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Plumpton promises improvements as stable staff survey rates Britain's courses

Plumpton came out worst in a survey of stable staff
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Plumpton's management has said it is committed to improving conditions for stable staff after the track finished bottom of a new survey compiled by the National Association of Racing Staff (NARS).

Ascot topped the Racecourse Ratings 2018 survey and was one of six tracks given a five-star rating, along with Chelmsford, Newton Abbot, Perth, Chester and Wincanton.

NARS chief executive George McGrath said the report was inspired by feedback given by staff wanting a direct say in facilities they encountered when working at the races.

A team of seven members of stable staff was recruited as inspectors who visited every British racecourse twice during 2018, examining the quality of the canteen, the daytime amenities, overnight accommodation and stable yard facilities.

Those four categories were divided into 12 headings marked out of ten to give a maximum of 120 points available. Ascot scored 107.65 points.

Star ratings were given, with any course scoring less than 70 points receiving one star. Seven tracks – Bangor, Huntingdon, Cartmel, Fontwell, Chepstow, Stratford and Plumpton – fell into that category.

Plumpton, which collected just 41 points, scored particularly badly in terms of overnight accommodation and chief executive Dan Thompson acknowledged it was an issue that needed to be addressed.

He said of the survey results: "We're very disappointed to see this. We're aware we're not the best and there are plans to make it better for 2019-20.

"The board and I have drawn up a five-year capital plan, and facilities for stable staff are very much part of it. We're committed to improving.

"I don't want to accept we're bottom, but I can appreciate we were not going to be near the top."

NARS chief executive George McGrath

In the conclusion to the report McGrath said he recognised some courses would not be happy with the rating they received but that the objective of the exercise "was not to berate or embarrass any individual racecourse or organisation" and that NARS wanted to work with clerks of the course.

He told the Racing Post: "Off the top of my head I don't think I can identify any single clerk of the course who hasn't been welcoming.

"The issue is generally a lot of the improvements we need would be capital expenditures and that's very hard for them to get past their board."

McGrath said he hoped that one result of the survey would be that there are no one-star ratings next year.

He added: "That's an incentive, I just don't think it should be happening.

"This is the beginning of a new movement with a much more progressive trade union behind it working in collaboration with racecourses and clerks of the course."

Ascot's corporate and racing communications manager Ashley Morton-Hunte said the course was delighted to hear they had scored so highly.

She added: "Racing staff are incredibly important to the industry and we're always looking at ways in which we can continue to improve and evolve our facilities for them."

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The board and I have drawn up a five-year capital plan and facilities for stable staff are very much part of it. We are committed to improving

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