July 5, 2007 at 22:31 #4544runandskipMember
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eclipse day is sandowns big flat day of the year. advance sales are 9.000 so maybe 15,000 will turn up but shouldnt a track like sandown get many more?
its a great ampitheatre,got well laid out facilities and is only 15 miles from london.
if the same card was at ascot or york there would be twice the crowd so why does sandown seem less well attended nowadays.
i was there on the jumping saturdays last winter and to me the crowd seemed well down on what it used to be but cant understand why.
newbury is another course that seems to struggle to get the attendance levels its racing deserves.July 5, 2007 at 22:58 #106294VenusianParticipant
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This article by Lydia Hislop in yesterday’s Times explains all…July 5, 2007 at 23:53 #106304graysonscolumnParticipant
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Terrific piece by Lydia there.
I’d reckon there is a great deal of truth in her assertion that Sandown’s attempts (or lack of) to pool an audience from the local populace have left a lot to be desired, and I increasingly suspect the same of Haydock and its ever-shrinking attendances for its jumps cards (if the view is taken, of course, that filling the course with p*ssheads on a Friday evening is a distinct and far easier discipline).
In the case of the latter has there been, perhaps, a misplaced confidence that a card containing Graded contests – e.g.the Haydock half of the North West Masters double-header (with Aintree), Betfair Chase and all – sells itself without further recourse to promotion? Few are the racecourses outside of the big Festival and Classic venues that could genuinely afford such a casual attitude to selling the merits of their product.
The patron saint of lower-grade fare. A gently critical friend of point-to-pointing. Kindness is a political act.July 6, 2007 at 01:38 #106313Irish StampMember
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Most punters don’t want to see 8 runner Grade 1 chases. They want 20 runner handicap hurdles, 4 places and 6/1 the field. I’ve been to a number of meetings at Haydock – mainly as it was my local track and by far the best attended was the National Trial/De Vere/Vodka Gold Cup meeting – with the addition of a couple of good hurdles to the card (Graded novice) and the Victor Ludorum (I think) for Juveniles it attracts large crowds.
Compare this to the Peter Marsh meeting – the big race itself, the Champion Hurdle Trial and the Long Distance Hurdle took up half the card and in recent years there’s been maybe 15-18 runners between the three and that might be being generous.
Yet to visit the Betfair Chase meeting as it’s near enough a replacement for the old Tommy Whittle Chase/Edward Hanmer meetings but was impressed with the facilities at Aintree last November – not least the brand new grandstands and the opening of the International Equestrian Centre sometime this year.
I guess my point is if it came down to 4 Grade 1 Chases and 2 Grade 1 hurdles with a total of 40 runners or 4 handicap chases and 2 handicap hurdles with a total of 110 runners the mug racegoers who don’t appreciate quality would much rather take the latter.
The Betfair Chase should sell itself – I wouldn’t need any persuading to attend the King George or the Tingle Creek, it should sell itself to the genuine race fans it’s the locals they need to attract.
MartinJuly 6, 2007 at 07:59 #106319yeatsParticipant
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I’m still waiting for them to have only one winning postJuly 6, 2007 at 09:17 #106326apracingParticipant
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I reckon both tracks (Newbury and Sandown) have the same problem – they are invariably surrounded by traffic jams even on days when there is no racing.
Travelling to either is a nightmare and although both have a station close at hand, the railway is only convenient if you’re travelling from a specific place.
APJuly 6, 2007 at 09:30 #106328the welsh wizardMember
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Sandown Park has long been my favourite place to watch Racing, although it’s atmosphere has changed immeasurably since I first attended in 1991. Then it had a throbbing, vibrant buzz to it – now it has an air of pleasant tranquility. It is a credit to the place that a day’s racing is just as enjoyable now as it was then, despite this almost complete transformation in "feel".
I think Lydia Hislop is wrong in attributing this change to a rapid turnover of personnel because it is a bigger issue that has to be confronted, which Jeremy Grayson has touched upon but not fully explored. Namely, that the currently "successful" racecourses are packing themselves with bars full of people who aren’t really interested in Racing but merely in enjoying themselves and this is a trend which most people within Racing seem to bemoan regularly. The kind of Saturday crowds who pack the likes of York, Doncaster and Ascot to the rafters are not exactly welcomed with open arms by anyone in Racing outside of the courses themselves – and yet Sandown is criticised for not attracting those very folk.
Racing has to come to terms with this paradox – do we want to attract numbers, or do we want people to become genuinely interested in Racing – because the truth is, those in the latter group are dying out, literally, and are not being replaced at anything like the same rate. Dumbing down Racing, as has been the fashion for the last decade or so, will add to the former but do nothing to arrest the latter’s decline.July 6, 2007 at 10:22 #106338sporting samParticipant
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More room for me to move freely about tomorrow.July 6, 2007 at 16:35 #106382clivexMember
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Sandown isnt quite as big as some assume and 15000 there tomorrow will be pretty crowded
I think lydias article is spot on. I am a regular there and the course seems to have drifted lately. even looking a bit tatty in parts (which you would never expect). Even though im a regular one for booking tickets there, there is little marketing (unlike Newbury say)
Kempton is a real contrast. They market aggressively and the course and stands are in great shape.July 6, 2007 at 17:52 #106391pengamonMember
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I think this year was always going to be a difficult year for Sandown to get a big Eclipse day crowd.
Most years it’s up against Wimbledon but this year throw in Live Earth and armchair viewers get all 3 by staying at home and those who want to go out can have a once in a lifetime chance to see the Tour de France-for free and get loads of freebies that are flung from the caravanne in the 2 hours before the Time Trial starts.
I’m probably no longer a yardstick as i haven’t been racing in the UK since July Cup day last year but I intend to watch the 1st match at Wimbledon, then go and see Le Tour.
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