Owners returning to the races

03 July 2020

Dear Owner,
I am delighted to see owners returning to courses this week just in time for the Derby. This is the first step on a long road and I would like to thank you for your patience to date. Rest assured, that as the BHA and Government move through the phases of the return of sport, so too will we on the protocols surrounding owner attendance. We want to ensure that owners, given their enormous contribution, can have the most enjoyable experience possible under the current circumstances.
Below you will be able to find an update to the BHA’s protocol, the full protocols themselves as well as an extensive Q&A on why the current guidance remains in its current form.
It is encouraging to see so many of you taking the opportunity to go to the races under these protocols and I hope that we will continue to see owners out on course supporting their horses over the Derby weekend and beyond. I would encourage you to get in contact with any suggestions as to how racecourses might be able to improve the owner experience.
Some Owners have voiced their concerns regarding the current protocols and I felt it may be useful to directly address a few themes:

  1. Hospitality and apparent discrepancy with non raceday activity - Racecourses have to comply with a range of legislation and licences that are currently in place.  Some of these are only relevant when certain activities take place on the racecourse. On racedays only, racecourses are covered by the Safety at Sports Grounds Legislation and also by the Covid-19 Stage 3 guidance for Elite Sports.  These two sets of legislation are very specific about the standards that should be met with regards to how the venue is operated for Behind Closed Doors racing. On other days (ie non-racedays), racecourses can operate under their Liquor Licence and hence, under the Covid-19 regulations, are able to offer a wider range of service including food and beverage.
  2. Interaction with trainers and jockeys – The ROA and RCA is working with racecourses to provide space where owners, trainers and jockeys can safely interact before and after a race whilst respecting social distancing. Safety remains the top priority and Racecourses are working to introduce briefing areas for all fixtures where it is practicable to do so. Provision may vary depending on the racecourse, and owners will be advised as to how the briefing area will operate on arrival at the fixture. 
Whilst the existing protocols are frustrating, safety remains the top priority. I am often reminded by instances such as the recent local lockdown in Leicester that we are in the middle of an extremely serious pandemic and this challenging period for racing is not over. I am also reminded that these protocols are not a one way street and if racing fails to satisfy Government guidance or is seen to break the rules, we will be going backwards. We will continue to work with the BHA and Government to ensure we get that balance right and that owners can have a great experience on the course.
As Owners, I hope you will understand that this continues to be a particularly challenging period and the fast-moving legislation and regulation requires careful attention. Owners on track is a first step. Getting to a place where owners can remain on course all day and enjoy the full services courses have to offer will take time, but we are working on it. At the ROA we will continue to work hard to represent your interests as this develops.
If you have any further questions or queries please do not hesitate to get in touch on info@roa.co.uk. As ever, full guidance on the protocols and other COVID-19 related matters can be found on the ROA’s guidance page.
Yours sincerely,
Charlie Liverton

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