Finally, the court have acted to rid horse racing of one of its greatest menaces.
Anyone that has been to the Cheltenham Festival will have seen and/or heard them: the ticket touts, lingering outside the gates and around the town, offering tickets at the ‘best prices’ to the next silly sausage tempted to break the moral code.
Thankfully, the touts will be looking for a new line of work following a groundbreaking ruling from the High Court.
Ticket touts will now be banned permanently from operating at the Cheltenham Festival as of 2020, after a High Court ruling granted on Tuesday.
Ban to Run Throughout the Season
The ban will cover the Festival itself as well as the whole National Hunt season at Prestbury Park, and organisers are delighted with the news.
The lawyer representing the course’s owners, Jockey Club Racecourses, said:
“This is a great success for Cheltenham racecourse and the Jockey Club, and will act as a massive deterrent to any tout considering operating at Cheltenham racecourse at any time in the future.
“Anyone doing so may be found in contempt of court and subject to the custodial sentence that this entails.”
It follows the temporary injunction that JCR gained in October to cover the 2018/19 campaign.
Put simply, the terms of the ruling implicitly state that the injunction ‘prohibits the buying and selling of tickets by touts and the selling of tickets to touts by any person, including anyone assisting in that activity.’
And to show that this wasn’t just a nominal rule to appease the industry, anyone spotted flouring the touting law can be fined, have their assets seized or, for repeat offences, face imprisonment.
The racecourse director at Cheltenham, Ian Renton, said:
“We are absolutely delighted to secure a permanent injunction against touting at Cheltenham.
“This landmark ruling follows the success of the temporary injunction the courts put in place for the current season, which has reduced the incidence of touts at the racecourse to an absolute minimum.
“We are very pleased to have now been granted a permanent injunction, which will be of great benefit to our racegoers who have been seriously inconvenienced by the actions of touts for many years.”
Stamping Out Ticket Resellers
Renton had confirmed in the aftermath of this year’s Festival that the number of touts operating at Prestbury Park had reduced significantly thanks to the original temporary injunction. He said:
“There were about 20 touts operating around the racecourse yesterday [the opening day of the Festival], who were removed. To put into context, we’d have had around 150 in the area last year.
“It may well be that only when there’s serious action taken against the individuals do they stop operating entirely. However, the fact is while we’ve not totally eradicated the touts, there’s a massive reduction in numbers, and that’s giving racegoers a hugely more enjoyable experience.”
The course director confirmed this week that many other sports had been following the court ruling closely, and so a wider ban on ticket touting is surely set to follow.