Racing For Change calls for metric usage
Wednesday 25 July 2012
Three London racecourses are to trial the use of metric distances and weights this summer in an effort to attract tourists in England for the Olympics and younger racegoers.
Epsom Downs, Kempton Park and Sandown Park will all trial the initiative, which will first be tested at Sandown tonight.
The furlong markers will be adorned with large metre markers while the racecard will be published with both race distances and jockey weights in Imperial and metric units.
“Racing’s unique language is an asset and part of its heritage and appeal, but we do think that the use of both metric and Imperial measures will help us to explain the sport better to our international visitors and younger adults,” Rod Street, Chief Executive of Racing for Change, said.
“Imperial measures don’t mean a great deal to kids and tourists, so it makes sense to trial the use of metric information. This summer, our London racecourses are expecting a significant number of overseas visitors, as well as British families taking advantage of free entry for U16s at most racedays.”
Britain, Ireland and America are the only major racing nations around the world that use Imperial measurements.
France, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong and Dubai all use metric measurements.
Britain first went metric in 1965 but Imperial measurements were banished from shops in 2009.
The 2011 census showed that those taught in metric in primary schools now exceeds the number taught Imperial measurements. IT was also suggested that by 2022 those born after September 1969 will outnumber those born before that date by a ratio of 2:1.
“This is a great idea when so many tourists will be visiting Britain for the Olympics,” Frankie Dettori, the jockey, added. “In Italy, I grew up with metrics so it’s second nature to me, as well as to my kids, but I can understand why they’re running them side-by-side since many racegoers are happier with Britain’s Imperial measures.”
There are expected to be 450,000 tourists from overseas during the London 2012 Olympic Games, with China alone accounting for over half of those.
In addition to those visitors, 5.5 million people are expected to descend on London from Friday for the Olympic Games and surrounding festivities.
It is not known how many of those will attend the three London racecourses.