0 British Racecourses Raising the Bar on Customer Accessibility and Welcome

  • British racecourses auditing and enhancing accessibility on a race day
  • Live Tourism and Level Playing Field offering expert guidance in three-year project
  • Former jump jockey Jacob Pritchard Webb has joined assessment team to offer insight
  • Project funded by Racing Foundation and racecourse contributions
British racecourses are continuing to enhance the raceday experience by commissioning audits to review venue accessibility, with the results of year one identifying clear trends to both address and celebrate.
The RCA, on behalf of its members, is leading the Racecourse Accessibility Project and partnered with expert third party agencies LiveTourism and Level Playing Field to offer comprehensive reviews of racecourse accessibility and subsequently work with racecourses to review the findings and address areas requiring attention. The project is scheduled to run for three years and is funded by the Racing Foundation and racecourse contributions.

LiveTourism has focussed on the race day experience for customers living with both physical and mental disability. A team of assessors with lived experience of disability visited all racecourses that opted into the project throughout 2022 and provided extensive reports highlighting best practice and areas for improvement across all aspects of the raceday experience.

The RCA and LiveTourism worked with the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) to welcome former jump jockey Jacob Pritchard Webb to the assessment team given his interest in the subject area and determination to improve standards for racegoers living with a disability. Jacob joined the assessments on six dates and was able to offer invaluable insight.

The assessments uncovered a series of trends which are consistent across participating racecourses, including both areas of best practice and areas for improvement. The average score of 69% indicates that racecourses offer a good experience for customers living with a disability, however there is a great deal the sport can do to raise this standard higher.

The RCA and racecourses will begin an ongoing workstream to address topics including the layout and staffing of catering/bar areas and the maintenance of accessible washroom facilities, whilst best practice can be found in the provisions made to aid visually/audibly impaired racegoers and viewing areas for people requiring wheelchairs.

To accompany the experiential assessment, Level Playing Field are conducting site-wide audits of racecourses in a 'bricks and mortar' review of the venue. These significant audits provide racecourse teams with detailed reports regarding their current site and graded recommendations to guide future remedial work. Given the scale of these assessments, Level Playing Field will split participating racecourses into three tranches taking place over 2022, 2023 and 2024.

The findings of the Racecourse Accessibility Project are being processed through the RCA's Raceday Experience Forum and will guide the executive's research portfolios for racecourses throughout the remainder of the year. In addition, meetings with both ARC and Jockey Club Racecourses head offices have been agreed to provide leaders with the findings.

Paul Swain, Raceday Experience & Communications Manager at the RCA commented: "This project represents a significant undertaking for the RCA and our members. We are aware from anecdotal feedback that there are areas to address regarding accessibility and we have supported these hypotheses with sector-leading analysis and expertise.

"Our attention is now firmly on working closely with our members to address the areas which are impacting racegoer enjoyment the most and also to share the best practice which is in evidence across British racecourses. The sport prides itself on being a great day out for all and this project is another example of how we are taking action to prove our commitment to this statement.

"I am grateful for the Racing Foundation's unwavering support with the Racecourse Accessibility Project and to the participating racecourses for investing their resource in this key area."

Rob Hezel, Chief Executive of the Racing Foundation, said: "It is vital for the survival of British racing that as many people as possible are able to enjoy a day at the races regardless of their personal circumstance, which is one of the reasons why the Racing Foundation has a key focus on funding ED&I projects within the sport.

"Racing must be for all and we trust the Foundation's three-year funding of the RCA's Racecourse Accessibility Project will lead to an improved race day experience for anyone living with physical and mental disabilities."

Jacob Pritchard Webb said: "This project meant a great deal to me and being able to be a part of it was important. Following my life changing injury, I felt my experiences of being a wheelchair user who regularly goes racing would be helpful and jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the audits that were done on the racecourses.

"Racing should be accessible for all people, regardless of the disability and these audits covered all those areas thoroughly and I felt in the reports and feedback given we have been able to help educate and advise racecourses on what improvements could be made going forward. I am excited to see the work that the RCA and its members do together in the future."
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