Racing League: Fixtures approved for new £1.8m team competition

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
Racing League
The Racing League will feature 36 races across six Thursday evenings in the summer of 2021

Courses and dates have been approved for a new televised summer team racing competition which will guarantee £1.8m in prize money.

Former Swindon Town chairman Jeremy Wray said his Racing League idea with six flat race meetings on Thursday nights has endured two "false starts".

But the British Horseracing Authority has approved the fixtures for 2021, starting with Newcastle in July.

"It's a rare good news story against a bleak background," Wray told the BBC.

Racehorse owners have been calling for increased prize money and he said each race would be worth £50,000, regardless of whether spectators are allowed to attend.

Racing League fixture list

  • 29 July - Newcastle
  • 5 August - Doncaster
  • 12 August - Lingfield
  • 19 August - Windsor
  • 26 August - Lingfield
  • 2 September - Newcastle

How will it work?

Racing in bespoke team colours, there will be 12 teams - each consisting of two to four trainers working together, three jockeys, stable staff and a squad of 30 horses

They will compete across 36 12-runner handicap races, with horses rated 0-90 and run over distances between five and 12 furlongs.

All six meetings will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.

It aims to trial new rules where a jockey carries a whip but only uses it for safety and correction purposes, and not for encouragement as is commonplace in most races.

'Innovation always meets scepticism'

The competition, where points are awarded according to finishing positions in races, had originally been scheduled to start in 2019 but has twice been postponed.

Critics have questioned whether the project will get off the ground, but Wray said it can help attract a new audience to the sport.

"Unless racing as a whole is suspended, this can't not go ahead now," said Wray, a lifelong racing fan who has had shares in about 40 horses.

"Hopefully we can attract some sponsors not already involved in the sport. Innovation always meets scepticism - I find that a little bit extraordinary.

"This is a small beacon of light for a sport that is looking for funding from new sources."

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