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Diversity group: racing must work together to make everyone feel welcome

All people in racing are provided the opportunity to progress, says key industry group
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British racing has failed in its response to issues of racial inclusivity and equality, according to a key industry group, which has urged the sport to work together to "ensure everyone can maximise their potential and feel welcome".

The reaction from the Diversity in Racing Steering Group (DiRSG) came following comments made by ITV Racing presenter Rishi Persad, who highlighted what he felt was a lack of BAME (black, asian and minority ethnic) representation in senior positions in racing.

In an interview with Josh Apiafi on Sky Sports Racing, Persad, a DiRSG member, said racing was "behind the times" on issues of racial inclusivity and equality, and added that he had experienced "unpleasant and unnecessary pushback" from people within the sport when raising diversity concerns.

Persad also expressed disappointment that unlike some other sports, such as football, there had been "no gesture whatsoever from anyone in the sport" in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Rishi Persad: a member of the Diversity in Racing Steering Group

The presenter was "right to point to racing's failure" on the issue, according to the DiRSG, which said work such as the Step on Track programme, aimed at improving racing’s engagement with young BAME people, was seeking to address a lack of representation.

Susannah Gill, DiRSG chair, said: "Rishi’s willingness to share his experiences is a valuable insight for us all and we’re grateful for his openness. He is right to point to racing’s failure to collectively respond to Black Lives Matter or to address the issue of ethnicity.

"Crucially, this does not have to remain the case and we all have the power to work together to ensure everyone can maximise their potential and feel welcome in British Racing. This will take collective commitment and effort but the sport will benefit as a whole."

Persad also outlined his belief that more needs to be done to assist progression of BAME individuals through the ranks within racing, and said: “How many people [of colour] that worked in stable yards have progressed from being a member of the stable staff to being a trainer?”

Rupert Arnold, NTF chief executive, said that racing needs to continue to work to ensure barriers are not in place to prevent anyone from progressing in the industry and that discussions need to continue across the sport to ensure it is inclusive and accessible. 

Arnold added that he was confident trainers worked to promote all staff regardless of their background.

He said: "The NTF supports the industry’s overarching objective for racing to be a diverse and inclusive sport in which everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential. I'm confident trainers employ staff for their skills and ability to do the job, regardless of ethnicity. 

"I would hope trainers give all staff an equal opportunity to progress. The Lycetts Team Champion Award created by the NTF promotes diversity and in 2020 Richard Phillips and William Haggas were recognised with an excellence award in this category. 

"Trainers come from a variety of backgrounds and racing should ensure there are no barriers to people from BAME groups wishing to take that career path.”

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Rishi's willingness to share his experiences is a valuable insight for us all and we're grateful for his openness
E.W. Terms