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British racing has gone woke –but has anyone told the horses?

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As the countdown to one of the most important dates in the British racing calendar begins, it is reassuring to know that all those involved are receiving the best possible training. The Grand National may be a lottery, but extra schooling always helps – which is why new revelations about the British Racing Authority’s educational materials are quite the excitement. 

Top tips for not falling at the first? How to navigate Becher’s Brook? No, the sport’s governing body has been busying itself crafting “e-learning” materials to promote equality, diversity and inclusion. 

The Sport of Kings is in crisis, hammered by a shortage of jockeys (apparently most Brits are too fat); excessive regulation; and an inability to compete with the huge prize money on offer in places like Australia and Dubai. The industry still generates around £3.7 billion each year for the UK economy and supports some 85,000 jobs, but spectator numbers are dwindling and some owners are taking their most promising horses overseas. 

How marvellous, then, that the sport’s governing body has come up with a new way to ensure the long-term viability of the sport – by becoming more woke. Continuing to attract greater audiences “will require greater consideration of diverse populations,” according to the British Racing Authority, which is putting it about that “less than half’ of Generation Z “identify with being exclusively heterosexual.” 

This claim is highlighted in an online training course for British racing. Leaked to social commentator James Esses – the former teacher who exposed shocking gender ideologies promoted by the John Lewis Partnership – the “Racing2Learn” course urges participants to take decisive action against colleagues who are guilty of “behaviours which are not inclusive” – including reporting them the police. In a section on “inclusive actions,” the course highlights England footballers “taking the knee” in support of Black Lives Matter. “Racing cannot be left in the starting stalls,” the training course warns. 

OK, OK – but has anybody talked to the horses? As they prepare for the other great fixtures in the British racing calendar this year – the Derby; Royal Ascot – shouldn’t they too be told about Genderfluid Visibility Week; Drag Day; or the “International Day of Pink”? In the interests of inclusivity, it is only right that our four-legged friends are kept in the know. I don’t know how most nags identify (I wouldn’t like to assume) but having galloped my way through the course, I do know that by excluding them from the big modernisation push, they are most certainly being discriminated against here. 

Then again, BRA might learn more from observing how the equines themselves behave at big meets than from this daft online tutorial. Take any racing fixture, and you’ll find horses of all colours and genders competing as equals. Black, brown and grey; colts, fillies and geldings; they all rub along – and may the best competitor win.

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