Twelve branded teams to compete over eight weeks of competition
"The Series" follows Formula One's model of team ownership
Organizers hope to broaden racing audiences
What do you get when you mix horse racing with Formula One?
A new flat-racing competition called “The Series” will see 12 branded teams – each with one trainer, four jockeys and 30 horses – compete against each other at some of the UK’s most famous racecourses from 2019.
Just like Red Bull in F1 and Team Sky in cycling, the teams will be owned by major international brands.
All 48 races across the eight meetings will have a prize money pot of at least £100,000 ($138,000) which will be divided among stable staff, owners, trainers or jockeys.
“This is a fantastic chance for racing to lead the way in changing how people watch sport, both live and in terms of bite-size, interactive content,” said Jeremy Wray, chief executive of Championship Horse Racing (CHR), which developed the concept.
Twenty20 Cricket, Formula E
Organizers hope the new format will “turbo boost the audience, prize money and participation growth rates” of the sport, similar to how the Twenty20 format has aided cricket.
The CHR’s website also states it hopes The Series “will showcase the pure excitement of the sport”, as well as distancing it from gambling.
"The Series" - what's it all about?
It also aims to attract more casual fans, dismissing the idea “that ‘expert’ knowledge is a pre-requisite to following the action.”
Gambling – or “having a punt” in British parlance – is a staple of life in the UK, particularly on big horse racing days.
Racing is of huge importance to the British economy. After soccer, it is the UK’s best attended sport, with a total economic impact of £3.45 billion ($4.76 million), according to a 2013 report by consultancy firm Deloitte.
“Jeremy and his team are bringing a really far-thinking approach to the offer they’re taking to market for brands to get involved,” said Simon Bazalgette, group chief executive of The Jockey Club, which runs 15 racecourse venues in Britain.
The Jockey Club, which stages events including The Investec Derby, Randox Health Grand National, and The Cheltenham Festival, helped CHR to develop its concept.
Jeremy Gosden, a two-time champion trainer, has also put his weight behind the new series, calling the concept “the most creative and positive racing sponsorship opportunity I have seen.”