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Tracks blame Beast from the East as attendances for first half of the year fall

Attendances at the Cheltenham Festival, as with other major meetings, rose this year
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British racing attendances from January to June fell for the fourth consecutive year but the Racecourse Association has pointed to the 'Beast from the East' as an explanation and highlighted a rise in the average number of people visiting each meeting.

Although numbers at four of the sport's major festivals - Cheltenham, Aintree, Epsom and Royal Ascot - all moved in an upward direction, the cumulative total for the first half of the year reached 2,753,397 for 704 fixtures, down from 2,798,479 in 2017 and a modern high of 2,986,760 in 2015.

The RCA attributed the latest decrease to the abandonment of 69 meetings and highlighted a 2018 increased average crowd figure of 3,911, up from 3,787 last year.

Year

Total Attendance
(Jan to June)

Fixtures Staged

Average Attendance

2015

2,986,760

714

4,184

2016

2,805,467

707

3,968

2017

2,798,479

739

3,787

2018

2,753,397

704

3,911

In response to the weather-inflicted cancellations, 22 short-notice replacement fixtures were staged, pulling in more than 11,000 racegoers.

Outgoing RCA chief executive Stephen Atkin said: "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 testament to the hard work and dedication of the racecourse teams in all disciplines, but particular praise must go to groundstaff, who have worked tirelessly in incredibly challenging conditions across the country. We are also grateful to horsemen and BHA for their support."

Atkin added: "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 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."


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The industry is working on some fantastic initiatives to ensure we can offer a wonderful day out for racegoers that provides value for money
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