BHA suspends drones ‘indefinitely’ following Dettori Newmarket incident

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Following an incident which saw legendary jockey Frankie Dettori dislodged from his racehorse at Newmarket, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has moved to ‘indefinitely’ suspend all types of drones being used in UK racetracks.

Dettori who was riding ‘Oh So Terrible’, stated that the horse had been spooked by the noise made by a camera drone flying nearby which caused the filly to react nervously unseating the champion jockey. Dettori’s comments regarding the incident were supported by other riders and race officials.

The camera drone which was being used to provide overhead shots of Newmarket, had been operated by racing broadcast specialists RaceTech. The firm states that drone had been operated  within BHA guidelines.

BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey commented on the matter  “The concerns raised at Newmarket clearly needed to be taken seriously.

“While the testing procedures for the introduction of drones have been rigorous, and have received NTF and PJA sign off, it is still relatively new technology and we must show caution with its use if issues have been raised.

“As such we have made the decision to suspend using the drone on all British racecourses until the incident has been properly assessed. Welfare of horse and rider must always come first.”

The RaceTech drone has been used regularly over the past 14 months. Before it can be used a signed agreement is reached between the BHA and RaceTech which includes a risk assessment, site assessment and flight plan.

“The requirements for the drone are that is must fly at a minimum height of 30 metres and 30 metres away from the track laterally, then to follow the field from the side and behind the horses and not directly over the track.”

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