Racing Together Industry Day 2024
Over 80 guests were challenged to think differently about racing’s interactions with its communities and parliamentarians at the Racing Together Industry Day, held at Chester racecourse on Thursday 8th February.
The encroaching blizzard conditions did nothing to stop the warm welcome given to a diverse group of 13 speakers who explored the day’s theme of ‘New routes, new solutions – why community engagement can no longer play it safe’.
Representatives from 24 individual charities, 18 racecourses and three regulatory industry bodies, including the Japan Racing Authority, attended the day. They were joined by guests from outside the sport to network and discuss the shared challenge and opportunity of this thriving and nationwide work.
John Blake, Racing Together CEO said: “We are so grateful that our ambitions for the second Racing Together Industry Day were exceeded. The quality and range of our speakers and their interaction with such a committed group of delegates from all corners of the sport, plus the wider charity and sports sectors made the day such a success.
“The event was designed to bring cutting edge work and ideas in front of our colleagues. We are tasked with supporting and showcasing how their distinct but connected year-round work is achieving results and making an impact – both for the varied beneficiary groups and also for the sport and its future. No one was in any doubt that this work is the bedrock of all other strategies that racing may deliver.”
Keynote speaker Conor McGinn MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Racing and Bloodstock outlined what racing could look like under a Labour government, as well as the much reported threats to the industry of affordability checks. The St Helens North representative is a powerful advocate for the sport’s history and its important place in modern society.
The CEO of Chester Race Company Ltd., Louise Stewart detailed the work done by the world’s oldest racecourse to connect in positive ways with the town across their various business ventures, through the Chester Loves Racegoers campaign.
It was only fitting that after a break for tea that the world of cricket took centre stage, with Ian Gregory of Chance to Shine captivating the room with how this charity has found non-traditional routes to support communities through cricket. Richard Hammill, Chief Operating Officer at Pontefract, then closed the morning session explaining the painstaking work that was done to deliver on the racecourse’s pledge to deliver a fully accessible ‘Racing for Everyone’ fixture, with remarkable results for the new racegoers and the business.
Chester provided delicious refreshments and baked goods through the fantastic Horseradish catering team, and the warming lunch came along as the first smattering of snow started to fall. Taking discussions forward was The Jockey Club duo of Tom Baker and Grant Rowley, joined by Sophie Chambers, from the kind sponsors of the event, Gallagher Insurance. Creating new opportunities for groups of young people to have a first contact with horses and the sport underpins their collaboration. The potential for a corporate sponsorship partnership to help racing within the community space was a case very well made.
The final part of the programme brought on stage an expert panel, chaired by Racing to Relate’s Jennifer Barker, and comprising RMF Group’s Dara McCarthy; Managing Director of Retraining of Racehorses David Catlow; Sported’s CEO Sarah Kaye and our Racing Together’s Community Engagement Manager, Alex Shaw. A fascinating discussion ensued around the role of and potential for former racehorses in community, education and therapeutic settings, and how so many shared welfare and community objectives might be achieved through investment in this work.