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Rishi Persad intervention leads to racing leaders making pledge on diversity

Rishi Persad attended this week's BHA board meeting
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The leaders of British racing's participants and racecourses have joined the BHA in responding to Rishi Persad's powerful assessment of the sport's racial diversity problems by issuing a united pledge to tackle discrimination and accelerate efforts to make racing more open and inclusive to all.

Persad was invited to attend Wednesday's BHA board meeting, at which he expanded on comments made in a Sky Sports Racing interview that triggered a disturbing reaction on social media and negativity from a number of figures who work in the sport.

Speaking to Sky, Persad described racing as "behind the times" on racial diversity and revealed the launch of the Diversity in Racing Steering Group had triggered a pushback that was "unpleasant and unnecessary".

The BHA board, which itself reflects the sport's different stakeholder groups, condemned the hostility shown to Persad and stressed the sport needs, "an open, progressive and respectful debate about diversity, for both moral reasons and in the interests of the long term health of the industry".

That was backed up by a statement issued by the BHA, Racecourse Association and Horsemen's Group, that said: "Racing prides itself on the welcome it gives to all. We want to engage fans from all communities and we want talented people, whatever their background, to be able to succeed in our sport.

"However, our industry’s leaders acknowledge that pockets of discrimination exist in all areas of society, and our sport is no different. All are agreed that this has no place in our industry and that the sport must unite in standing against discrimination of any kind in racing. We can, and will, do better on this front.

"We pride ourselves on the respect we show for our horses and for the sport’s rules and traditions. We are a sport which has embraced diversity in many ways, including people of all genders competing on equal terms. We must welcome constructive debate on any issue, but we expect all those in our sport to show respect to each other when competing and when discussing our sport and its future."

In a further example of collaboration, the BHA revealed that at a recent meeting of the industry's members' committee it was agreed the sport's leadership organisations would progress proposals put forward by the DIRSG to publish "a unified commitment and a plan to improve diversity and inclusion".

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We want to engage fans from all communities and we want talented people, whatever their background, to be able to succeed in our sport
E.W. Terms