THE chief executive of Beverley’s racecourse has welcomed a six per cent increase in crowds at the picturesque Westwood track.
Sally Iggulden says an impressive 80,000 people attended meetings at the East Yorkshire venue this year.
And, while this figure equalled last year’s total attendance, it was achieved despite one fewer raceday.
“It has been a memorable year at the racecourse and we’re absolutely delighted with another rise in average raceday attendances,” she said.
“This season we knew we would be competing with the football World Cup, so we decided to make the most of it, and our raceday on July 7, which coincided with England playing Sweden in the quarter-final, turned out to be one of our busiest and best meetings.
“We showed the game on a big screen and there was a fantastic atmosphere.
“The feedback from other courses in Yorkshire is that attendances are generally down year on year, so we’re thrilled to be bucking the trend. I believe that’s due to our focus on the quality of the raceday experience and innovative thinking that is making this course more accessible, inclusive and popular than ever before.
“I must pay also tribute to the amazing efforts and incredible skill of our ground staff who, against the odds, were able to produce excellent and safe course conditions for horses and jockeys throughout the season, despite a very wet winter and an exceptionally dry summer.”
Innovative events during the season included the staging of Britain’s first deaf-friendly raceday, designed in partnership with the British Deaf Association.
In July, the racecourse joined forces with Contact the Elderly, a charity dedicated to combating loneliness among older people, to stage a raceday tea party, when 80 local elderly people and volunteers enjoyed an afternoon of tea and sport.
And plans have been announced for a major upgrade of spectator facilities in the biggest investment in the track’s history.
Laurens will face a maximum of 12 rivals when she goes in search of a fifth Group One victory in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
Leyburn trainer Karl Burke’s star filly won the Prix Saint-Alary and the French Oaks over a mile and a quarter earlier in the season before disappointing when stepped up to a mile and a half for the Yorkshire Oaks.
Laurens showed her true colours back at a mile in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown three weeks ago, seeing off the now-retired wonder-filly Alpha Centauri, and will look to add to her tally this weekend.
Royal Ascot heroine Signora Cabello might not run again this season after performing way below her best in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
Ryedale trainer John Quinn feels it was “one step too far” for the dual Group Two-winning juvenile filly, who never really got competitive and was eventually well beaten behind Fairyland in the six-furlong Group One.
Sea Of Class is set to take on last year’s winner Enable after Skipton-born trainer William Haggas confirmed the Yorkshire Oaks heroine will be added to the field for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at tomorrow’s supplementary stage.
That means the mouthwatering clash between the two top fillies from the last two seasons will headline Europe’s premier middle-distance race at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.