Autism in Racing: Overview
With thanks to funding from the Racing Foundation, Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, HWPA and other supporters, Autism in Racing seeks to raise awareness of autism, educate racing’s workforce and customers about autism and has hosted over 30 autism-friendly racedays at British racecourses since 2021.
Autism in Racing is a further example of the sport’s desire to promote equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels.
If you’d like to find out more, or host a raceday, you can contact us by email here.
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. The infographic below shows the output from phase two (May 2022-2023).
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 was 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.
A first Autism Awareness Workshop
This fun, interactive workshop took place in January 2023 at Oaksey House in Lambourn, welcoming a diverse range of people from the racing community including trainers, racing staff, racecourse teams and more. Our aim was to raise autism awareness, and communicate how it may affect a colleague, friend or family member.
- Understand what autism is and how it may affect colleagues and employees
- Be better equipped to recognise signs and support colleagues
- Know where to seek help and guidance
Working alongside expert third party Immersive, autism-friendly mobile sensory spaces were piloted at four British racecourses in 2021, welcoming families with autistic children to enjoy a day’s racing with the safe, sensory stimulus. Subject to the success of the pilot, further mobile sensory spaces were available for more racecourses in 2022, totalling 22 racedays and over 300 beneficiaries.
The first pilot event took place successfully at Doncaster on 5 August 2021; hear from Tim about his family’s experience here.
If you’d like to host an Autism in Racing event at your racecourse, you can contact us here.
First sensory rooms at racecourses
An increasing number of racecourses have installed their own sensory rooms to welcome schools, families and community groups to visit year-round. So far, both Aintree and Cheltenham have installed their own sensory rooms – each manages and runs the rooms via their in-house teams.
You can contact the racecourses directly to find out more information, and bear in mind that during large racing festivals it is unlikely that the sensory rooms will be available.
News, Quotes & Testimonials
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 here to receive details, dates and an application form.
Autism in Racing Support Hub
This page 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, all host racecourses, Immersive Interactive, Carly Jones MBE and many more.