The summary findings and recommendations from an independent assessment of environmental sustainability across British racing and breeding have been published today.

Project objectives:

  • To review British racing’s current progress on environmental sustainability, building an understanding of current and planned activities
  • Identify the main sustainability issues, risks, and opportunities for British racing, including potential scenarios and timeframes
  • Present an initial assessment of where issues might remain the responsibility of individual organisations / businesses, or where collective action may be necessary
  • Make a series of recommendations about what steps racing could take to start embedding environmental sustainability in its overarching industry and individual business strategies.

The report, which can be read here, was commissioned by British racing’s Executive Committee and funded by the Racing Foundation to help support and inform the industry’s long-term planning.

Produced by independent environmental consultancy, White Griffin, it recommends that British racing takes a ‘co-ordinated, industry-wide approach’ to mitigating the risks and realising the opportunities related to climate change and sustainability.

“Sustainability is a significant topic for British racing, as it is for all major industries. I am pleased to see this initial report cover the challenges we face if no action is taken, whilst highlighting some of the best practice already embedded within the sport” commented David Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association who believes environmental sustainability is a key part of British racing’s strategy for growth.

Several key themes are covered, all of which present challenges for the sport. These range from carbon emissions, water availability, the impact of extreme weather, and waste disposal, to commercial partnerships, supply chain management and changing consumer expectations.

But the report also recognises the potential for British racing to show leadership and innovation in tackling these issues – adapting operations where possible and finding effective solutions.

It outlines some of the activity already taking place across the industry – from management of key resources like water, to reducing carbon emissions and promoting healthy ecosystems – and highlights assets that can help accelerate these efforts, including access to extensive green space and existing land management capability.

The report offers a series of proposed next steps aligned to the specific environmental issues covered, together with more general overarching recommendations on how the industry should take a ‘planned and strategic’ approach to addressing racing’s collective challenges.

These findings, together with more comprehensive analysis of the specific risks, will now be considered by industry leaders as part of the work announced earlier this month to develop a cross-industry strategy and long-term priorities for British racing.

Brant Dunshea, BHA Chief Regulatory Officer and Project Executive Sponsor, said racing and breeding have a close relationship with the environment, and are particularly susceptible to the effects of a changing climate. “This research gives us a much better understanding of the key challenges we face, and provides a useful starting point for industry leaders to think about how environmental considerations are factored into British racing’s strategic planning.

“I’m grateful to White Griffin for their work on this project, and to everyone – racecourses, owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys and so many others – who contributed to the research. The findings and recommendations give us a sound basis for determining our long-term priorities and securing a sustainable future for our horses, people and businesses.”

Chief Executive of the Racing Foundation Rob Hezel said it has become essential for the industry and its leaders to understand and face up to the sustainability issues, risks and opportunities presented. “British Racing is well placed to tackle the climate crisis, to mitigate the risks it faces and to mobilise its stakeholders, supporters and communities to take action. We must look beyond our sport to our wider role in society; be brave and tackle the issues in a strategic and co-ordinated way” said Hezel.

Claire Sheppard, Chief Executive of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, said: “The findings of this report are vital in understanding the long-term viability of our industry and the environment in which it can sustainably operate. It presents the main challenges and opportunities arising from the first nationwide audit of the sport, and builds on the TBA’s own award-winning environmental impact assessment of two sample stud farms.

“The Thoroughbred Group is looking forward to working with our colleagues from across British racing and breeding to improve the environmental impact of our sport and would welcome the development and implementation of an industry strategic plan.”

The report can be read here.