Drone: will be back in British racing but with amendments
PICTURE: RP GRAPHICS
By Peter Scargill 12:30PM 30 SEP 2016
TELEVISION viewers will get the chance to watch overhead action from drones once again after the BHA approved their use following a prolonged consultation.
Drones were grounded after Frankie Dettori was unseated before a juvenile fillies’ maiden at Newmarket in July with the rider, and fellow jockey Ryan Moore, both saying the noise from the drone was audible and spooked the young horses.
Dettori said at the time: “The noise it made was like a swarm of bees but the thing to stress is this was an accident.
“Nine times out of ten it wouldn’t have been a problem but my filly was running for the first time and was wearing blinkers. She heard the noise and couldn’t see anything, so she was spooked.”
Following a BHA consultation with the Racecourse Association (RCA), Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) and National Trainers Federation (NTF) drones will return, albeit with amendments to the previous rules.
No drones will be used for two-year-old or maiden races, while at the start the drone must be flown at no lower than 50 metres above the ground. When the race is in action that distance drops to 30m. Additionally a ‘spotter’ must be provided by any drone operator to stay in contact with the starter.
Brant Dunshea, head of raceday operations for the BHA, said: “Having reviewed the guidelines for the use of drones in collaboration with stakeholders, we have made appropriate amendments to the operating guidelines to ensure that drones can once again be used in a safe and controlled manner on racecourses.
“The new operating guidelines reflect feedback received from the RCA, PJA and the NTF and highlight the importance of protecting the welfare of our participants, equine and human.”
Reacting to the announcement, Rod Street, head of Great British Racing, wrote on Twitter: “Good news because [drones are a] terrific broadcast innovation. Offer some amazing footage.”