Arena Racing Company and Skyview Systems: Winning hands down

Horseracing has always been a much-loved pastime in the UK, and is the second most watched sport – second only to football. As the horse racing industry continues to thrive, the health and safety of customers and jockeys and horses alike, remains a number one priority.

When Arena Racing Company contacted Skyview Systems to install weather monitoring system at their Doncaster, Hereford, Southwell and Worcester Racecourse sites we couldn’t wait to jump in the saddle!

Arena Racing Company

Arena Racing Company is the largest racecourse group in the UK, welcoming over 2 million customers through their gates every year.

Arena operates 16 racecourses, consisting of a mix of flat, jump and all-weather tracks, and hosts 39% of the UK's annual horseracing fixtures, including some of the biggest days in the racing calendar, i.e. the Ladbrokes St Leger Festival, Coral Welsh National, Betfred Midlands Grand National, John Smith's Northumberland Plate and the National Spirit Hurdle. Venues are also used for non-race day activities such as weddings and conferences.

Worcester Racecourse, located on the banks of the River Severn, is a picturesque course which hosts a wide variety of race days, from family fun days and ladies days, to senior citizens day and themes race nights.

The Requirement

The condition of the race track is fundamental as to whether races can be held on any given day, and therefore has a massive impact on the revenue of the course. Through proper monitoring of the soil and ground conditions in conjunction with weather monitoring, the track can be effectively managed to maintain its high quality, ensuring the course can hold as many races as possible and reduce risk of injury to the horses and jockeys alike.

The condition of the track is assessed in two steps:

  • The Course Clerk measures the firmness of the ground, the ‘going’, once a week.
  • Grounds men monitor the rainfall from the point the ‘going’ is measured until just before the race day.

If there has been no rainfall in this time, then the course is watered to emulate approximately 4mm rainfall. If there has been heavy rainfall then the course is aerated by ‘spiking’ - making very small holes in the ground to encourage water in the soil to evaporate.

In order to properly maintain the course, the operators at Arena primarily needed to measure evapotranspiration (the amount of water in the soil and how quickly it evaporates) and rainfall levels. Secondary factors include wind speed and direction, temperature, and atmospheric pressure. In addition to these measurements, the information collected by the Course Clerk and the grounds men, needed to be collated in one place for all relevant staff to be able to access and use.

Our Solution

With 30+ years’ experience in the weather monitoring industry, Skyview Systems was the clear front runner for the task in hand.

As evapotranspiration and rainfall were the most important parameters to be measured, Skyview supplied the Arena racecourses with a Remote Weather Monitoring Solution and a Wireless Leaf and Soil Moisture and Temperature Station.

The Skyview Weather Station was mounted in the grandstand to capture rainfall and measure wind speed, wind direction and pressure. The Leaf and Soil Moisture and Temperature Station was mounted on the track so that the soil moisture and temperature could be accurately measured at the point of interest.

The accuracy and capabilities of the systems installed by Skyview allow the operators at all four racecourses to confidently track temperature readings from the stations to accurately predict frost. Practice races can therefore be managed to ensure that the horses avoid being injured.

Skyview was also delighted to welcome Arena on board as subscribers to our innovative weather monitoring website, Skylink-pro. With a host of real-time features and historic reports available, staff at Arena can view data to monitor wind speed and direction, rainfall and soil moisture among other features, from any PC with internet access, allowing them to make vital management decisions.