Firstly, we do hope you are keeping safe and well in these difficult times. 


As an update and you may have seen, the British Horseracing Authority has confirmed that there will be no horseracing in front of a crowd until at least 1 July meaning that our seven racedays for May and June have been cancelled in their planned form.  We will continue to be guided by BHA as to our racedays after this date and will keep our website updated with the latest information.


When we were last in contact, we were seeking advice as to the position of the raceday team with regards to the Government’s furlough scheme. We now have the national guidance based on advice given to the Racecourse Association by their Employment Lawyers on whether or not the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applies to Casual Workers.


Consistent with this advice, we are sorry to say that we have, very reluctantly, decided that in the particular circumstances under which you are engaged and the work we have to offer are such that, we are not going to offer to place any Raceday Team Members on ‘Furlough’ leave.  Many of you have communicated to us that you would not expect to be furloughed but we acknowledge it may come as a disappointment to others.


If we were to furlough Raceday Team Members, the advice concludes there is a significant risk that HMRC could decline to reimburse York Racecourse for having paid 80% of your pay calculated in accordance with the scheme. At a time when there is no income to the organisation, I hope you appreciate this is a risk we simply cannot take, for the sake of the long-term well-being of York Racecourse.


The position of other racecourses may be different. There is clearly a difference between a Group of racecourses who employ raceday team members who work a considerable number of days spread over several racecourses and at fairly regular intervals, and our situation where we only have a maximum of 18 days of work to offer spread over six consecutive months with six months without any work to offer.


As stated in previous communications to you when viewed in a formal legal context, as HMRC might well do, “there is no obligation on either party to provide or attend work”.  The terms of your engagement are that you are only engaged for a season or those days within a season which you advise us you would be available to work.  That season ends at our last meeting and you are not re-engaged until the first meeting in the next year, and this is on an ‘engagement’ by ‘engagement’ basis with no wage paid if racing is abandoned in advance.    


We are very sorry that we have had to come to this conclusion. We do hope that you understand that we must be guided by professional advice and must concentrate on ensuring that we have a thriving business that is ready to resume racing and so offer work to you as soon as we can.


Yours faithfully





Chris Ward                                                                   Rachel Crabtree
Head of Finance                                                            Operations Executive (currently on furlough)                       


If you need assistance, as someone who works in the racing industry, Racing Welfare may be able to help. They can be contacted on

Tel – 0800 6300 443




Following the move to an increased lockdown of the UK and in light of the ongoing suspension of racing, we have continued to review our business operations.  As you will appreciate, York Racecourse is following Government advice and operations and events have been shut down in this national emergency.  As a result of the suspension of racing in front of crowds by the British Horseracing Authority until at least 31 May 2020, the Dante Festival and raceday planned for Saturday 30 May 2020 have been cancelled.  As a result we have no work for raceday staff at York Racecourse during May.

You may have heard the announcement on 20 March 2020 by the Government of its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the “Scheme”).  York Racecourse intends to explore whether we can obtain financial support for our raceday staff, so far as the Scheme allows and so long as this is administratively feasible.

The Racecourse Association has been providing racecourses with advice from its lawyers and they have said that ‘casual staff’ may be covered by the Scheme. The procedure is that York Racecourse has to decide to ‘furlough’ a particular person and that person has to consent to be ‘furloughed’.  If they consent, the government will reimburse 80% of their ‘wage’ which would be calculated as the higher of either:-

-        The same earnings in the same month last year or

-        The average monthly earnings for the 2019 / 2020 tax year.

We are aware that some racecourses are in the process of ‘furloughing’ some, or all, of their casual staff.  However, we do not consider that we currently have sufficient information to enable us to make a decision on whether ‘furloughing’ casual workers is the right course to take. Our concerns are:-

  1. The scheme is still being developed by the Government and there are a number of unknowns.
  2. We are awaiting further advice from the RCA lawyers on how the scheme will work where casual workers are known to have other jobs.
  3. If a casual worker is ‘furloughed’ they cannot do any work for the employer who has ‘furloughed’ them for a minimum of three weeks. The scheme appears to treat each casual job separately, but there is a cap on the amount the government will pay and it is not clear what the government will do if an individual is in receipt of more than the cap from all the jobs that they do.
  4. Rachel Crabtree and Emily Howcroft deal with job allocations and casual staff wages and are both themselves ‘furloughed’ and so we would need time to work out how to identify the casual workers we needed to ‘furlough’ and what their wage would be if we applied the Scheme.

We wish to emphasise that we highly value what you do for us and we wish to help you as much as we can, but we do need to be clear what the effect of designating any of you as a ‘furloughed worker’ will have on York Racecourse and on you.  In particular, we must be certain that whatever we pay you we can recover from the Government.

Our first racing was scheduled to take place on 13 May 2020, and any amount payable in relation to this day and any others in May would ordinarily be made in the middle of June.  If we do take the decision to furlough some or all of our raceday staff then we would expect to take that decision around the end of April or beginning of May and we hope to have much more information to make an informed decision on what to do in the coming weeks.

If you need assistance, as someone who works in the racing industry, Racing Welfare may be able to help. They can be contacted at:

Tel – 0800 6300 443

If you wish to discuss any aspect of this letter or have any queries, please send an email to and we will endeavour to answer your queries.

As soon as we have more information, we will let you know via this weblink (  Thank you for your support and with very best wishes to you and your family.


2021 Season at a glance

  • Dante Festival | Wed 12 - Fri 14 May
  • First Saturday | Sat 22 May
  • June Meeting | Fri 11 - Sat 12 June
  • John Smith's Cup Meeting | Fri 9 - Sat 10 July
  • Music Showcase Weekend | Fri 23 - Sat 24 July
  • Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival | Wed 18 - Sat 21 August
  • September Sunday | Sun 5 September
  • September Friday | Fri 24 September
  • October Finale | Fri 8 - Sat 9 October