Jockey Club Launches Racing Explained Initiative

December 3, 2014

The Jockey Club, which stages many of the leading horseracing events in Britain, such as the Crabbie’s Grand National and The Cheltenham Festival today unveiled the details of a new initiative designed to help the many people who enjoy a day at the races, but know little about racing, to start to gain a better understanding of the sport.

Developed after extensive focus group and omnibus research amongst racegoers, Racing Explained aims to support and inspire more of the circa 6 million people who go racing to become more knowledgeable and engaged fans of Britain’s second biggest spectator sport, over time.

British racing’s annual attendances have increased by around 2.5 million people over the last 30 years and, in the last 10 years, The Jockey Club alone has spent more than £300 million on facilities at its 15 racecourses nationwide and prize money to attract the best possible horses to compete.

While the vast majority of racegoers have a thoroughly enjoyable day at the races according to customer surveys, an estimated 80 percent currently consider they have little or no knowledge of the sport.

This same group will go racing, on average, once in a year as a social ‘day out’, whereas engaged and knowledgeable fans will go racing several times.

The Jockey Club conceived Racing Explained after identifying links between an appreciation and understanding of racing as a sport not just a day out, and people’s levels of enjoyment and likelihood of more frequent return visits and other forms of engagement with the sport, such as through racing stories in the media, terrestrial television and radio coverage and betting on the sport.

The initiative is being launched to the public on Saturday (6th December 2014) with more than 50,000 people expected to be going racing between The Jockey Club’s Betfred Becher Chase Day at Aintree in the north and its 888sport Tingle Creek Day at Sandown Park in the south.

It will then roll out across all Jockey Club Racecourses, which attract attendances of more than 1.7 million annually.

The Aintree raceday is a ‘sell-out’ after being made free entry as part of a local community initiative.

Up to 75 percent of the crowd have not booked with the course previously, suggesting tens of thousands of people may be experiencing racing over the Grand National fences in person for the first time.

Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, said: “As a sport, we’re successfully attracting millions of people going racing each year. They’re having a great time and we’ve invested hundreds of millions of pounds in the last ten years into customer facilities and to attract the best horses to race in Britain.

“Now British racing must do more to help and inspire newcomers to want to become informed racing fans, passionate about racing as a sport and not just a great day out.

“Racing is an incredible sport when you have a good handle on the basics. A lot of racegoers tell us they find it difficult to find the first two rungs of the ladder that leads to a good understanding of the sport.

“Hopefully Racing Explained can start to address that, supported by some of the hands-on experiences we can give, such as getting up close to a retired racehorse on some of our racedays and the great Racemakers volunteers initiative started by Great British Racing after London 2012.

“We’re also clear that people just want a bit of help in the right direction; they don’t want spoon-feeding all the way to become experts because they won’t develop their own passion for the sport that way.

“Racing Explained is about trying to make things easier until you’re reading about racing in the press and tuning into live coverage to develop that knowledge and interest further.

“Ultimately, if more people enjoyed racing as a sport it would mean bigger attendances and broadcast audiences, greater betting and sponsorship interest and increased horse ownership numbers.”

Mick Fitzgerald, Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey and now leading racing broadcaster, said: “The Jockey Club’s extensive research has pointed out that we need to make it easier for people to understand certain aspects of our sport.

“They’ve been clear it’s not about dumbing it down, but making it more accessible. By creating Racing Explained they have the right tool to do this. I was delighted to be asked to add some insight to this initiative.”

Rod Street, Chief Executive of Great British Racing, said: “This is an excellent initiative. We know from our experience in running Racemakers how making the sport more accessible and easier to understand not only enhances the customer experience on the day, but develops fans for the future.

“The Jockey Club accounts for close to a third of all racecourse admissions, so can be hugely influential in growing racing’s fan base.”