How The World Cup Affected Racing Attendances

How The World Cup Effected Racing Attendances

The University of Liverpool have been busy of late producing several studies covering multiple debates in horse racing, and they have composed another highlighting the link between England's progress in last year's World Cup, and the fall in racecourse attendances up and down the country.

Gareth Southgate's side progressed into the latter stages of the competition held in Russia, before being knocked out by eventual runners up Croatia, 2-1 in the semi final after extra time - who lost to France in an entertaining final.

The three lions had overcame Sweden and Columbia in the knockout rounds, and Professor David Forrest said our home nation's incredible success was one advanced explanation for the fall of average figures at the racetrack over the summer.

Harry Kane England
Harry Kane, England Number Nine

(Credit: Racing Post) He said: "England playing in the World Cup or the Euros is a disaster for racecourse attendance.

"The scale of the disaster in 2018 was revealed to be a 20% fall in attendance for the Flat when England were playing within a one-hour window of racing taking place, and a 35% drop for an all-weather meeting.

Poor weather conditions was also a more frequent contributor to falls in the number of attendance on racedays. A day with 10mm of rain lowered crowds at a Flat fixture 8%, whilst if 25mm fell, the average figure declined by 12%.

"There's a lesson here for the sport, because it's a reason to push advanced ticket sales, so that racegoers pre-commit.

You could also reverse that statement, to suggest that some days the sun bearing down on a roofless crowd could also turn away potential punters with the strong heatwaves that took over Britain in the months of June July and August.

There was better news for National Hunt racing attendances, with Forrest suggesting: " Jumps fixtures are far less responsive to rain, and its followers appear to be hardier than those on the Flat."

Last year's Gold Cup Day, the fourth and final day of The Cheltenham Festival, was attended by 70,684 racegoers - a sold-out crowd, which saw Native River get the better of Might Bite in the big one.

Thanks to this number and two record crowds earlier in the week, the Home of Jump Racing saw a new record total attendance at Prestbury Park - a whopping figure of 262,637.

The record is set to be smashed again this year, when we get underway for the greatest four days of sport in just under five weeks time.