Musselburgh Racecourse Named RCA Showcase Champion for 2023

Paul Swainin Equestrian
  • Musselburgh Racecourse named Showcase Champion after winning three awards
  • Plumpton Racecourse named Groundstaff Champion
  • The Jockey Club win Chairman's Award for Operational Excellence
  • Racecourses celebrate best practice across ten categories encapsulating racecourse operation

Musselburgh Racecourse has been named as the Champion Racecourse at the 12th annual Racecourse Association (RCA) Showcase Awards.

At the gala ceremony held at Aintree Racecourse, Musselburgh picked up three individual awards en route to being named as the overall Champion for 2023: the Racing Post Readers' Award, Marketing and Food & Beverage.

The Racing Post Readers' Award asked the racing public to nominate their favourite racecourse based on raceday experience, customer service and value for money. Musselburgh scored the highest average across these metrics and polled almost 20% of the overall votes.

Musselburgh's continued drive for excellence in Food & Beverage was evident in the Pinkie's Deli, a Taste of Scotland's Larder initiative. A move to more a locally-sourced and evidence-based menu was a resounding success with racegoers, with the racecourse seen as best in class throughout British racing for its fantastic food and drink offerings. York also received a Highly Commended accolade in this category for the new Flying Frankie real ale bar.

As a highly successful one-off event in 2019, the Corgi Derby returned to Musselburgh and this time was integral to a campaign which won the Marketing category. Musselburgh's use of data to target specific demographics and tailor the messaging, ticket packages and raceday experience was deemed best-in-class by the judges with the results clearly showing a hugely impressive return.

The East Lothian racecourse was also a Finalist in two other categories on the night, demonstrating a racecourse operating to the highest standards on multiple fronts.

Musselburgh Racecourse General Manager Bill Farnsworth commented on the historic success: "I am incredibly proud of the team here at Musselburgh who have shown incredible resilience over the past few years. We have faced our share of adversity but our team was resolute in their commitment to Musselburgh Racecourse and putting on a fantastic experience for our customers and participants.

"Our key initiatives in 2023 have really hit the mark and I'm delighted to celebrate this success with colleagues from across the sport."

In an evening packed with celebration of best practice from Britain's racecourses, hosts Rishi Persad and reigning WBC, WBO and IBF light-middleweight champion and IBF welterweight champion Natasha Jonas guided over 250 guests through the Showcase Awards. The event is presented by the RCA and partnered by Great British Racing, Racing Together, the Racing Foundation and Racing Post.

Alongside Musselburgh's three award wins and Champion crown, it was a fantastic night for Scottish Racing as a whole with wins for Hamilton Park, Perth and Ayr whilst Kelso received a Highly Commended accolade from the independent judging panel.

Hamilton Park's success at the Showcase Awards continued with recognition from racehorse owners in the RCA/ROA Owners' Racecourse of the Year. In this public-voted award, owners from all levels of the ownership pyramid were asked to nominate racecourses based on a number of points concerning the raceday experience with and without a runner. Hamilton Park received the highest average score across this criteria and also the highest quantum of votes overall.

Perth's victory in the Diversity & Inclusion category came thanks to the Pride Raceday, the first-headline billed Pride Raceday in British racing. The judges were wowed by the infectious celebration and joy the raceday delivered with thousands of new racegoers visiting Perth for the first time.

Ayr's work to partner with Ayrshire Cancer Support was acknowledged by the judges in the Racing Together Community Award. The long-standing partnership has continued to develop with the racecourse using its extensive support network to generate awareness, funds and engagement with the charity on a laudable scale. Royal Windsor received a Highly Commended accolade in this category for their ambitious initiative to support 26 charities on 26 racedays throughout the season.

As part of the Racecourse Groundstaff Awards, Plumpton was crowned Champion Groundstaff team. Plumpton had already been named as the jump racecourse of the year for Groundstaff and beat off competition for the Champion crown from fellow individual category winners Hamilton Park (flat racecourse) and Ayr (dual purpose racecourse).

The Jockey Club's work at the cutting edge of Operational Excellence in 2023 was rewarded with the Chairman's Award. This award has only been presented a handful of times in the history of the Showcase Awards and is for initiatives undertaken by racecourses worthy of outstanding merit. Throughout 2023 the Jockey Club has been at the forefront of some of the sport's most challenging operational work and has consistently provided help and support via the RCA to all racecourses based on their shared experience.

In the second running of the Racing Foundation Green Award, Ascot claimed the prize for their outstanding Racing to Zero programme which saw the world-famous racecourse run a carbon-neutral enclosure at Royal Ascot and implement a range of initiatives designed to cut the racecourse's environmental impact. As winners of this award, Ascot will now receive a fast-tracked route to bid for up to £20,000 from the Racing Foundation to support the legacy of this work. Kelso received a Highly Commended accolade for their rainwater/drainwater harvesting pond which has reaped both environmental and financial benefits for the borders track.

Chepstow's inaugural Welsh Jump Jockeys' Derby claimed the Racing Connection award thanks to its twofold success of raising vital funds and awareness for children's cancer charity Latch, itself integral to the ongoing support of trainer Christian Williams' daughter, Betsy, and showcasing Welsh jockeys to the wider British public. Arena Racing Company received a Highly Commended accolade for the introduction of Syndicate Lounges across all 16 of their racecourses.

Former Champions Pontefract continued their excellent record at the Showcase Awards by winning the Raceday category. Pontefract's Raceday For All delivered a range of bespoke initiatives designed to welcome racegoers who previously may have thought a day's racing was inaccessible due to mental and/or physical challenges. The bold decision to swap a previously-popular raceday with this theme was rewarded with increased attendance and glowing feedback from racegoers. Exeter and Wincanton's West Country Weekend double-header received a Highly Commended accolade in this category.

Salisbury's Talk & Walk initiative was a high scorer with the judges and claimed the Non-Raceday Award. Acknowledging the significant number of perimenopausal and menopausal women feeling like they have limited support and guidance on the subjects, the racecourse welcomed anyone wishing to learn more to meet at the racecourse in a safe environment and walk the track. A one-off initiative has now become a regular group which has also attracted Government support.

RCA Chairman Wilf Walsh commented: "I am delighted to share this year's Showcase Awards winners and highly commended and extend my congratulations to each of the teams. Our class of 2023 represents a range of racecourses operating at the highest level in their respective fields and I am encouraged by the levels of innovation shown as we look to attract and retain racegoers.

"Musselburgh Racecourse are worthy Champions and join our esteemed Showcase list. With five Finalist nominations and three victories, there can be little doubt this is a racecourse team that deeply cares about their customers, participants and place within the local community."

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