Unauthorised drones causing problems during race meetings
Images from drones could be being used to give in-running punters an unfair advantage
Streamed pictures from drones at race meetings may be a few seconds ahead of TV channels. Photograph: Mark Evans/Getty Images
Racecourse officials admit there is “limited further action” that can be taken to combat the use of unauthorised drones during race meetings.
Reports suggest images from drones could be being used to give in-running punters an unfair advantage on betting exchanges as the streamed pictures may be a few seconds ahead of TV channels.
The Racecourse Association works on behalf of all 59 British tracks and it has already begun to address the subject, but says the issue is not easy to resolve.
Caroline Davies, RCA racecourse services director, said in a statement: “The RCA takes a proactive lead providing guidance to racecourses around drone usage.
“This involves best practice from the Civil Aviation Authority and other relevant authorities as well as taking into account how other venues have handled similar situations.
“Given the recent emphasis on drone safety, racecourses are revisiting their risk assessments. The safety and enjoyment of all racegoers is of the utmost priority.
“In addition, racecourses work alongside the emergency services and security providers should any issues be encountered with unwanted drones.
“Whilst frustrating, if the operator is not breaking the law there is limited further action that can be taken at this time.”
If pictures from drones were sold, the sellers would also be contravening the rights deals the TV companies have with the tracks.
A spokesman for Racecourse Media Group, which currently represents 37 tracks, said: “The RCA has taken the lead in dealing with the Civil Aviation Authority regarding drone flights near racecourses and, as media rights holders, RMG are working with the RCA on this.”
The British Horseracing Authority does permit use of drones on the racecourse, subject to operators abiding by a set of guidelines focused on protecting the safety of all participants.
The BHA’s head of media Robin Mounsey said: “Responsibility for preventing unauthorised intrusion by drones above a racecourse sits with the racecourses themselves.
“If required or appropriate, racecourses might wish to call on the support of local law enforcement to deal with an issue around unregulated drones.
“The BHA stewards would become involved if they are asked by the racecourse executive to either delay, or abandon a race or races because drones were on site and causing a risk to horses, participants or the general public.”