Innovative Moves for British Racing

History was made on Sunday July 25 with the first evening horse racing meeting held in Britain. The race card at Musselburgh in Scotland proved to be a big hit with a peak audience on ITV4 of 244.000 and an average of 171,000.

It wasn’t a card that went deep into the evening. It began at 3.45 with the last race taking place at 7pm. This was the first of the Sky Bet series of three Sunday evening races with prize money of over £600,000. The largest first prize on this card was £15,462.

Why introduce this new series? Ed Gretton, who works for the Racecourse Media Group said it was to provide “good quality racing and betting opportunities”, and bookmakers have been please with how the first meeting went.

A turnover almost three times that of a usual Sunday was reported by William Hill. Spokesman Rupert Adams described the launch as “brilliant.” Turnover for the Sunday meeting was close to that for the York meeting on Saturday. It was a welcome boost for them with Euro 2020 over and the Olympics mainly taking place late at night/early morning.

Paddy Power were also pleased with how Sunday progressed. Spokesman Paul Binfield said it “performed well in terms of volume” and “very strong in comparison to other Sunday meetings of similar quality.” Betfair’s Barry Orr said the meeting was a “resounding success” with good figures on both their sportsbook and Exchange.

The fact that the meeting had terrestrial coverage was a “positive factor” said David Stevens from Coral. “There’s nothing not to like about it,” he said, and it will be interesting to se jut how it develops.

Punters were probably happy too as three of the seven races on the card were won by the favourite. Anyone who had some cash on 25-1 winner Mytilda would have had pretty good Sunday too. The Sunday Series resumes with a meeting at Haydock on August 8 and concludes on the 22nd at Sandown.

This is the first of two new ventures in the UK horse racing scene. Thursday July 29 sees the start of the Racing League at Newcastle. This sees 12 teams going head-to-head on every Thursday night for six weeks, kind of the Europa League of horse racing.

Six races will take place on each card, all of them having £50,000 in prize money and 100 league points up for grabs. The winner gets 25 points and whoever has the most after 36 races is the Racing League champion.

Those taking part include Team ThoroughBid, Team BullionVault, Goat Racing, Team ODDSbible, Team Ireland and Team Swish Trainers involved include Richard Hannon, Andrew Balding, Gary Moore. Mick Channon, Charlie Fellowes, Roger Charlton. Donnacha O’Brien, Joseph O’Brien and Clive Cox.