History of RaceTech
The company now trading under the name RaceTech began life as the Race Finish Recording Company in 1946, following an investigation by the Jockey Club into how photography could be used as a means for judging the results of horse races. First used for the 1947 Flat season, the photofinish soon became an established part of the racing scene, and further significant technological advances soon followed as racing technology developed rapidly through the 1950s and into the 1960s: electronic race timing was introduced in 1950, the first racecourse commentary at Goodwood in 1952, the camera patrol in 1960, and starting stalls in 1965.
In 1967 the company became a subsidiary of the Horserace Betting Levy Board, and was given the title Racecourse Technical Services to reflect its widening range of technological activities, and moved from central London to its present base in Raynes Park in South-West London.
Since 1998, RaceTech has been in the sole ownership of the Racecourse Association, the trade association for all the UK’s racecourses.
In 2018 RaceTech was successful in securing new contracts with RacingTV (formerly RacingUK) The Racing Partnership formed of the Arena Racing Group and aligned courses, Sky Sports Racing (formerly At The Races) Ascot, Chester, Bangor and Chelmsford. This saw RaceTech rapidly expand to provide ten OB trucks and just under 30% rise in staff numbers, to cover over 1500 UK racing fixtures.
In 2019 RaceTech will provide broadcast facilities at over 1500 fixtures across 59 racecourses supplying HD pictures for terrestrial transmission by ITV Racing and satellite channels Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing. Its extensive coverage will capture the world’s premiere Classic, The Investec Derby at Epsom and the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree transmitted to a domestic peak of nearly 10 million viewers. Other highlights in the racing calendar include meetings from Ascot, Cheltenham, Chester, Goodwood, Newmarket and York.
- 1944 The Jockey Club appoints a sub-committee to examine the use of photography as a means of judging the results of races.
- 1945 The sub-committee reports in March, recommending that a continuous strip camera should be tested through a whole season’s racing.
- 1946 Race Finish Recording Company, with headquarters in central London, founded.
- 1947 The photofinish camera is ready for use by the beginning of the Flat season and first used to decide placings in the Grand Metropolitan Handicap at Epsom, 22 April.
- 1948 Race Finish Recording Company provides photofinish technology used in the Olympic Games in London.
- 1949 Photofinish first used to determine outcome of a Classic race in the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket, 27 April. Photofinish first used to determine outcome of the Derby, 4 June.
- 1950 Race timing introduced.
- 1952 First racecourse commentary, Goodwood, 29 July.
- 1957 First mirror system used for photofinish.
- 1960 Camera patrol first used.
- 1965 Starting stalls first used in Great Britain at Newmarket, 8 July.
- 1966 First video camera patrol.
- 1967 The company moves from central London to Raynes Park. The company becomes a subsidiary of the Betting Levy Board and starts trading as Racecourse Technical Services. The Derby is started from stalls for the first time, 7 June.
- 1983 Photofinish available on all British courses.
- 1989 First colour photofinish, in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on 20 October.
- 1995 Racecourse Technical Services assumes a new corporate identity under the name RaceTech. First use of the Omega Hawkeye system of black and white electronic photofinish. The company becomes a subsidiary of the British Horseracing Board.
- 1998 Ownership of RaceTech transferred from the BHB to the Racecourse Association.
- 2000 Electronic colour photofinish systems in use on all racecourses.
- 2002 Television units upgraded to widescreen digital. Start of major contracts with SIS and At The Races. The RaceNet fibreoptic network installed, linking forty-nine racecourses to BT Tower in London.
- 2003 All Flat meetings officially timed, using radio systems. Third big screen is purchased and operated for the Tote
- 2004 Appointments of Tim Curtis as Chairman and Brad Higgins as Chief Executive Officer
- 2005 Starting Stalls operation restructured. Stalls teams and transport services reorganised and roll-out of new style Steriline stalls units completed.
- 2006 Tom Phillips and Rob Woodward appointed to the Board as Non-Executive Directors. Phillips has held the positions of Chief Operating Officer and Group Finance Director at the Tote, overseeing the establishment of the group as Britain’s fifth largest bookmaker, while Woodward is credited with spearheading the development of Channel 4’s successful digital channels during his time as Commercial Director for the broadcaster
- 2007 Sony XD Cam system introduced to the RaceTech fleet providing digital recording and editing capabilities
- 2008 RaceTech AV launched – a new website designed to promote RaceTech’s services and expertise beyond horseracing
- 2009 RaceTech AV extends projects beyond the racing industry and makes significant inroads with public sector business. RaceTech also completes major installations projects at Epsom and completed a major upgrade of the public address system at Kempton Park Racecourse.
- 2010 RaceTech wins five year contract for the provision of High Definition (HD) television services to Racecourse Media Group (RMG). The contract includes the supply of racing’s first HD scanners at a cost of over £7m of investment. RaceTech also signs 5 year contracts for the provision of starting stalls services to 22 racecourses.
- 2011 Roll out and commissioning of the new Swiss Timing (formerly Omega) Star camera photofinish system was completed, demonstrating significantly improved image quality and capability of remote operation. RaceTech’s three HD scanners in full operational use – The company is proud to provide a daily HD service to the British horse racing industry, adding to our list of technical “world firsts” for the benefit of our sport. Rob Woodward stands down as Non Executive Director.
- 2012 RaceTech continues to make good progress with major wins from public and private sector customers such as Ordnance Survey and Newcastle University. Nic Christodoulou is appointed Director of Engineering and Technical Operations, taking over from Mick Both, who retires after almost 29 years with RaceTech.
- 2013 RaceTech provides enhanced Event TV services to many racecourses, enhancing racegoer experience as well as providing extended support services for broadcasters, including uplink, camera and technical facilities. In addition, research and development continued into new innovations – providing social media feeds for racecourse TV, a cost effective starts camera, a jimmy jib, steadicam and video streaming technologies, as well as a large chronograph available to display racetimes. Tim Curtis stands down as Chairman and Maggie Carver is appointed as Chairman of RaceTech.
- 2014 RaceTech shows a full working demonstration of our unique sectional timing and tracking solution, developed in partnership with Swiss Timing. A raft of new facilities are added including starts cameras, a jimmy jib, slo-mo cameras and enhanced graphics capabilities. Major investment in new cameras for racing, purpose built hoist vehicles and an additional HD scanner.
- November 2016 RaceTech celebrates its 70thAnniversary.
- April 2017 RaceTech celebrates 70 years of Photo Finish technology used in horse racing and other sports.
- November 2017 RaceTech design and develop a new replay touch screen for racecourses to enhance owner’s and trainer’s hospitality areas. Newbury were the first to purchase the screens which are popular in many racecourse areas including the winning connections, weighing room, press room and hospitality. They are available in wall-mounted or free-standing kiosk form and may be purchased or hired.
- April 2018 RaceTech announce new full HD Outside Broadcast coverage and integrity services for Leicester, Stratford and Taunton Racecourses who join the RMG stable.
- May 2018 RaceTech announce a new partnership for OB, integrity and technical service provision with The Racing Partnership which includes the Arena Racing Company plus associated independent racecourses, adding 22 new courses to the RaceTech portfolio.
- July 2018 RaceTech renews a long term contract with RMG to continue to cover their OB services in full HD.
- November 2018 RaceTech announce a new partnership with Ascot Racecourse Limited for OB, integrity and enhanced technical services starting from 1stMarch 2019.
- November 2018 RaceTech launch 4 newly designed and built OB trucks to complement their existing fleet.
- December 2018 RaceTech sign a new long term direct contract with the Chester Racecourse Company to provide OB, integrity and ancillary technical services at Chester and Bangor on Dee racecourses.
- March 2019 RaceTech and the BHA develop new finish line technology to provide a reverse camera angle at the Cheltenham Festival.
- March 2019 RaceTech and the BHA launch a new National Hunt timing system developed by RaceTech using break-beam technology. The system was successfully used for the first time at the Cheltenham Festival.
- May 2019 RaceTech launch OB10 a state of the art 10 metre flagship OB Unit with extendable capacity to seat up to 17 crew and cover large events & Festivals.
- 2020 RaceTech announce a new long-term partnership with Goodwood Racecourse and sign a new contract with Chelmsford City Racecourse.
- June 2020 Racing Resumes after pandemic lockdown period. RaceTech plays a vital role in “racing behind closed doors”, as part of the “essential services”, providing technical solutions and upholding protocol.
- RaceTech celebrates its 75th Anniversary 1946 – 2021
- 2021 During “behind closed doors” including Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals, RaceTech successfully introduce Vislink Radio link equipment to broadcast live action pictures.
- 2021 – RaceTech increases provision to ITV Racing Terrestrial coverage with 28 ITV injects plus full coverage of the Sunday Series, Racing League and 16 presentation days for Hong Kong Jockey Club
- 2021 Two New Mini OB vehicles added to fleet. Ideal for add-ons or designated broadcasts, capable of covering a standard race meeting and adding sustainability.
- 2022 The RaceTech Hub is developed at Raynes Park – the remote production facility enables remote directing over a number of racecourses and provides a central option for commentary and stewarding.
- 2022 Using Software as a Service, RaceTech remotely produced the UK’s first live horse racing event where traditional on-course hardware technology was deployed in the cloud.
- September 2022 RaceTech provides the full broadcast of Blenheim International Horse Trials for the first time.
- 2023 RaceTech switches to HVO Fuel increasing sustainability. A 10,000 litre tank is installed at Raynes Park with plans to add them at bases around the country.
- RaceTech introduce the Fan Cam as an option for racecourses to integrate with customers using the on-course big screens.