BHA issues suspension on drones at UK racecourses

11 July 2016

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has suspended the use of drones at racecourses in the UK, following an incident involving veteran jockey Frankie Dettori at Newmarket.

Last week, Dettori was unseated from Oh So Terrible prior to the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes, with the horse subsequently getting loose and being withdrawn from the race.

According to various reports, Dettori said he heard a drone hovering nearby at the time Oh So Terrible reared up, while Ryan Moore, who rode ‘Believeable’ in the race, also said the sound of the drone was “very noticeable”.

In response, RaceTech, which was piloting the drone for the purpose of overhead shots, said that it had adhered to guidelines set by the BHA and it had not broken rules.

However, BHA spokesperson Robin Mounsey said drones will not be permitted at UK racecourses until further notice, with the organisation set to carry out a series of risk assessments.

“While the testing procedures for the introduction of drones have been rigorous, and have received National Trainers Federation and Professional Jockeys Association sign off, it is still relatively new technology and we must show caution with its use if issues have been raised,” Mounsey said.

“As such, we have made the decision to suspend using the drone on all British racecourses until the incident has been properly assessed. Welfare of horse and rider must always come first.

“The RaceTech drone has been used regularly over the past 14 months. Before it can be used a signed agreement is reached between the BHA and RaceTech which includes a risk assessment, site assessment and flight plan.

“The requirements for the drone are that it must fly at a minimum height of 30 metres and 30 metres away from the track laterally, then to follow the field from the side and behind the horses, and not directly over the track.”

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