Horse racing is aiming to broaden its appeal to 'urban audiences' and minority communities as part of a new blueprint for the sport in the UK.
The British Horseracing Authority's Diversity in Racing Steering Group (DiRSG) has published an Action Plan in response to recent academic research which suggested the sport was "out of kilter" with modern British society.
As part of a major undertaking to address diversity and inclusion, the DiRSG has recommended the sport's marketing and promotion focuses on reaching new, culturally and ethnically diverse audiences, and ensuring the next generation, particularly those in urban environments, have the opportunity to interact with horses.
As part of the plans, the BHA has also announced it will appoint a Head of Diversity and Inclusion by the end of the year.
Among the key recommendations in the DiRSG's Action Plan are:
- Researching the appeal of horse racing within minority communities to understand how the sport can be more effective in attracting diverse audiences. Also, reviewing racecourse marketing and community activity aimed at minority communities, refreshing the sport’s promotional imagery and continuing existing work to ensure that racecourse facilities are accessible to everyone.
- Investigating how to reach the next generation of racing fans, in particular those in urban environments. This includes investigating ways to ensure young people in urban locations have a chance to learn about the sport and develop understanding of the horse, building on the work of the Pony Racing Authority, Racing to School, Ebony Horse Club, Take the Reins and Changing Lives.
- Supporting and promoting opportunities for female jockeys, including work to assess whether further action needs to be taken to ensure female riders are given fair and equal opportunities compared to male counterparts.
- Launching a diversity event for stakeholders within the sport in early 2019.
Nick Rust, BHA Chief Executive and DiRSG Chair, commented: “The publication of this Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan is a moment we hope all in the sport will welcome. We have a collective responsibility to ensure the sport is as diverse and inclusive as possible, and this plan seeks to ensure we have a focused approach to making that happen in the months and years ahead.
“At a time when we need to be attracting the best talent and growing our sport there is a clear commercial, as well as moral case, for making sure British Racing is a sport where everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential and where fans of all communities feel welcome.”