Sat, 30 Mar 2019
A NEW report has revealed that the Lambourn horseracing industry contributes more than £22.6m a year to the local economy and is responsible for one in three jobs in the area.
Some of the country’s leading trainers, including Nicky Henderson and Grand National winner Oliver Sherwood, have yards in Lambourn.
The report, conducted by SQW and commissioned by Jockey Club Estates and West Berkshire Council, acknowledges Lambourn as the second biggest horseracing training centre in the country.
It reveals that the number of horses using Lambourn’s public gallops has risen dramatically over the past 13 years, from 367 in 2006 to around 800 in 2019.
As a result, the report, entitled ‘Horse Racing in Lambourn Valley, the industry’s social and economic impacts’ identified roads, traffic and safety of horses as ongoing challenges.
The report said that there had been a growth in housing and the number of horses using the gallops, but highlighted the fact that road capacity had not increased in that time.
It acknowledged that “although interventions such as horse crossings and horse walks have sought to compensate”, “traffic and safety remain topics of great concern to trainers”.
“There are no easy solutions which will be affordable and acceptable to all road users and there is a particular sensitivity surrounding the development of yards that remain in Lambourn village,” it adds.
“It is important that further growth in trainers’ yards is accompanied by infrastructure that helps to mitigate conflicts between motor traffic and horses.”
Another challenge facing the industry, the report stated, was suitable accommodation for staff.
The report notes: “Staff recruitment and housing are related and serious issues for Lambourn trainers.”
“Although wage rates in the industry have improved, the pattern of work required to work with racehorses is intrusive and the increase in weekend racing has reinforced the ‘antisocial’ aspects of the job.
“Lambourn is set in a highly-attractive area of countryside and this is reflected in high house prices.”
To deal with the issues, charities connected with the racing industry are contributing to develop housing for rent.
Trainers are also planning to build more accommodation for their own staff in the form of hostel accommodation and more traditional housing types.
A local almshouse charity has plans to provide housing by converting the redundant Methodist chapel adjacent to existing sites in the centre of Lambourn.
The report, which was conducted in 2018 and based on data collated for 2017, includes feedback from a number of trainers.
It was commissioned to review the contribution that horseracing makes to the Lambourn Valley.
It states that within the study area (Lambourn, East Garston and Great Shefford), horseracing is responsible for 30 per cent of the 2,500 jobs.
Currently, 34 trainers employ 529.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff who care for and exercise 1,547 horses.
The findings of the report were revealed at a conference in Lambourn on Monday.
West Berkshire Council’s planning and transport policy manager Bryan Lyttle said: “The study is not just about the importance of Lambourn, the Valley of the Racehorse, as a pivotal centre for the horseracing industry.
“Its impact and importance is far reaching, not only for Newbury’s economy and the region, but for the living and working rural environment and economy of West Berkshire’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
“We look forward to working with the Jockey Club and others to build on the industry’s success and to deliver the infrastructure that will allow it to flourish in years to come.”
Bill Wicksteed, of SQW, said: “The report confirms the progress that Lambourn’s horseracing cluster has made during recent years and the potential for its contribution to increase further.
“However, it also highlights issues that need to be addressed to ensure that its potential is realised.
“Staff housing and traffic management are major issues which can only be tackled through a partnership effort by racing, the local community and public authorities.”
Managing director of Jockey Club Estates Nick Patton said: “Lambourn’s natural attributes make it a wonderful location for training horses and since Jockey Club Estates took on the management of the public gallops we have invested heavily in the facilities.
“Our objective is to attract as many owners, trainers, and horses to Lambourn as we can and to further build on the progress made in recent years.
“Our thanks to West Berkshire Council for their support for this project which has demonstrated the value and importance of the racing industry to the village and the surrounding area.
“It is vital that the racing industry in Lambourn is protected and nurtured so that it can continue to grow and its contribution to the region can increase.”
Newbury Racecourse chief executive Julian Thick said: “This report highlights the importance and value of Lambourn and associated parties to the region.
“We are proud to have such a world-class racehorse training facility on our doorstep and more importantly, by working together the synergy between Newbury Racecourse and Lambourn increases the contribution and role of horseracing in the region.”
Jockey Club Estates is the property and land management arm of the Jockey Club Group.
It is responsible for the management and maintenance of facilities at three major racehorse training centres – Newmarket, Lambourn and Epsom.