Cheltenham Showcase vs British Champions Day
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), in conjunction with Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR), British Champions Series and Channel 4, has announced a series of alterations to the Fixture List from 2015 with the result of ensuring that Cheltenham’s Showcase meeting is no longer held on the same day as QIPCO British Champions Day in mid-October.
The Showcase meeting will be moved a week later to 23rd and 24th October in 2015, the weekend after QIPCO British Champions Day, which retains its position on Saturday 17th October.
A series of fixture moves affecting several racecourses were required to accommodate this switch, representing the Racing industry working together for the common good of the sport.
Seven out of nine moves involved Jockey Club Racecourses, including converting the previously two-day Old Roan Chase meeting at Aintree into two separate fixtures. The Old Roan Chase will switch from its former Saturday slot to be run on Sunday 25th October, with the Saturday fixture moving two weeks later to Saturday 7th November.
Channel 4 have also been instrumental in the move, committing extra resources to broadcast more races from three locations on the Saturday of the newly programmed Showcase meeting. The clash with QIPCO British Champions Day had previously meant that the quality card at Cheltenham was not receiving free to air coverage but the revised spot means that the Showcase Saturday from the home of Jump racing will be available to free to air audiences.
Paul Bittar, Chief Executive of BHA, said: “This is a positive development and makes sense for everyone involved. From the point of view of QIPCO British Champions Day and Cheltenham it benefits both not to be competing against one another. We believe it brings benefits for the racegoer, punter and the Racing industry as a whole and is also in the interests of broadcasters, bookmakers and those responsible for promoting the sport.
“As much as it may seem a relatively straightforward switch, implementing alterations to the Fixture List like this is a complex process and requires the cooperation of a number of parties. Our thanks go to everyone involved, especially Jockey Club Racecourses, Fakenham and Stratford racecourses and Channel 4. This is an example of the industry working together to overcome obstacles for the greater good.”
Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “We’re pleased to have played our part in resolving this clash in the best interests of the sport and its followers. Moving fixtures is hugely complex, but we’ll always look for the art of the possible for the good of British racing. It makes sense for Cheltenham’s season-opener and British racing’s premier Flat finale to run apart and credit should go to all parties involved, with Channel 4 being extremely supportive throughout this process.”
Jamie Aitchison, Sports Editor for Channel 4, said: “It’s great news that team work has brought about changes that successfully sees Cheltenham’s Showcase Saturday return to Channel 4. Saturday 24th October will be a strong day of sport.”
Rod Street, Chief Executive of British Champions Series, said: “This is good news for racegoers, TV viewers and betting shop punters. In autumn 2015, they’ll be able to take in the best of British Flat racing at QIPCO British Champions Day and then switch codes the following Saturday to enjoy Cheltenham’s opening weekend of Jumps action.”