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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Don't allow racegoers to drink in the stands says Eve Johnson Houghton

Trainer hits out after being involved in Salisbury altercation

Eve Johnson Houghton: "There was no security to be seen"
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Since the much-publicised crowd trouble at Goodwood and Ascot on the first two Saturdays of May, tracks have implemented measures – including increased security and limits on drinks orders – to reduce risks of it happening again.

However, trainer Eve Johnson Houghton believes further steps – such as containing the consumption of alcohol within certain areas of the course – are required after she was embroiled in an incident at Salisbury on Saturday night.

She explained on Monday: “We had a bit of an altercation. There were a group of eight to ten lads, who looked like they were in their mid-20s, in the owners' and trainers' stand. They were watching football on their phones.

"I asked them which horse they were associated with. Unfortunately for them they chose the name of my horse, so I asked them if they could move out of the way so we could watch the race.

“They started effing and jeffing before moving down a bit. There was a woman in her 40s with her husband who came up to me and said thank you for doing that. She said they normally go jump racing but decided to try the Flat and that it had been awful and they weren't coming again.

The more serene and civilised atmosphere usually associated with Salisbury

“After the race the lads started effing and jeffing at me again. I was going to walk off but thought, ‘I'm not having this’, and turned to them and said, 'Do we really need to behave like this?'

“They said, ‘You think you're better than us?' I said that wasn't the case and eventually I managed to talk them into looking me in the eye and shaking my hand. I talked them down.”

Asked what she felt may help prevent such situations, she replied: “There's a good solution – don't let people take drink into the stands. Why racecourses let people take their drinks everywhere is beyond me – they can drink in the bars or on the lawns. People are allowed to drink until they're drunk and then abuse people.

"I know racecourses need to make money and encourage groups, but have those who want to drink in designated drinking areas."

The trainer added: “There was no security to be seen and there were a lot of groups swearing away and not watching the racing. I love Salisbury, it's normally a lovely country racecourse with a good atmosphere.

"It's a really sad reflection on the sport I love and that's what upsets me. I wasn't going to ring Jeremy [Martin, executive director] today as it's a bank holiday but I was planning to ring tomorrow to have a word and say I think you need a bit more security.”

The same day, two groups of racegoers were asked to leave York after an incident in the Clock Tower enclosure, although it was not on the scale of the Goodwood and Ascot incidents.

A video posted on Twitter showed several people pushing and shouting at each other, with one man aiming a kick at another. Course spokesman James Brennan reported that security arrived swiftly and dealt with the situation.

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I know racecourses need to make money and encourage groups but have those who want to drink in designated areas

Key data

Salisbury York
E.W. Terms
Sky bet