Plans have been announced by the British Horseracing Authority to improve and modernise weighing-room facilities across all British racecourses.
A delegation of jockeys, racecourses and the BHA have been working since March to agree a programme of objectives aimed at meeting the current and future needs of jockeys of all ages and genders.
Weighing rooms and changing-room areas will now be reconfigured in line with the new standards, while some of the upgrades are immediate priorities such as the introduction of key safeguarding measures to provide private changing and shower facilities for jockeys, particularly for under-18s.
The safeguarding changes will be implemented by February 2022, and all racecourse saunas will be permanently closed or removed. Saunas have been out of action since the resumption of racing in June 2020 following the introduction of Covid protocols.
Other adaptations such as private changing and shower facilities, a shared communal rest room, a new communal working space for valets and flexibility to adapt changing room sizes will all be in place by October 2024.
Discussions are also taking place with trainer and jockey representatives about future weight structures. Since the pandemic jockeys have been able to take advantage of additional weight allowances.
BHA chief operating officer Richard Wayman said: “These agreed upgrades are the product of cross-industry collaboration, with jockeys, racecourses and the BHA working together since the beginning of this year.
“The recommendations, which have been endorsed by industry leaders, will deliver substantive improvements to meet the evolving requirements of a modern weighing-room environment, catering not just for today’s human athletes, but also future proofing for the next generation.”
PJA executive director (racing) Dale Gibson said: “Having consulted with our members, the PJA supports the permanent closure of saunas. Eighty-eight per cent of the 190 jockeys who responded to our recent survey voted for their removal, with just eight per cent wanting them to remain.
“The Covid Weight Allowance structure is currently being debated amongst industry representatives, with no immediate changes agreed it is vital that it remains in some shape or form.”
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