British horseracing attendances stood up well to the country’s worst weather in years from January to June, with the average attendance per fixture more than 3% up on 2017, despite the abandonment of 69 race meetings.
The total number of attendees in the first half of 2018 was 2,753,397 at 704 fixtures, slightly down on the same period for 2017, but given the challenging weather conditions in the first three months or so of the year, that figure is viewed positively by the industry.
With 69 abandonments, considerably more than the 18 during the same period in 2017, a total of 22 short-notice replacement fixtures took place, providing opportunities for horsemen and also to ensure levy continued to be generated. Despite having been arranged at speed, providing the public and bookmakers with limited notice, these fixtures still attracted more than 11,000 racegoers in total.
Despite these challenges, the average attendance for the first half of 2018 was 3,911, compared to 3,787 last year.
Encouragingly, the major festivals during the first half of the year have performed well, with The Festival at Cheltenham, the Randox Grand National, the Boodles May Festival, The Investec Derby Festival and Royal Ascot all growing attendances year on year from 2017 to 2018.
|Year||Total Attendance (January to June)||Fixtures Staged||Average Attendance|
Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive at the Racecourse Association (RCA) commented:
“The weather conditions experienced so far in 2018 have been the most challenging that racing has faced for some considerable time. To see our average attendance increase during this period is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the racecourse teams in all disciplines, but particular praise must go to ground staff, who have worked tirelessly in incredibly challenging conditions across the country. We are also grateful to horsemen and BHA for their support.
“I’m thrilled to see the crown jewels of our sport retaining their affinity with the public and performing so well. The increased publicity around events such as The Festival, the Randox Health Grand National and Royal Ascot can only benefit the sport.
“The industry as a whole is working on some fantastic initiatives to ensure we can offer a wonderful day out for racegoers that provides value for money. Our data programme with Great British Racing (GBR) is helping all racecourses to understand further the expectations of racegoers and GBR’s U18s Race Free campaign has injected some stardust with David Walliams and Billy Jenkins helping to promote racing’s unique offering to under 18s.”
Fakenham Racecourse Attendances for 2017 and 2018
When it comes to data at Fakenham Racecourse, in 2017 the attendance figures between January and June were at 16, 957. That is to include the two abandoned meetings in early January 2017. For the same date range in 2018, the figures show attendance of 16, 107; however, this is to include 2 abandoned race meetings, one of which, was Easter Monday – historically known to be the best-attended race day in Fakenham Racecourse calendar with average attendance numbers between 3,500 and 4,500 people.
So while on the paper Fakenham attendances are slightly down from 2017, it is safe to say that should the Easter Monday was not abandoned, there would be some growth in attendance correlating with the report form RCA.