The safety and welfare of horses and jockeys is paramount throughout the year at Ascot and nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the changes made to the racing surface itself during the redevelopment (Ascot reopened in 2006).
The key elements of the project were to camber the home and old paddock bends and, crucially, to remove the road crossings over the track, replacing them with underpasses. This has created a safer racecourse for the horses, where previously some less experienced runners had occasionally shied at the differing surfaces.
Four specifically qualified equine vets (five for the major meetings including Royal Ascot), led by Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Svend Kold, are on duty every raceday at Ascot, dedicated to the welfare of all the horses. During each race, vets follow the runners by car and can respond to and attend a casualty generally within a minute – as fast as the paramedic teams responsible for human casualties.
There are two equine ambulances (three for Royal Ascot) on course at all times and three ambulances for any incidents involving injuries to jockeys.
Ascot’s two permanent veterinary boxes are supplemented with an X-Ray machine for the major meetings to assist with swi diagnosis before administration of treatment on-site or any movement necessary to equine hospitals.
The jockeys’ facilities at Ascot include a medical treatment room, rest rooms and a dedicated room for physiotherapy. During Royal Ascot, there are six doctors on site, led by Senior Racecourse Medical Officer, Dr Roger Goulds, specifically to deal with any jockey injuries.