Racing named second most popular UK sport

Nearly six million people chose a day at the races last year, making it the second most popular sport in the country, a new study has today revealed.

A thrilling atmosphere and higher level of customer satisfaction than other sports were both mentioned as factors for racing’s increase in attendances, with the final figure of 5,987,167 the third highest number in the past ten years according to sports marketing agency Two Circles, who carried out the research.

Three of the racing’s crown jewels – Royal Ascot, the Cheltenham Festival and the Epsom Derby Festival – featured in the top 10 most attended sporting events of 2016, whilst the month of July alone saw nearly 1 million people flock to a racecourse as sun-dwellers and thrill-seekers came together.

Record crowds over the Christmas period also contributed, with 204,106 people attending a raceday between Boxing Day and the 1st January 2017 (up 13.8%).

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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 grow attendances by attracting 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 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.”