The BHA have released a list of 1,478 British horse racing fixtures for 2023 with the programme looking pretty much the same as this year.
Fans of the sport of horse racing have a packed schedule to look forward to once again. Dates for the all the major meetings have now been confirmed. A key takeout from that is how late the British Flat turf season gets underway.
Beginning on Saturday, 1 April with the traditional Doncaster races meeting and the Lincoln card, that effects the whole campaign. The same racecourse brings the curtain down on the Flat season but not until Saturday, 11 November.
While some events retain fixed dates, such as the Epsom Derby on Saturday, 3 June, the lateness of some British horse racing fixtures in 2023 contrasts sharply with this year. The Northumberland Plate at Newcastle, for example, will be run on Saturday, 1 July instead of in June.
All of the Glorious Goodwood races were in July this year. Come next season, this major Qatar-backed horse racing gala takes place entirely in August. That in turn means the Ebor Festival at York is as late as it can be, concluding with the valuable Ebor Handicap card on Saturday, 26 August.
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List of Key Dates & British Horse Racing Fixtures 2023
- 1 January – Cheltenham New Year’s Day Card
- 7 January – Sandown Park races featuring the Tolworth Hurdle
- 21 January – Ascot hosts the Clarence House Chase
- 28 January – Cheltenham’s Festival Trials Day
- 4 February – Sandown has the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase
- 11 February – Newbury races host the Betfair Hurdle card
- 18 February – Ascot has the Ascot Chase
- 14-18 March – it’s the Cheltenham Festival 2023
- 1 April – Doncaster hosts the start of the Flat turf season
- 7 April – Newcastle stages All-Weather Finals day
- 15 April – the Grand National takes place at Aintree
- 22 April – Ayr has the Scottish Grand National
- 29 April – Sandown brings the National Hunt season to a close
- 5-7 May – the Guineas Festival at Newmarket races featuring the first Classics
- 10-12 May – Chester hosts the May Festival
- 17-19 May – York races has the Dante Festival
- 20 May – Newbury stages the first Group 1 Flat races for older horses, the Lockinge Stakes
- 2-3 June – Epsom Downs races with The Oaks and The Derby
- 20-24 June – it’s Royal Ascot 2023
- 8 July – Sandown stages the Coral Eclipse Stakes
- 13-15 July – Newmarket hosts the July Festival including the July Cup
- 29 July – Ascot races has the King George & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes
- 1-5 August – it’s Glorious Goodwood 2023
- 23-26 August – the Ebor Festival at York takes place
- 9 September – Haydock Park races has its Sprint Cup day
- 28-30 September – Newmarket hosts the Cambridgeshire Meeting
- 10-11 October – Chepstow races mark the official start of the core National Hunt season
- 10-11 October – The Future Champions Festival at Newmarket takes place
- 21 October – Ascot stages QIPCO British Champions Day 2023
- 11 November – Doncaster brings the curtain down on the British Flat turf season
- 17-19 November – Cheltenham hosts its November Meeting
- 25 November – Haydock has the Betfair Chase card
- 1-2 December – Newbury stages the Winter Carnival including the Ladbrokes Trophy
- 2 December – Newcastle races host the Fighting Fifth Hurdle
- 9 December – Sandown has the Tingle Creek Chase
- 23 December – Ascot stages the Long Walk Hurdle just before Christmas
- 26 December – Boxing Day racing across the UK including the King George VI Chase
- 27 December – Chepstow hosts the Welsh Grand National
- 28 December – Newbury has its Challow Hurdle card
Analysis: No reduction in number of British horse racing fixtures, Easter delays Grand National
SportsLens Horse Racing Editor Jamie Clark
An overstuffed set of British horse racing fixtures in 2023 totalling almost 1,500 meetings is what we have next year. There are 59 racecourses in the UK (so not including Northern Ireland). That means on average these tracks hosts around 25 days each per venue in the next calendar year.
Easter falling on Sunday, 9 April is just 24 hours after the traditional slot for the Grand National. Moving the premier Aintree races back a week as a result might not be such a bad thing, though. It gives horses who ran at the Cheltenham Festival a longer break between the major meetings.
Debate rages about whether there is too much racing. While changes to the programme by the Jump Pattern Committee announced recently were cosmetic, this is further evidence than the fixture list needs surgery. With so many stakeholders involved in the conversation, don’t expect change any time soon.
Something’s got to give, though. By 2024, the sport and its related industry really do need to reach some consensus about a programme of racing that is fit for purpose relating to the equine population we have in the UK. The British horse racing fixtures in 2023 don’t really do that.