Eight racecourses have committed to hosting a new horse racing series in which teams will compete in leagues.
Known as ‘The Series’, the plan is for it to take place on consecutive Thursday evenings in the summer of 2019 with millions of pounds in prize money.
Ayr, Epsom, Goodwood, Haydock, Leopardstown, Newbury, Newmarket and Sandown are each set to stage meetings with six Flat races.
Each of the 48 races, from 25 July – 12 September, is worth at least £100,000.
The meetings are additional to the British fixture list and require the approval of the British Horseracing Authority.
The series is being organised by Championship Horse Racing and its chief executive, Jeremy Wray – a former chairman of Swindon Town FC – said reaching agreement with the racecourses was “a key milestone”.
“Over the next few months we’ll be announcing the teams and the media partners who will broadcast The Series across the world,” he added.
“We’re thrilled that The Series will take place at such prestigious courses and that it will debut in three countries. They are great locations and have superb facilities for summer evening racing that promises fans something they’ve never experienced before.
“Fans will be encouraged to engage with the teams and our aim is to help tell the stories about the tens of thousands of people involved in the sport.”
Each team will comprise a racing manager, four jockeys and a squad of 30 horses.
What has the reaction been?
The plan has been criticised by leading owner and sponsor Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, who described it as a “ridiculous idea”.
Al Thani, who heads up Qatar Racing, posted on Twitter urging the British Horseracing Authority to consult with trainers and owners before proceeding.
His views were backed up by the owner of multiple Group 1-winner Laurens, John Dance, whose firm Vertem Asset Management recently took over sponsorship of the final Group 1 of the British Flat season at Doncaster.
“For an owner it feels a bit like being a football club that buys players, pays their wages but then watches them play for another club,” he wrote on Twitter.