No move to Good Friday racing in early thinking for 2014

goodfridayAn early framework document about the racing calendar for 2014 has drawn a wide range of responses from people across the racing industry.

There was disappointment from Musselburgh general manager Bill Farnsworth that the application he had made for a Good Friday meeting has not borne fruit yet, though he was hopeful that when the final fixtures come out, the situation would be different. He said, “I’m sure they’re still considering it and we wouldn’t expect anything to be offered right now in the process. We’re still interested in providing an exciting opportunity. I appreciate it is a controversial issue, as was Sunday racing many years ago, but I’m all for giving people the freedom of choice.”

Which people he didn’t say, but presumably Farnsworth was not thinking about jockeys, stable staff and betting shop workers. Speaking for the jockeys, Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys’ Association, said, “It’s excellent that Good Friday remains blank as our members don’t want racing that day and many others have been fighting against it. There seems no reason why Musselburgh shouldn’t race on Easter Monday if they want a three day meeting over Easter.”

The Racing Post has seen the document, and reports that it bears a strong similarity to this season’s calendar, with a stuttering start to the flat season, and two short breaks in August and September in the jumps timetable. That hasn’t proved popular in the past, and won’t be welcomed now. The reason for an outline appearing so much like this year’s is that the paper is an early framework document, and it’s far too early to call it even a provisional calendar. In terms of who will race when next season, it’s a bit of a red herring.

For example, one notable absentee from the lists is the name of Great Leighs, although as a spokesman from the British Horseracing Authority told me, it doesn’t mean that racing won’t be back in Essex next year. Their application is still under consideration, and Great Leighs could well appear in September, when the actual list is published.

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