Audiences on the increase as Racing attendances hit record high in 2011

More people attended British horse racing events than ever before in 2011 as total attendance at race courses topped 6.15 million for the first time according to the Racecourse Association.

The previous record was set in 2004, with a more stable economy, but the latest results exceed it by 100,000 visits. The latest figures were reportedly helped by good weather and more aggressive promotion of the sport by racecourses, along with other initiatives designed to take racing to a broader audience. The sport saw its highest attendances in July when over a million adults went racing to 147 fixtures. Children are not included in the numbers as they are allowed in free at almost all race meetings. Of the 60 racecourses around Britain, 37 saw a rise in average attendance and improvements were witnessed in most months of the year. In April 2011, 26 racecourses participated in a ‘try racing for free’ offer organised by Racing for Change, an industry promotional body. The activity resulted in an additional 63,000 adults through the turnstiles, many of whom were new customers or lapsed race goers. In October, Ascot hosted the first-ever QIPCO British Champions Day, attracting over 26,000 visitors and saw competition between many of the best horses in the world, including Frankel. The sport’s growing popularity on the track was also been mirrored in TV viewing figures with both Channel 4 and the BBC reporting increases in their audience numbers. In 2011, 9 million viewers saw the Grand National, an increase of one million on the previous year.

Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association commented: “I am very pleased to see racecourse attendance on the up for a third year in a row and to break the previous record is fantastic.”Financially it is a very difficult time for people at the moment, so it is a vindication of the exemplary work.

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