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Prospect of Good Friday action back on agenda.

BRITISH racing's version of the Good Friday agreement could be on its way, after the start of talks that will decide whether the sport breaks its self-imposed eve-of-Easter abstinence in 2011.

The BHA's resistance to racing on Good Friday was increased in last year's strategic fixture review, in order to protect traditional open days at Lambourn and Middleham, and to give jockeys a natural break after the annual Lesters awards event.

However, Racecourse Association race planning executive Carla Moore revealed that the issue had been raised on behalf of her members at the Levy Board-backed betting patterns working party.

She said: "Some racecourses wanted to explore the possibility of racing on Good Friday, and we have asked the bookmakers to provide figures for what it might generate in levy, because if the amount raised doesn't outweigh costs of putting on racing, we can't make a case to the BHA."

Moore said the ideal racing programme would probably feature four fixtures, with some tied in to the existing open days, or strategically allocated so as not to offer competition.

The two open days are understood to make about pounds 50,000 a year for racing charities. Promoters of racing on the day would wish to secure at least that sum, and more, from the combined effects of racing taking place and being covered in betting shops.

BHA racing director Ruth Quinn confirmed that the governing body's directors were now more open to persuasion about racing on Good Friday.

Quinn said: "The board has long acknowledged that well-established open days are a unique opportunity to promote the sport and raise a considerable sum for racing-related charities.

"But public holidays provide an ideal opportunity to introduce potential new customers to the sport.

"So we want the sport to give detailed consideration over the rest of 2009 and the early part of 2010 to the pros and cons of a programme of Good Friday racing in 2011.

"There will be consultation between the Racecourse Association and Horsemen's Group, then detailed research and analysis."

She added: "If it looked like an opportunity the sport couldn't turn down, the BHA board would probably look at fixtures that had strong links with local communities and could raise similar amounts of - or more - money for racing charities."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 23, 2009
Words:379
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