Gold standard accolade presented to Ayr racecourse by owners

Twelve of Britain’s 60 racecourses were today named as the best in the country for racehorse owners, and awarded Gold Standard status for 2016.

The accolade, given in a competitive way for the second year, comes from the Racehorse Owners Association, the body that has represented racehorse owners for over 70 years and currently has in excess of 7,600 members.

ROA representatives visited every track in Britain at least once to assess all aspects of the raceday experience for owners. Racecourses are divided into two categories – large and small – with their classification decided by a range of factors, including the quality of racing and attendance figures. The six tracks in each category that were considered to provide owners with the best raceday experience will hold the Award for the next 12 months. Those awarded the Gold Standard were; Large racecourses: Ascot; Ayr; Cheltenham; Chester; Haydock Park; and York. Small racecourses: Fakenham; Hamilton Park; Market Rasen; Musselburgh; Newton Abbot; and Nottingham.

One racecourse from each section will be named as their respective category’s ‘Racecourse of the Year’ at the annual ROA Horseracing Awards to be held in London on Thursday 1st December.

Alan Pickering, Chairman of the ROA’s Raceday Committee, said: “The competitive nature of the new ROA Gold Standard Award scheme has been seen to good effect this year. Many of those courses that demonstrated excellence in 2015 have hit even higher heights this year, whilst other courses have upped their game considerably and it is pleasing to welcome some new Award winners.

“There were also several courses that just missed out, and as a result of these near misses, next year will see the addition of two new awards – the Most Improved Large, and Small, Racecourse. In addition to providing encouragement to those who have nearly attained Gold Standard status, these new awards will hopefully incentivise those energetic racecourse managers who are some way off attaining the standard but could win a Most Improved award.

“It is sad to see that there are still some courses – large and small – who continue to fall someway behind the rest when it come to the owner’s raceday experience. We will maintain a dialogue with all courses and seek to make improvements by encouragement. The ROA survey in 2016 clearly showed the correlation between an owner’s race day experience and ownership retention levels and we look forward to working with those courses which do not meet the minimum requirements in 2017 and beyond.”

Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the ROA, said: “The raceday experience is one of the most important aspects of the enjoyment of being a racehorse owner. The sport can endeavour to increase the number of racehorse owners only if they have a thoroughly enjoyable time on track, whether their horses are successful or not. So we are committed to working closely with racecourses to ensure that owners are looked after in the best possible way. Our awards set the Gold Standard that all racecourses can aspire to and celebrate those which go the extra mile for owners.

“As our team have travelled the country this year, they have witnessed many enhancements to the owners’ raceday experience, including additional complimentary admission badges, improvements in the provision of complimentary food and drink, a greater emphasis on racecourse staff providing a first-class experience, plus entertainment for placed connections as well as winners after races. We are truly grateful to all those courses that place a special emphasis on owners and their horses.

“Special thanks too, to the hundreds of ROA members who have been in touch over the course of the year giving us feedback on their race day experience; both complimentary and critical. This feedback forms part of our decision making process and we urge all members to provide feedback where possible.”