Racing beats the crowd when it comes to a great day out
The thrilling atmosphere of a day at the races and a higher level of customer satisfaction than sport in general has helped racing to record its third largest attendance figure in the past ten years.
More than 5.98 million people went racing in 2016 and according to research conducted by sports marketing experts Two Circles, the raceday experience scored an impressive 8.6 out of 10. The average for all other sports combined is 8.2 and features major spectator sports cricket, football and rugby.
The research, carried out through a series of raceday surveys, considered ten aspects of the customer experience and benchmarks racing against other sports. Racing outperforms the sporting average in eight of the ten categories, including atmosphere, stewarding and food and drink.
Horseracing also regained its place as the second best attended sport in Britain in 2016 with attendances topping 5.98 million. In 2015 racing was the third best attended sport behind Rugby with the Rugby World Cup hosted in Britain that year. Football remains the best attended sport.
The final 2016 figure of 5,987,167, was the third highest in the past ten years and the only year not to feature centrally promoted campaigns for free racing. This was also achieved despite 56 abandonments throughout 2016 compared to 37 in 2015. The average attendance throughout the year was 4,175.
Royal Ascot, the Cheltenham Festival and the Epsom Derby Festival were among the top 10 attended UK sporting events in 2016.
The 2016 attendances were boosted by record crowds of 204,106 over the Christmas period between 26 December and 1 January, up 13.8% on the same period the previous year.
July was an especially popular month with attendances up 9% and just short of 1 million (993,517 compared to 911,262 in 2015) as the sun shone on the Coral-Eclipse weekend at Sandown Park, Newmarket’s Moët & Chandon July Festival and the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
Warwick produced the biggest like for like percentage increase in attendances with 28% growth from 32,379 to 41,604. Cartmel were not far behind with crowds growing 21% from 73,300 to 88,744 while Fontwell Park grew attendances 18% from 52,462 to 61,876.
Stephen Atkin, Racecourse Association Chief Executive, said: “It is very pleasing to see racing return to the second best attended sport in Britain against a backdrop of unfavourably wet weather during the first quarter and the competition of the Rio Olympic Games and Euro 2016.
“The five year growth trajectory highlights that a day out at the races continues to increase in popularity. As part of the Insight=Growth programme we have the broadest data warehouse of attendees in any sport. Through intelligent use of this data racecourses can now make targeted improvements to the raceday experience and attract those who are aware of racing but have not previously considered attending.”
Rod Street, Great British Racing Chief Executive, said: “The research reinforces the fact that racing is a brilliant day out that caters and appeals to a wide range of people and is backed up by very encouraging 2016 attendance figures.
"We know from the work undertaken by Two Circles that in particular, racing has a higher percentage of female fans (39%) against the all sport average of 20% and this insight, together with the fact that racing is one of the best value days out for families, will inform our work in promoting racing to a very broad audience in 2017."