COVID-19 – stay in touch with racing’s response
How racing’s people and businesses are helping their communities
Last updated 22/05.
Stay in touch with this page during the shutdown as we reflect the work being done across racing to help those in need.
While on lockdown, a number of essential racecourse grounds and maintenance team members have created messages in support of NHS and key workers, whether mowing grass in the shape of NHS, or lighting up their racecourses blue. See Epsom’s effort below and follow our social channels to see more.
#ThankYouNHS— Aintree Racecourse (@AintreeRaces) April 2, 2020
𝐋𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐥’𝐬 𝐍𝐇𝐒 𝐃𝐚𝐲
We will be donating 10,000 tickets to the @NHSukxxczrtvdwwbwcw for the first day of the 2021 @RandoxHealth Grand National Festival.
The day will also be dedicated to our NHS heroes and be re-named Liverpool’s NHS Day ♥️
- Aintree: In addition to two pallets of food donations, they are supporting inner-city riding school charity Park Palace Ponies; hosting a Poetry Competition with Sefton Borough Council, and working with Everton in the Community to give 52 surplus hanging baskets to care homes and local residents.
- The Grand National Festival: On Thursday 2nd April, which would have been the first day of the 2020 Grand National Festival, the racecourse announced a giveaway of 10,000 free tickets for the same day in 2021, specifically to NHS workers, re-naming the day Liverpool’s NHS Day. Profits from bets placed on the ‘Virtual Grand National’ raised over £2.6 million for NHS Charities Together, the umbrella organisation that represents more than 140 NHS charities. Collectively, these charities contribute £1 million a day to support the work of the NHS. Racecourse Ambassador, Soprano Laura Wright sent a specially recorded video of her singing to the children of Alder Hey Hospital, as a replacement for the annual jockeys visit.
- Ascot: See above how the team have been lighting up their big screen in support of NHS and key workers. The track delivered supplies to a food bank in Slough, donating £3,000 worth of essential goods, ranging from tinned items of food to toiletries, and made a £3,000 donation. Following the cancellation of its popular Spring Family Raceday, which was scheduled for Sunday, March 29, Ascot collaborated with some of the entertainers who were due to perform and produced a range of videos and activities for children to enjoy online. Their annual Schools Art Competition is currently being judged online – view entries and vote for your favourite here. The racecourse has also supported emergency COVID-19 appeals for both the Berkshire Community Foundation (Dingley’s Promise), First Days Charity and Thames Hospice.
- Since Friday, 3rd April, volunteer employees from Ascot Racecourse and its security partners, CSP, have been providing a driving service to help NHS Frimley Trust transport medical staff and/or equipment between their hospital sites. The Head of Product for BMW/Mini UK has also kindly donated 10 of their BMW vehicles for this purpose. The racecourse has also become a testing centre for NHS key workers and their dependents.
- All-Weather Championships: the winners of the cut-short Arena Racing Company series have all kindly decided to donate all or a proportion of this money to an NHS charity to help fight the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, totalling over £25,000. This includes Champion Owner Godolphin who donated their entire £10,000 prize. Read more here.
- Arena Racing Company: The racecourse and greyhound group has announced it will be giving 50,000 tickets, split across its venues to NHS workers once it is deemed safe for racing to return, by way of saying thank you. With help from racing’s cartoonist Darren Bird have created downloadable colouring pages for their racecourses to share with followers (see tweet below from Hereford Racecourse).
- Arena Racing Company (ARC) and the Reuben Foundation have introduced a new scheme to support the communities local to its six venues. ARC will supply over 9,500 emergency supply boxes for distribution in the areas surrounding Newcastle, Chepstow, Fontwell, Wolverhampton, Great Yarmouth and Doncaster. The initiative is in association with Local Authorities to identify the essential needs of people who currently face real hardship throughout the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
- Wolverhampton, Ayr, Goodwood, Stratford and Newbury: are all sharing stay home messages with their followers
- Jockey Club Catering: Food Donations from cancelled fixtures are taking place across the group. Aintree has managed to donate pallets of Potatoes/ Eggs/ Milk and Fresh Produce to South Sefton Foodbank.
- Chester: Set up a local food bank drop off point, donating over £1,000 worth of food items, and also gave away free frozen meals to NHS workers. These activities only ran for a short time owing to the racecourse being put in lockdown due to illness.
- Goodwood: Louise Harwood, who manages the racecourse’s 4,000+ annual members, called all 184 members aged over 80 to check on their wellbeing and offer help. In cases, this has meant going to the supermarket on their behalf, in others it has simply meant being at the end of the phone to make the member feel less lonely. In one instance, an elderly member was having trouble with the computer, meaning that it was impossible to keep in touch via email and do online shopping. Louise enlisted the help of Goodwood Racecourse’s IT team, who were able to fix the problem by speaking with the member over the phone and giving the necessary assistance.
- Haydock Park: is set to become a drive-through testing centre for NHS workers who are self-isolating. It will operate on an appointment-only basis.
- Leicester: Created a drop-off point for a local food bank.
- Lingfield Park: In partnership with local publican, Simon from The Star Lingfield, they are providing fresh fruit and vegetables and cakes to help make up food parcels. Simon has already helped over 100 people in the Lingfield area with his food parcels.
- Ludlow: handed over all Oxygen from the Medical Room to the NHS. Using for free the Racecourse for Blood Donors.
- Newbury: has launched a partnership with Age Concern Newbury & District to feed the most vulnerable elderly via ‘Meals on Wheels’ in West Berkshire during the COVID-19 crisis. The Rocking Horse Nursery continues to remain open, providing childcare for a number of children whose parents are key workers in the local area. The children have been busy supporting the NHSNightingale Appeal, providing colourful pictures of rainbows to thank the incredible NHS staff. The pictures are being digitally posted across the Newbury Racecourse social platforms.
- Perth: Lending a set of radios to their Senior Racecourse Medical Officers who are front line NHS workers.
- York and Pontefract: Racecourse Staff volunteering to the help the NHS. York have also offered pansies which otherwise will be going to waste for those who pass the racecourse on their daily exercise.
- Warwick: opened as a pop up blood testing clinic in conjunction with Warwick Hospital. They have had a lot of patients skip appointments put off attending the hospital due to coronavirus concerns, so now instead they can now come to the racecourse to have tests taken. The team have asked local residents to drop off NHS-supporting rainbow pictures at the racecourse, to colour up the entrance and restaurant windows. It has proven very popular. The racecourse has six public footpaths, and is a vital location for local residents for their daily exercise. The council, whose job it is to service the bins have been struggling to get to the dog bins. Warwick’s remaining ground staff have stepped up to the challenge and have helped service the bins.
- York: The Stableside part of the organisation, which usually provides accommodation for stable staff, has switched its focus to offer NHS staff a place to stay. Some NHS staff are facing the extra challenge of being isolated from their own families, sometimes by travel distance or perhaps because their own household has vulnerable members. They need somewhere to sleep, have a meal and find a space to recharge their batteries, which is where Stableside has been able to help. This is being done whilst respecting the social distancing protocols and so the wellbeing of the small team and their guests. The racecourse has also given 8,000 surplus pansies, grown from seedling by the track’s gardeners, away to the public who naturally use the Knavesmire for their permitted exercise.
- Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) – using social media to keep helping beneficiaries: The IJF is finding innovative ways to make sure that as many of its beneficiaries as possible are fully connected with services during this national shutdown. The charity’s three centres are all closed to the public but the team has set up video consultations for a one-to-one Physiotherapy and Strength & Conditioning service. This includes supervision of exercises and providing bespoke rehabilitation plans. Long-term beneficiaries are being contacted regularly by phone by the IJF’s network of regional Almoners, so they can assist as necessary with their basic needs. Read more here.
- Racing Welfare – ready to respond: the charity announced a streamlined application process for the provision of Covid-19 hardship grants for anyone working in the British horseracing and breeding industry, in collaboration with key funders. Last week, Simone Sear, Director of Welfare spoke on the Luck on Sunday show to highlight other ways in which Racing Welfare is ready to support any of racing’s people during the coronavirus outbreak. You can watch this here.
- Racing to School: The education charity is sharing content online to explain its workbook activities that are used with school groups at racecourses. Also look out for videos from Racing to School Ambassadors, sharing advice and keep fit information. A new animated video is coming soon.
- Palace House: Palace House is currently closed but the team have developed ’30 things to do at home’, which are fun family activities linked to the venue and museum collections. Click here to take part! The team have also lent their 3D printer to local engineering student Georgie Altham who is using it to produce face masks for the NHS and Care Homes.
- The Racehorse Sanctuary: is experiencing increased demand for rehoming Thoroughbreds during this time, while like many other charities their fundraising events have ground to a halt. Find details and support their Covid-19 Emergency Appeal here
- The British Horseracing Authority: has launched an online learning hub: Racing2Learn which will allow racing staff to earn continued professional development points remotely during the shutdown.
- The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) and the Racing Foundation have agreed an immediate combined £22m cashflow and hardship funding package to support British racing during the coronavirus outbreak. The organisations have worked in conjunction with parties within British racing, with the objective of providing timely funds where they are most needed, whilst also ensuring the contributions are made in an accountable and sustainable manner which is in line with the objectives of both organisations.
- Careers in Racing: the team is promoting their job board to ensure all live jobs across racing are current to offer the best assistance to those struggling to find work
- World Horseracing: the digital platform has gathered messages of support for NHS and Key Workers rom well-known racing faces into a video
- Great British Racing (GBR): the sport’s promotional arm is re-releasing Jockey Fit home workout videos, which can be shared from here. Working collaboratively with racing bodies, they have created and shared messages of support for NHS and key workers.
- Newmarket Covid-19 emergency fund: a group including Jockey Club Estates, Godolphin, The Racing Centre, Newmarket Racecourse and others are working with the local authority on a Covid-19 emergency response and fund, administrated by the Newmarket Festival committee. The group is ensuring vulnerable residents are receiving essential goods and prescriptions, while hospitality businesses are cooking and delivering hot meals through an extensive volunteer network. This work is in tandem with Racing Welfare’s efforts to help racing staff in the town. The fund has benefitted from a generous £50,000 donation from racehorse owner Bill Gredley. Read more here.
- Weatherbys: the sport’s administrator is promoting social distancing on their social media, while their production team have been printing PPE sewing patterns for volunteers in the Northants area to create scrubs for GPs & Hospitals. They have launched a Silks on Screens initiative in support of our health service and workers, where they produce owner silks phone screensavers on demand, in exchange for a small donation to NHS Charities Together. Find out more and get yours here.
Jockey Club Estates in Lambourn have mown giant NHS lettering into the grass.
- Allertons: Read how the team who usually produce racing silks worn by jockeys have been volunteering their time to make scrubs for NHS workers.
Trainers, Owners & Jockeys
- Richard Hannon: has pledged to donate £25 per winner to NHS Charities once racing resumes.
- Mick Appleby: donated £2,000 from All-Weather Championships prizemoney to NHS Charities.
- Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds: the ownership syndicate has committed to donate a percentage of prizemoney to Racing Welfare once racing resumes; the amount will be subject to individual syndicate member agreement to opt in.
- Frankie Dettori: has donated 1,000 bottles of sports drinks to Newmarket Hospital staff as they work to treat patients during the coronavirus pandemic. The world-class jockey is a shareholder in hydration drinks company iPRO, and has donated to the hospital which has 100 NHS staff and is now being used as a testing centre. “It’s my local hospital and we try to support the staff there. As soon as I’m given the green light, I want to drive the truck there and hand over the drinks personally. As a shareholder I thought it would be a good gesture to give some of our product to the brilliant NHS staff at the Newmarket Hospital.” Dettori has also set up an appeal for the Italian Red Cross and is hoping to raise £100,000 for the NHS through the Equestrian Relief initiative. A new raffle in aid of NHS Charities Together will see one lucky winner enjoying a day as a racehorse owner.
- Rebecca Menzies has launched the ‘Rainbow Applause Racing Club’ in support of NHS charities. All prize money that racing club horse Rainbow Applause (named by Rebecca’s Twitter followers) wins, plus any profits the club makes will be donated to NHS charities.
- Tom Dunlop: son of trainer Harry, has been using his one hour of allocated exercise per day to run the all-weather gallops of Lambourn in order to raise money for the Lambourn Riding for the Disabled Association. The 14-year-old has now completed all 25 miles of the Jockey Club estates but has continued his fundraising by moving to the private gallops of local Lambourn trainers. You can donate to charity to support’s Tom’s efforts via the link here.