Ayr is among 12 of Britain’s 61 racecourses named as the best in the country for racehorse owners, and awarded Gold Standard status for the next 12 months.
The accolade, given in a competitive way for the third year, comes from the Racehorse Owners Association, the body that has represented racehorse owners for over 70 years and currently has in excess of 8,000 members.
ROA representatives visited every track in Britain at least once to assess all aspects of the raceday experience for owners. In addition, feedback was provided by hundreds of ROA members following their racecourse visits.
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 are: Large racecourses: Ascot; Ayr; Cheltenham; Chester; Haydock Park; and York. The six repeated their success of 2016, while it is the third year in a row that Ascot, Ayr, Chester, Haydock Park and York have been among the top group.
David Brown, Ayr Racecourse Managing Director said : “I am proud on behalf of the entire team at Ayr Racecourse to learn we have retained the ROA Gold Standard and remain one of only six large racecourses to be awarded given the accolade.
“This reflects all the hard work and dedication and attention to detail we pride ourselves on reflecting the importance in which we hold racehorse owners.
“Our aim is to deliver the best experience possible for owners and to receive recognition like this is very rewarding.”
Small racecourses: Bangor-on-Dee; Bath; Hamilton Park; Market Rasen; Musselburgh; Sedgefield.
Alan Pickering, Chairman of the ROA’s Raceday Committee, said: “The competitive nature of the Gold Standard Award was seen to greater effect than ever before this year, with the closest finishes thus far. The decision-making process was really challenging as the vast majority of racecourses showed improvement, which demonstrates their recognition of the importance of owners, and keeping them in the sport.
“We must therefore offer the ROA members who took the time to provide their raceday experience feedback our heartfelt thanks. Whilst the ROA Raceday Committee visits every course every year, they cannot be present at every fixture, so the members can give us a real sense of how each racecourse is doing day-in, day-out. Their feedback often made the difference between a course receiving an Award or just missing out.
Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the ROA, said: “The experience that an owner receives at a racecourse is one of the most important aspects affecting the enjoyment of racehorse ownership. As the 2016 Racehorse Owners Survey highlighted, 44% of lapsed owners cite racecourse facilities and the treatment of owners on a race day as a factor in their decision to give up ownership. It is therefore financially and commercially critical to the sport, that as we continue our endeavours to retain, and increase, the number of racehorse owners, that they have a positive experience on the racecourse whether their horses are winners or not. To that end, the ROA commits to continue working closely with racecourses to ensure that owners are looked after in the best possible way. Our awards truly set the ‘Gold Standard’ that all racecourses can aspire to and we celebrate those which go the extra mile.
“Whilst several courses have unveiled new or refurbished facilities this year, we have seen plenty of other enhancements to the owners’ race day experience that make a real difference. These include the entertainment of placed connections, a welcome drink upon arrival, personalised race cards and swing badges, and a thank you letter post-race day. Prizemoney levels as ever, remain of critical importance to the middle and lower tiers of British racing, and we are grateful to all those racecourses that continue to increase their executive contributions.”