The first six months of the year witnessed a significant rise in attendances at British tracks, according to figures released by the Racecourse Association (RCA).
The overall figure of 2,987,103 for January 1 to June 30 is higher even than the same period in 2011, the record year for attendances in British racing.
Numbers show a rise of almost 300,000 on the same period in 2014, equivalent to 10%. The average number of racegoers at each fixture was 4,184, an 8% increase on 2014 and, again, higher than the record figures of 2011.
RCA Chief Executive Stephen Atkin said: “We are delighted to see such a strong performance in terms of attendances so far for this year. There are, of course, a number of factors that impact on racecourse attendances, and it is pleasing to see that they seem to have come together in the first half of this year.
“Whilst factors beyond our control, mainly the weather, play a significant role in achieving these numbers, the racecourse and central sales and marketing teams, supported by the national promotion of the sport by Great British Racing, must be congratulated on their hard work to capitalise on the opportunities that are offered to sell our sport.”
Atkin continued: “Evidence would suggest that hospitality sales at racecourses are increasing along with general economic growth of the country, and we have seen a series of record attendances at our major meetings in the first half of 2015.
“However, across the board, racing offers not just one of the best value days out in sport, but an assurance of quality across Britain’s racecourses as evidenced through the RCA’s work with VisitEngland and Deloitte.”
BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust hopes that by 2020, along with an extra 1,000 horses in training and a 5% increase in betting participation, British racing will be attracting seven million racegoers a year.
The record figure is 6,151,243, set four years ago, and Atkin concluded: “The racecourses will look to continue their hard work for the second half of the year, in which we are confident, given the right conditions, we will be able to beat the record total of attendances that was achieved in 2011.”