Racecourses gear up for busiest day of the year

This Saturday (29 July) looks set to be the busiest day of the year for racecourses with up to 130,000 racegoers expected across seven meetings taking in the second day of the King George VI Weekend at Ascot as well as Chester, Lingfield Park, Newcastle, Newmarket, Salisbury and York.

In 2016 total attendance across the equivalent seven fixtures on July 23 was 130,594 – the biggest aggregate daily crowd in the past ten years and believed to be a record daily aggregate for the sport. The second biggest crowd in the last 10 years was 117,419 on the Saturday of Royal Ascot in 2015.

Super Saturday tops 100,000 again

This year’s ‘Super Saturday’ on July 15 certainly lived up to its billing with a bumper 103,057 people going racing across the six meetings at Ascot, Chester, Hamilton Park, Newmarket, Salisbury and York. That number was similar to the 2016 aggregate crowd of 103,847.

The biggest crowd of the day was at York where 32,262 people turned up on John Smith’s Cup day while 25,654 were at Chester and 19,604 at Ascot. A total of 16,051 watched Harry Angel win the Darley July Cup at Newmarket and there were 6,260 at Salisbury and 3,226 at Hamilton Park.

Half-yearly attendances

The half-yearly attendance figures for British racing in 2017 are also on a par with 2016 as a total of 2,798,479 people went racing across the 738 fixtures between January and June. This compares with a figure of 2,805,467 for the same period last year across 707 fixtures. As a result the average attendance so far in 2017 is slightly down year-on-year from 3,968 to 3,792.

There were increases in four of the six months as strong numbers at the Grand National meeting and the enhanced Good Friday programme across Lingfield Park, Bath and Newcastle as well as an increase at Newmarket’s Craven meeting boosted April.

Chester’s May meeting crowds were up while a Royal Ascot boosted by the first new enclosure for 100 years, consistent increases at Goodwood and a bumper Ladies Day at Market Rasen contributed to an increase in June.

Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association, said:

“It’s fantastic to see so many people going racing during the summer and highlights the importance of staging racing at accessible times.

“With top class action almost every week on the track as well as a wide range of entertainment for all ages, the summer provides the perfect chance to showcase racecourses as brilliant venues for a day out.

“July and August always attract the biggest crowds and we are working hard with GBR to promote their #StirrUpSummer campaign which will bring new audiences to our racecourses across the next two months.

“The Insight=Growth data work is also now a key cornerstone for racecourse marketing teams and as a result we are selling more advance tickets, offering better value to customers and ensuring that attendances are becoming less effected by the weather. We hope this will allow us to continue the five year growth curve we are currently experiencing.”