As if we needed reminding… shifting sands are an occupational hazard beyond just politics. Cue incoming interim BHA Chair Atholl Duncan who is well placed and well informed to lend his support to the positive impact that racing delivers year-round for its people and the wider community.
Greater than the sum of its parts
Racing has always had a powerful sense of community, which is at the heart of what we do. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of the people who play such a positive role in our community, such as Lisa Hancock at the Injured Jockey’s Fund; Di Arbuthnot at Retraining of Racehorses and Dawn Goodfellow at Racing Welfare to name just a few.
Racing is like a jigsaw. We need many parts to fit together to complete the picture. When we do that, we see a strong, vibrant, caring community which delivers economic and social benefit and creates a stronger society.
Racecourses tackling real issues
Take Uttoxeter Racecourse’s initiative which won the RCA Showcase Community Award. It saw 500 men attend the racecourse for prostate cancer screening. Fifteen percent got red flags which could be lifesavers.
Others nominated included Beverley Racecourse’s initiative for the elderly; Ascot’s work with their local community; and Warwick’s initiative to help local businesses.
At my local course, Musselburgh, Armed Forces Day is a shining example of community engagement as is the work they do to help the homeless.
At the heart of many communities
Every trainer’s yard in the land contributes positively to building local community …through employing local people; using the services of local businesses and giving back in generous and philanthropic ways. In addition all of our 60 racecourses, which are spread across the length and breadth of the nation, act as so much more than just sporting venues – they are regional hubs for community events and local businesses, and play a crucial part in the rural economy. Without racing rural communities would be catastrophically poorer.
Reasonable people cannot fail to be impressed
When we tell the real stories of the racing community, reasonable people cannot fail to be impressed by the positive impact that our sport delivers in nearly every community across the land. This is why the work of Racing Together is so important – their role is to highlight all of the work the sport is able to facilitate for the benefit of local communities. As a sport we need to tell our stories better, and Racing Together are crucial if we are to do this.
Then there’s Ian Barlow’s work as Chair of The Racing Foundation, supporting the work of charities in the areas of social welfare, training & education, racehorse welfare, equine science research and heritage & culture. There are countless others also doing great work before we even consider the fundraising efforts of the many individual supporters of charities.
Why does this matter? Firstly, it matters because building community is the right thing to do. The old‐fashioned notion of Corporate Social Responsibility as some nice add-on is dead. Building community is core and centre of a responsible society.
It also matters because we have a fight on our hands to persuade a growing section of the public of the true worth of horseracing.
We all know that horseracing is a force for incredible good. One of my jobs as BHA Chair will be to promote that everywhere I go. I look forward to working with everyone in the sport to spread the word about the great work that you do.