New names among ROA's pick of best British courses
Bangor, Bath and Sedgefield have all made their first appearance on the Racehorse Owners Association's select Gold Standard list.
Now in the third year under its current guise, the scheme seeks to reward excellence in the raceday experience of owners, annually selecting 12 tracks – six large and six smaller venues – to carry the award.
Among the smaller courses, the three newcomers join Market Rasen, Musselburgh and Hamilton, all of which are Gold Standard tracks for the third time.
The six large tracks to be recognised are Ascot, Ayr, Cheltenham, Chester, Haydock and York, all of which are retained from 2016.
The dozen courses will carry the ROA's seal of approval for 12 months and will be in contention for the Racecourse of the Year in each category at the ROA Awards in London on December 7.
"The competitive nature of the Gold Standard Award was seen to greater effect than ever before this year, with the closest finishes thus far," said Alan Pickering, chair of the ROA's raceday committee.
"The decision-making process was really challenging as the vast majority of courses showed improvement, which demonstrates their recognition of the importance of owners, and keeping them in the sport."
ROA chief executive Charlie Liverton pointed to some of the additional measures taken by courses which the association's members had highlighted.
"Whilst several courses have unveiled new or refurbished facilities this year, we have seen plenty of other enhancements to the owners' raceday experience that make a real difference," said Liverton.
"These include the entertainment of placed connections, a welcome drink upon arrival, personalised racecards and swing badges, and a 'thank-you' letter post-raceday."