When the BHA finally published the 2014 fixture list this week, it contained 1,464 events including 7 at Cartmel. While it may sound pretty mundane to state that we have been allocated an almost-identical list of fixtures to last year, the process has involved a significant amount of time and effort over the last few months as bargains have been struck between BHA, the Levy Board, the Horsemen and racecourses.
under 40% of the fixtures are over jumps, 40% are Flat fixtures on turf, while
the remaining 20% are Flat race meetings taking place on all-weather surfaces.
The most controversial development is the introduction of a new all-weather
fixture worth £1 million at Lingfield Park – because it has been scheduled to
take place on Good Friday, a day which has traditionally been kept clear of racing.
decision to race on Good Friday will be welcomed by the off-course betting
industry, who will benefit significantly from increased turnover. However, I
can’t help feeling that it will be a retrograde step for racing enthusiasts and
some participants of the sport. For me, an enforced day off brings on
withdrawal symptoms and makes me look forward to racing on Easter Saturday with
renewed enthusiasm. As a child, I didn’t think Christmas Day could get any
better, but now that it is the only racing-free day in the calendar, there's a
new reason to look forward to it - the super-accentuated excitement of Boxing
receiving the new fixture list, the first thing that I do is highlight the
important days with a felt-tip pen. Apart from three Cartmel race-days in May (24th , 26th
& 28th), two in July (19th & 21st) and
two in August (23rd & 25th), there is the Cheltenham
Festival (11th – 14th March) and Aintree Grand National
(5th April). This year we are planning to stage lunches in the
Grandstand on several of the major dates, with live action being shown on large
basic structure of the fixture list allows key races to slot into a familiar
and reassuring pattern. For example, a couple of visitors from the West Country
on Monday told me that they were “looking forward to the start of the jumps
season at Chepstow this weekend”. Now… the 2013/14 jumps season started months
ago at Wetherby and Ludlow, and there was jump racing at Chepstow as recently
as ten days ago – so what on earth were they talking about?
for many years the first really valuable race of the jumps season was a limited handicap for
4 year old hurdlers at Chepstow. It attracted the best of the previous season’s juveniles
and it was always interesting to see how they had developed over the Summer.
The race still exists, though slightly less prestigious than it once was. While
Pistol looks well handicapped on his pre-festival form, I am recommending For
Two, who looked a lovely prospect last year.