Richard Hughes: more evening meetings is bad news

Richard Hughes does not support the expansion of evening racing

PICTURE: Chelmsford City More evening meetings is bad news for horsemen
By Richard Hughes 12:07PM 6 AUG 2016

Racing Post columnist Richard Hughes gives his thoughts on the 2017 fixture list, particularly the expansion of the evening racing programme.

IT SEEMS to me when fixture lists are put together the last people thought of are those responsible for the horses who provide the entertainment.

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In 2017 there are 77 more evening meetings scheduled than was the case for 2016. There will also now be evening racing every Saturday. Neither piece of news will have led to much in the way of celebrating in racing yards.

We don’t like evening racing, particularly on a Friday and Saturday, for a number of reasons.

Owners have to pay staff additional expenses if their horse runs at night. If lads gets back late they can’t ride out first or second lot the next morning. Crucially, as well, most of my staff who travel with horses at the weekends are the ones who, in theory, should be enjoying their weekend off. That would apply to most yards.

I advise owners not to run on Friday evenings. It took me five hours to get to Newmarket last week. That’s no fun for an owner.

There are too many evening meetings and too many meetings overall. Fields often fall apart because trainers can’t afford to send just the one horse to some tracks. If it’s too expensive to send one horse they don’t send any.

Sometimes, however, the programme book will dictate we have to run on a Saturday night. The racecourses so keen to stage those fixtures should do more to make them attractive to owners. They could put in an extra £1,000 to every race. It’s not so much that they necessarily need to do that or have to do that. It’s more that they should do that.

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