Doctor, Doctor: At The Races  Is there a doctor in the house?

No, he’s at Fakenham racecourse doing his job on a cold, winter’s day.

You may have been to a racecourse meeting, watching the horses walk around the paddock, owners and trainers chatting with excitement about the race to come, and mingled in the crowd is someone with a medical bag, observing all and sundry, especially the jockeys.

You notice someone with an armband which details Doctor!

It’s no surprise to find a doctor is an important part of proceedings, in fact the meeting wouldn’t even go ahead if the medical provisions weren’t in place.

In fact, it is a legal requirement for at least one ambulance, doctor and vet to be on course at all times in case there is an injury to jockey or spectator. As a business, it would be a requirement to cover public liability with health and safety measures.

But what is the role of a doctor at the racecourse?

The doctor oversees the medical facilities ensuring the racecourse is properly equipped so staff can handle injuries and emergencies. These must comply with racing regulation set out by the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA) and other relevant bodies.

It is important that lines of communication are clear with racing officials, trainers, jockeys and stakeholders to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved.

The major roles of the doctor include:

  • Emergency response to administer immediate first aid and stabilise injured individuals and make decision whether to transport an injured person to hospital.

  • Pre-race assessment of jockeys to ensure they are fit to ride and check injuries or illness that could affect their safety.

  • The doctor may be involved in the collection of blood or urine samples regarding drug testing (also alcohol) to ensure participants adhere to the rules and regulations of the sport.

  • If injuries occur concussion protocols are in place to determine if a jockey is fit to continue racing.

  • In addition, the doctor may need attend injuries or illness of spectators.

  • The doctor has to liaise with other medical professionals such as paramedics, nurses to provide comprehensive medical care and swift response to emergencies.

The role of the doctor at British horse racing fixtures is crucial for the safety of everyone whether jockey or member of the public. They often go unnoticed but play an important role in the health and safety, ready to respond instantly and with professionalism.