St Leger day tickets selling fast as Doncaster gears up for return of crowds
The demand to see the world's oldest Classic brought down Doncaster's website when tickets went on sale as members of the public prepare to return to the racecourse for the first time in almost six months on Town Moor this week.
Final preparations were ongoing at Doncaster on Sunday before the track stages the first racecourse pilot event involving paying customers since March over the four-day Pertemps St Leger meeting starting on Wednesday.
Tickets can still be purchased online for the meeting, although Friday's and Saturday's Pertemps St Leger card are heading towards their capacity of close to 6,000 according to officials at the track.
"We put the first phase on sale last Friday [August 28] and that brought the system down very quickly," Mark Spincer, racing division managing director of Arena Racing Company, said on Sunday.
"The initial Saturday allocation went within minutes and there are plenty of people who want to visit. We then put another release out on Thursday and, while there's still a smattering of tickets for the Saturday, it's limited now.
"There may well be a final release for the Saturday on Tuesday or Wednesday and that will be if people return any tickets, which they have the option to."
Doncaster has opted for a phased release of tickets to ensure it can accommodate anyone who had booked earlier in the year by transferring them to one of the newly created 'zones' for the fixture.
"We made a commitment we would honour them first and we've contacted them all," Spincer said. "We've not charged them any more and just transferred them to another enclosure and really tried to look after them."
Tickets are still readily available for the opening day on Wednesday but sales for the following three days have been largely positive.
"Wednesday will find its level but I think Thursday will be a good crowd," Spincer added. "Friday and Saturday I'd like to think we'd get to capacity. There's a smidgen of hospitality left but it's very minimal now for the four days."
Anyone attending will have to agree to the code of conduct set out by the course and register their details for the track-and-trace system when purchasing tickets.
General admission customers will be located in one of the outside zones, which will all be covered by open-sided marquees with socially distanced tables and seats in place for all.
Each zone will have access to an on-course bookmaker and Tote facilities, its own toilets, catering and cleaning team as well as being supported by a social distancing officer.
A trial of 5,000 people was due to take place on the fifth and final day of Glorious Goodwood last month, but was scrapped at the last minute due to a spike in coronavirus cases across parts of Britain, and the trial at Doncaster still rests on local and national levels of the virus remaining at a level deemed safe enough so not to increase the risk of transmission throughout the week.
Despite that caveat, the team at Doncaster were advancing the "delivery stage" of the pilot on Sunday, with signs and one-way systems being put in place.
"We're planning on putting a video out tomorrow so everyone can see what it looks like, which may encourage a few more people," said Spincer.
"I'm comfortable with the work we've been doing with the council. We've been working together and ensuring we have an approach that will reassure the people of Doncaster that we've taken this very seriously.
"Their health and the health of participants and spectators is a significant piece of everything we've done regarding Covid-proofing."
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