Bookies call Sunday Series 'an absolute winner' after promising day one turnover
A peak audience of 244,000 watched the first evening meeting on a Sunday in Britain, with bookmakers reporting a strong appetite among punters for the first leg of the Sky Bet Sunday Series.
An average of 171,000 watched the ITV4 broadcast from Musselburgh which ran between 3.45 and 7pm, showing seven races in a pilot event.
When plans were revealed for the series – which offers £600,000 in prize-money across three meetings – Racecourse Media Group's Ed Gretton said its purpose was to provide "good quality racing and betting opportunities", and it appears the early signs were positive among bookmakers.
William Hill reported turnover was almost three times higher than a typical Sunday, and expectations appear to have been met across the board.
Rupert Adams, spokesman for William Hill, said: "From our perspective it's been brilliant. The meeting at Musselburgh had the same amount of turnover as York on Saturday. I know there's no football on and there wasn't that much sport on, apart from the Olympics, but we couldn't be happier with how it went.
"Any initiative like this is good and we hope the Racing League, which starts at Newcastle on Thursday, will also be successful. For us it's an absolute winner."
Paddy Power shared the same enthusiasm, with spokesman Paul Binfield adding: "It was a really pleasing debut from the Sunday Series, which performed well in terms of volume and was very strong in comparison to other Sunday meetings of similar quality."
The terrestrial coverage, which was fronted by Oli Bell and Leonna Mayor, is the driving force behind the success of the series, which has its next fixtures at Haydock on August 8 and Sandown on August 22.
Betfair's Barry Orr said of the Musselburgh meeting: "When measured against comparable Sunday fixtures, on all quantifiable metrics, the first instalment of the Sunday Series was a resounding success on both Sportsbook and Exchange. Engagement was driven by great coverage and we're looking forward to the remainder of the series."
David Stevens, spokesman for Coral, added: "Terrestrial TV coverage is always a positive factor in terms of driving betting turnover, and with Sunday's ITV4 programme showing some competitive action from Musselburgh and Pontefract, interest was on a par with where we'd expect to see it.
"From our point of view at least, there's nothing not to like about it, but it'll be interesting to see how it develops and if those within racing continue to embrace it."
There were three winning favourites from seven races at Musselburgh, while 25-1 rank outsider Mytilda caused the biggest shock in the 5f nursery.
More reports from Sunday evening:
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