Good Friday Racing Hailed a Success
Two racecourses, Lingfield Park and Musselburgh, created history on 18 April when they staged the first ever race meetings on Good Friday.
At Lingfield the new £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day was hailed a huge success and was the culmination of a season, which started on 26 October, that has seen over £2.5m injected into prize money at the four all-weather tracks.
This has raised the quality of all-weather racing siginificantly, with a 71% increase in the number of runners rated over 90 (up to 25 March), the number of Class 2 races rising from 17 to 61 and runners up from 151 to 542.
Horses qualified for the six championship contests on Good Friday by running in at least three British all-weather races between 26 October and 11 April, or by winning one of 16 Fast-Track Qualifiers.
Public support was huge too, with a sell-out crowd of 8,777 easily eclipsing Lingfield’s previous best. The crowd benefitted from the winners enclosure moved in front of the stands to create a theatre-like ambience, extra big screens, betting facilities, bars, food outlets and seating areas, entertainment and bugle fanfares as horses made their way to the start.
ARC, which owns Lingfield Park, also moved to help the Lambourn and Middleham Open Days, sending them each a big screen and making a significant charity donation.
Up at Musselburgh the day also proved a success, but with Good Friday not a public holiday in Scotland the impact was less dramatic.
A crowd of 3,138 (with 263 children) still represented a 9.1% rise on the attendance for Easter Saturday in 2013, and Totepool reported that their betting turnover was up.
Total prize money was £150,000, with the feature race—the Totepool Royal Mile Handicap—offering £50,000, and the meeting was well supported by trainers with yards from Ireland and Newmarket represented.