Carlisle’s Race Day Experience Is Rated ‘Gold Standard’

Carlisle Racecourse has been awarded Gold Standard status and named among 15 of Britain’s best racecourses by the Racehorse Owners Association.

The accolade, given in a competitive way for the fourth year, comes from the ROA, the body that has represented racehorse owners for more than 70 years and currently has in excess of 8,000 members.

This is the first time Carlisle has been awarded Gold Standard status.

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 top tracks in each category that were considered to provide owners with the best race day experience will hold the Award for the next 12 months.

The 2018 Gold Standard Award holders will now be in contention for their respective category’s ‘Racecourse of the Year’ at the annual ROA Horseracing Awards to be held in London on Thursday December 6th.

Those awarded the Gold Standard are:

Large racecourses: Ascot; Ayr; Cheltenham; Chester; Haydock Park; and York.

Small racecourses: Bangor-on-Dee; Carlisle; Fakenham; Hamilton Park; Market Rasen; Musselburgh; Perth; Sedgefield; and Uttoxeter.

Molly Dingwall, Carlisle Racecourse’s General Manager, said: “I am so thrilled Carlisle has been named as one of the course’s which delivers a Gold Standard race day experience for owners.

“This is a seal of approval of the hard work of everyone connected with the racecourse. So many dedicated people go into making this a great place to spend a day at the races.

“We have had a great start to our 2018/19 jumps season. The feedback we are getting about the improvements we have made here, and are continuing to make, to assure the race day experience is the best for all has been really positive.

“This recognition from the ROA is the icing on the cake.”

Alan Pickering, Chairman of the ROA’s Race Day Committee, said: “Chairing the Race Day Committee is a wonderful opportunity to supplement my own ad hoc racecourse experience with the more systematic input received from ROA members and committee members who visit all 61 tracks. It is a real eye-opener to see how the efforts of racecourse management and staff respond to the needs of owners. While capital investment is an important part of this response, it is only money well spent if it is leveraged by staff training and the right customer care spirit.

“There is a wide variety of ways in which racecourses and owners interact. Variety is the spice of life, but variety of quality is no longer acceptable if minimum standards are not being fulfilled. Good racecourses use multimedia to keep owners informed on both a timely and timeless basis. Examples of the latter are easy to navigate websites containing basic information while the former is again typified by innovative variety.

“Some racecourses write to owners early in the year highlighting race day features and particular fixtures. This helps us calibrate horse fitness, our own work commitments and opportunities to run our favourite horses on our favourite racecourses. In other instances, the communication starts at the entry stage and can continue after the race day with a ‘how was it for you?’ email.

“Interaction around the race day experience is what makes ownership worthwhile. Knowing that we will – win or lose – have a good day makes a real difference. Help with getting to the station after the race meeting is just as important as getting us there on time. Bad journeys home can either take the icing off the cake or add insult to injury. Every day at the races as an owner is a special day for friends and family alike.

“When deciding upon the Gold Standard Award winners we almost needed the photo finish equipment. Decisions were difficult as there has been a wonderful enhancement to the owners’ experience at so many of our racecourses.

“At the heart of the Gold Standard scheme is continuous improvement. It is heartening, therefore, to see that Newbury and Wetherby have both been identified as those racecourses which have made most improvement in their respective categories during 2018. Let’s hope that it will be onwards and upward in the years to come.”

Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the ROA, said: “The 2016 Racehorse Owners Survey highlighted the race day experience as one of the most important aspects affecting the enjoyment of racehorse ownership and, in order to retain owners, it is more important than ever that racecourses continue to understand the role they play.

“Whilst the unveiling of new or improved owners’ facilities is always something to applaud, it is often the little things, the personal touches, that make the difference between a good and a great race day experience. Racecourses that offer a welcome drink, which provide race recordings to owners other than the winners, which use social media to highlight and engage with owners, as well as those that look after the horses and stable staff, are often to be found out-performing those with bigger budgets. Of course, we can never forget the importance of prize-money, and we are delighted that all of our Award recipients have unlocked all of their Appearance Money Scheme races.

“The number of racecourses - particularly in the Small category - rising to the challenge of the competitive Gold Standard Award process has continued to impress the Committee, although more work is still to be done in ensuring a minimum standard across all racecourses. This is something we will be looking to address into 2019 and look forward to announcing some exciting developments in due course.”

The next race meeting at Carlisle is on Monday November 12. Tickets are £15 for adults (in advance) or £18 (on the day). Under-18s free entry when accompanied by an adult. For full details go to carlisle.thejockeyclub.co.uk

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