York racecourse believes it has measures in place for this week’s Dante meeting to prevent the scenes which created unwanted headlines at Goodwood and Ascot recently.
The Dante meeting in May is always the first of the season on the Knavesmire and while it will not be a sell-out, races such as the Dante Stakes, the Duke of York and the Musidora Stakes will ensure big crowds.
Over 50 people were involved in a brawl at Goodwood last weekend, while at Ascot on Saturday more were punches thrown and subsequently captured on social media.
“We’re obviously aware of the unsavoury incidents and we will take all the sensible precautions to take racegoers’ safety where it should be,” said James Brennan, York’s head of sponsorship and marketing.
“We do lots already with our security team, we have a Head of Safety, who has been with us a long time, but nobody can predict when people will misbehave – it can happen in high streets, in pubs, at football matches or at racecourses.
“But the general feeling is a midweek race meeting has a different feel to a Saturday. So while we are prepared and mindful of it, we’re hoping this meeting will be uneventful.
“We do have resources in place, CCTV cameras and the like, so we have an extensive plan like we do for every meeting.
“We have lots to look forward to this week, but we are mindful of the events of the last couple of Saturday and have taken steps accordingly.”
Responding to events at Ascot, the Berkshire track’s corporate and racing communications manager, Ashley Morton-Hunte, said: “Our aim, always, is to have a safe, secure and enjoyable raceday. Following recent incidents, we increased the number of response teams on site and the incident was dealt with quickly.
“Sadly, an irresponsible minority can impact on the majority. We take all anti-social behaviour seriously, and can and did eject people.”
The British Horseracing has reminded racecourses of their responsibility around alcohol policies.
It said in a statement: “The behaviour of crowds at racecourses is an important issue.
“While the vast majority of our six million racegoers each year will enjoy a pleasant and enjoyable experience, incidents such as those at the weekend cast the sport in a poor light and will cause understandable concern to those who are considering a day at the races.
“Crowd control, security and alcohol policies are currently the responsibility of the racecourse and their representative body, the Racecourse Association.
“However, the BHA has a duty to take into account all relevant facts and matters when issuing licences. We have already stated that we will be carrying out a review of all our licensing procedures later this year, which includes participant and racecourse licences.
“It is our intention to ensure that crowd control and behaviour are considered as part of this review.
“We announced after the violence at Goodwood that we would add the issue of security to our areas to examine in our licensing review later this year.
“Whilst the incident at Ascot was quickly contained and smaller in scale, it shows the issues that courses face even with good planning and security precautions.
“We have been in contact with the RCA this weekend and we know that courses will take into account the incidents as they make their security plans ahead of each meeting.
“The BHA does have the power to exclude individuals from courses and will use it where it can.”