Woman caught up in Haydock brawl with toddler calls for alcohol free zones

The ugly scenes at Haydock Park
The ugly scenes at Haydock Park

A woman caught up in the "terrifying" brawl at Haydock on Saturday with her two-year-old son has called for the introduction of family areas on racecourses.

Rebecca Pownall, 27, and her toddler Adam had to be led to safety, as a running fight which appeared to involve up to 30 violent racegoers took hold around them, before stewards eventually brought the situation under control.

Footage of the trouble went viral on social media, and clearly showed the group barge into a pram - which thankfully was empty at the time.

"My first priority was obviously (my son) Adam," said Mrs Pownall, from Eccles, Greater Manchester.

"My husband was stood with me - but I saw my dad get knocked, and I didn't see where he went. It was terrifying."

As a result of the incident, Mrs Pownall thinks it is may be time for racecourses to think more about the family experience - with bigger designated alcohol-free zones her suggestion.

"The first time we took Adam to a racecourse he was one month old, and it was the family day, so everywhere was accessible to everyone," she said.

"The second time was at Haydock, and we decided to go into the cheapest area because of the running space, and I figured it would be quieter than the Tattersalls stand."

Since then, the family had a rethink and instead chose the Premier enclosure.

"Unfortunately, there were (around) four bookmakers (in the cheap area) - so we had no variety," said Mrs Pownall.

"Me and my dad like to back the rank outsider for a laugh, so then we went the other way and always pay premier, because it's quieter - usually.

"We can go anywhere - we can spend all day in the family area and get to anywhere.

"We should be able to trust others to behave, and families shouldn't be segregated, but there should be an area available at all courses where it's a family-friendly area - and no one with alcohol and drugs, or appear to be under the influence of either, are allowed entry.

"So, if you picture it, you pay for your ticket etc and there's a gated area in the far end with a guard on there. You have to be in a family with kids to enter - and no alcohol is allowed, so the guard vets it."

The Pownalls may have witnessed the worst of racing at the weekend, but champion jump jockey Richard Johnson has been in touch to reassure her and trainers Fergal O'Brien and Rebecca Menzies have offered stable visits.

A return trip to Haydock has also been offered.

Mrs Pownall said: "We're still in shock, I would say.

"Haydock representatives are being really good, to be fair, and say they want to give us a VIP experience and show it's not like what we experienced and to give Adam an amazing day.

"So we will most likely take them up on their offer in the summer."