Excellent Easter sees attendances hit record levels

Racing enjoyed a bumper Easter weekend with near record attendances at racecourses across the four day period from April 14-17.

There were three outstanding cards on Good Friday, with Lingfield Park welcoming a record 10,817 for All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Bath welcoming 9,200 and almost 6,000 people heading to Newcastle on the same day.

Haydock Park entertained 7,000 for the second-ever Challenger Series Finals Day on Saturday while 5,028 flocked to Musselburgh to see the first running of the Queen’s Cup as well as Grand National winner One For Arthur parade before racing.

Chepstow had a bumper 8,635 through the gates on Easter Monday and Plumpton’s two fixtures on Sunday and Monday attracted in excess of 7,500 people.

Total attendance was 93,235 across the 20 meetings over the four days, an increase of 99% on the 2016 figure of 46,934 and the highest since Good Friday racing was introduced in 2014.

It was just short of the 93,395 record for the period in 2011 (19 meetings) when Easter fell exceptionally late and over the final day of the jumps season at Sandown Park.

The average attendance for this year was 4,670 which was also well up on last year’s figure of 3,352.

The expansion of the Easter programme has complemented the traditional Open Days with around 10,000 making their way to Lambourn on Good Friday and more than 2,500 to Middleham on Monday.

Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association, said: “The commitment that racecourses have made to putting on quality racing across the Easter period has clearly benefitted the sport and proved a hit with racegoers.

“With fixtures across the length and breadth of the country the Easter break provides an ideal opportunity for many to go racing, with children allowed in free a major selling point compared to other sports and leisure activities.

“Following on from record numbers at Christmas, we’ve seen brilliant crowds over Easter, highlighting the importance of staging racing when the vast majority of the public can attend.

“The credit must go to the forward-thinking racecourse teams for ensuring competitive racing as well putting on a wide range of other entertainment to help draw a diverse crowd.”

Rod Street, Chief Executive of Great British Racing, said: “The increases in attendance over Easter come on the back of the very positive figures for Christmas and those for 2016 which saw racing regain its position as the second best attended sport.

“Over the Easter period, racecourses worked hard to put on brilliant family entertainment in addition to the quality racing they staged and, with children under 18 free, the sport is a great day out for all the family.”