UK bookmaker Coral and video production company JockeyCam are launching a live, first-of-its-kind virtual reality racing experience. Racegoers attending the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival in Ayr, Scotland, on Friday 1st April and Saturday 2nd April will be able “to experience exactly what it is like to ride a racehorse over fences thanks to a pioneering virtual reality activation.”
Coral’s new Virtual Race Experience, which was developed in partnership with JockeyCam, provides racing fans with what the company describes as “a 360-degree jockey’s eye-view” of riding in a race staged and filmed at Chepstow Racecourse in Monmouthshire, Wales, through the usage of VR headsets.
Racegoers will don virtual reality headsets on the Coral activation stage at Ayr racecourse. They will “ride as one of the seven jockeys in the race,” competing head-to-head with each other, and “getting closer than ever before” to experiencing what it is like to be a jump jockey in a horse race.
For the development of the experience, footage was filmed at Chepstow Racecourse with a 360-degree high-definition camera mounted on the helmets of each of the seven jockeys who raced over two miles and 11 fences. Coral describes the technology as “pioneering,” enabling fans viewing the footage to look in whichever direction they want, as if riding the horse.
"Coral and JockeyCam are working together to get racing fans even closer to the action of this amazing sport, and we are so excited to be launching this pioneering Virtual Race Experience,” said Simon Clare, Coral PR Director.
JockeyCam organized the staging and filming of the race, with racehorses supplied by trainer Tim Vaughan, seven professional jockeys riding in the race, and race commentary provided by Stewart Machin.
"The 360-degree camera technology is just incredible and delivers the most realistic and intense experience of riding a racehorse in a jump race,” added Clare. “We will be taking the Virtual Race Experience to all our race sponsorships throughout the next couple of years, as we want as many people as possible to get the chance to take part in this experience."
Sam Fleet, Managing Director of JockeyCam, explains that while most people have kicked a football or whacked a tennis ball, very few people have ridden a horse - let alone a racehorse. The new virtual reality product, the executive explains, is set to provide for that experience.
“It means that people can feel really engaged with the sport and understand just how challenging a jockey's job is,” Fleet explains. “The fact that its 360-degrees should make it a really incredible experience for people who are having a go."