The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) confirmed the dates and venues of its new, flat horse racing initiative, the Racing League.
The summer racing team competition, which was set to launch in the summer of 2020, but had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, will kick-off at Newcastle Racecourse on Thursday 29th July 2021, and will guarantee £1.8m in prize money to support trainers and jockeys, many of which have been impacted by the coronavirus lockdown.
Organisers say the new team-based league format will bring a ‘dynamic new energy, increased levels of innovation, interactive fan engagement and accessibility to British horse racing,’ when it arrives next summer.
Each team will race in bespoke team colours, with 12 teams – each consisting of 2-4 trainers working together, three jockeys, stable staff and a squad of 30 horses – will compete across 36 handicap races, each worth £50,000.
All six meetings will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
“In recent years Sky Sports has been instrumental in helping mainstream sports grow their fan bases exponentially, appealing to a broad audience of sports enthusiasts and innovating in the process,” said Matthew Imi, Chief Executive, Sky Sports Racing.
“We are confident that we can achieve something similar with horse racing, so partnering with an exciting new initiative like the Racing League makes absolute sense. If the Racing League and Sky Sports Racing’s coverage encourages the person who goes racing once a year to go again, then I would consider that a success.”
Newcastle will host the 2021 curtain raiser, but will also be the venue for the final leg of the six-event series. Meanwhile, Doncaster and Royal Windsor will hold one meeting each, with a further two events to take place at Lingfield Park.
Mark Spincer, Managing Director of ARC Racing Division, which manages the racecourses involved, said: "We are very pleased to have been able to work with the teams at the Racing League, BHA and Sky Sports Racing to arrange the fixtures at our racecourses for 2021, and help facilitate this innovative new competition for our sport."