Autism in Racing: Overview
With thanks to funding from the Racing Foundation and Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, Autism in Racing seeks to raise awareness of autism, educate racing’s workforce and customers about autism and piloted autism-friendly sensory spaces on racecourses during 2021. Read more about the evaluation of the pilot year here.
Autism in Racing is a further example of the sport’s desire to promote equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels.
Who is involved?
The initiative was founded by horseracing broadcaster and commentator Bobby Beevers whose personal experience with autism led him to question how the power of horseracing could be utilised to raise awareness and ultimately support anybody with autism.
Under the banner of Racing Together, the sport’s community engagement collective, a collaborative support group was assembled to create and implement various roles to support Autism in Racing. The group is represented by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Racecourse Association (RCA), Diversity in Racing Steering Group (DiRSG), members of the racing media and includes cross-sport expertise from Arsenal Football Club, a recognised leader in this field within the football community.
The eLearning module, housed within the sport’s Racing2Learn platform, was created to grow autism awareness. The module was written in collaboration with the Autism Education Trust who have endorsed the content. A certificate of achievement is available to all who complete the course successfully. The resource is available to all who work or are interested in the sport.
Autism in Racing sits within the Racing Together website which is used to share further educational content or news relating to the initiative. The @AutisminRacing Twitter account provides live updates from the initiative.
Working alongside expert third party Immersive, autism-friendly mobile sensory spaces were piloted at four British racecourses. Doncaster, Haydock Park, Musselburgh and Aintree hosted a total of seven events on selected racedays, welcoming families with autistic children to enjoy a day’s racing with the safe, sensory stimulus provided by Immersive. Subject to the learnings of the pilot, it is envisaged further mobile sensory spaces will be available for more racecourses in 2022.
The first pilot event took place successfully at Doncaster on 5 August; hear from Tim about his family’s experience here.
Quotes & Testimonials
Autism in Racing founder Bobby Beevers commented: “I honestly believe that this is one of the most exciting and unique projects our sport has seen. Horseracing is both diverse in its make-up and inclusive in the way we operate, and this initiative signals that we welcome everyone to join us.
“Since I approached BHA Chair Annamarie Phelps in March 2020, it is brilliant how far we have come and how the industry has rallied round to support the cause. I look forward to progressing with Autism in Racing and seeing it develop.”
BHA Chair and Autism in Racing group member Annamarie Phelps commented “I am delighted that, with this pilot programme in place, racing will be able to welcome families and individuals with autism to enjoy a day out at the races in a safe and supportive environment. It is our ambition to be a sport that is open and welcoming to everyone regardless of their background and any differences they may have.
“The mobile sensory room and the impact of the educational module will help open up racing to a new cohort of fans and extend our community. Enormous thanks are due to Bobby for his vision and hard work bringing together expertise and enthusiasm to make this possible. Special thanks to the Racing Foundation, Racecourse Association, and Racing Together and to the steering group.”
Emma Chantler, Programme and Content Manager at the Autism Education Trust commented “At the heart of the Autism Education Trust is the belief that good outcomes can only be achieved by working in partnership and it’s great to see the Autism in Racing initiative is opening conversations and spreading awareness about autism across the sport.
“By doing so they are helping our mission to create culture change in mainstream society by educating people about autism.”
Find out more about Autism-friendly racedays
Get in touch with Autism in Racing at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive details, dates and an application form.
Autism in Racing Support Hub
This page has content curated by the Autism in Racing team which is intended to signpost you to services and information available to you.
Partners and supporters
Autism in Racing is grateful to the following individuals/ organisations for their support to-date: the Racing Foundation, the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Trust, the RCA, the BHA, Arsenal FC, Watford FC, the Shippey Campaign, Autism Education Trust, National Autistic Society, the Jockey Club, Ascot Racecourse, Arena Racing Company, Chester Racecourse Company, Haydock Park Racecourse, Aintree Racecourse, Musselburgh Racecourse, Doncaster Racecourse, Immersive Interactive, Carly Jones MBE and many more.