there has been any positive development.”
The BHA has yet to receive any formal approach from CHR but has been in discussions with the group over its future plans.
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