What has Ascot got to be pleased about?
Mike Deasy on Ascot’s misplaced delight, meeting old friends, Irish racing’s unfair crowd control, Newbury will have to be on its guard and more
Ebor Day at York next Saturday is all but a sell-out and the other three days are due to attract healthy crowds. It was a similar picture at Goodwood.
But Ascot have seemingly struggled to match the numbers achieved in West Sussex and Yorkshire.
And the messaging from Ascot’s director of racing Nick Smith (pictured) is curiously upbeat. “We’re actually genuinely delighted we were able to sell 15,000 tickets for the King George and 11,000 for the Shergar Cup. In context those are great figures and we will build back.”
Ascot say they held back from selling tickets until they knew the circumstances under which racegoers could attend the late-July and early August events.
A late confirmation of the music line-up would have hindered ticket sales for the Shergar Cup but the King George was on a similar timeline to Goodwood and does not involve post-racing music.
Next year the attendance target for the King George is 25,000. If the average ticket price is a conservative £35, then Ascot was this year down around £350,000 in admission revenue.
That’s a hell of a shortfall to be “genuinely delighted” about.
After the unpleasantness I experienced at Goodwood, it was a delight to be at Windsor on Sunday where the evidence was that the crowd enjoyed the racing and garden party atmosphere especially as the rain held off.
It was a further opportunity to meet friends I hadn’t seen for months on end and that included equine artist Liz Armstrong.
Liz is embarking on an exciting new project with Eden Retirement Living in Newbury town centre where she has been commissioned to create art pieces with a contemporary feel.
Meanwhile you can see Liz’s work on display at both Windsor and Newbury racecourses.
Now Listowel feels the inequity of Covid rules
Racegoers are being allowed back at Irish tracks now that some Covid restrictions have been lifted but the maximum permitted at a meeting is pitiful.
The Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh played out to 500 and now the Listowel Harvest Festival is to be similarly shackled.
I wouldn’t normally challenge a government’s measures to try and control the spread of Covid but there is something very inequitable about the situation in Ireland.
The weekend just gone saw two hurling matches at Dublin’s Croke Park. The GAA were allowed 40,000 spectators. The logic is beyond me.
Irish Racing has been trying to make its voice heard to allow bigger crowds but clearly the GAA have made a louder noise or maybe these days they’re held in higher regard.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I’m sure he’s up to the task”
Windsor’s raceday announcer handing over to commentator Mike Cattermole ahead of a two-runner race
I recently treated myself to a decent portable phone charger, and took it to Windsor races.
Next time I’ll try and remember to take the cable.
Newbury will have to be on its guard
‘Tis the season of post-race concerts and that means the building of stages. Already one is under construction at Windsor and duly blocks the view of the bottom end of the racecourse.
Newbury will have built theirs at the far end of the grandstand enclosure traditionally obscuring a good chunk of the one-mile straight.
But Newbury racegoers might be more concerned by the behaviour of some people at the track who will have partaken of alcohol before arrival and then swiped their cards repeatedly at the bars.
The Berkshire track will have to be on its guard to prevent anti-social behaviour but at least the football season will be fully underway meaning some sporting interests will be exercised elsewhere.
More from Of Course
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