Chester and Bangor-on-Dee Racecourses have been named as the best in Britain for racehorse owners, with Bangor-on-Dee being awarded Small Racecourse of the Year.
The awards were made on Thursday evening at the 37th annual Horseracing Awards of the Racehorse Owners Association, sponsored by Zeus Capital, at London’s InterContinental Hotel.
The two venues, which come under the same independent ownership of Chester Race Company, were among 15 of the country’s racecourses awarded Gold Standard status during the autumn.
The ROA also identified those racecourses which have made the greatest efforts without quite reaching Gold Standard status yet. ‘Most Improved Large Racecourse’ was Newbury and the ‘Most Improved Small Racecourse’ was Wetherby.
Chester and Bangor-on-Dee both led their respective categories with the ROA member feedback scores as well as impressing the ROA Raceday Committee with their forward-thinking approach.
Both racecourses include all of their fixtures in the ROA member benefit, the Racecourse Badge Scheme for Owners; each has owners’ facilities that have received significant investment in recent years; and owners with a runner are offered a substantial complimentary meal along with half a bottle of wine per person. Chester is also due to unveil a new owners’ entrance in 2019.
Alan Pickering, Chairman of the ROA Raceday Committee, said: “For our sport to retain its premier position, racing needs to attract and retain owners who reflect the diversity of our population. Reliance on a few wealthy individuals – welcome though they are – from home and abroad is no longer enough. We want salt of the earth Britons from across the spectrum to jump up and down chanting “we won the Derby” or “we won the Grand National”. To attract such people to racing, the quality of the race-day experience is all powerful.
“Those racecourses which succeed in obtaining the ROA Gold Standard accolade acknowledge the importance of making owners feel special. Chester and Bangor are not only Gold Standard recipients, they have proved to be ‘best of the best’ in their respective categories. Many owners have suggested that the staff responsible for the owners’ experience at these two tracks should run tutorials for their peers across the country. I could not put it better myself.”
Head of Racing at Chester Race Company, Andrew Morris, said: "We were delighted to win both the Large and Small Racecourses of the Year last night. We are committed to ensuring the Owners’ experiences at both tracks are the best they can possibly be and not wishing to stand still, we already have plans in motion to introduce new initiatives and facilities for 2019, which we look forward to unveiling soon.
"Many congratulations to all the racecourses shortlisted, providing owners with an experience that fits their crucial and integral contribution to our industry is a must to ensure the continued success of our industry."
In addition to the winning racecourses, the finalists were: Large Racecourses - Ascot; Ayr; Cheltenham; Haydock Park; and York; Small Racecourses – Carlisle; Fakenham; Hamilton Park; Market Rasen; Musselburgh; Perth; Sedgefield; and Uttoxeter.
As part of the ROA Gold Standard Award process, association representatives visited every racecourse in Britain at least once between January and October to assess all aspects of the owners’ race-day experience. In addition, feedback was provided by hundreds of ROA members following their own racecourse visits.