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Friday, April 16, 2010


THE sport of horse racing is getting ready to welcome thousands of people for its week of free horse racing.

Earlier this year nine racecourses announced that they would throw open their gates and let visitors in free of charge during a week at the end of April.

And people have responded in huge numbers already, downloading more than 25,000 free admission vouchers online for the six racecourses that are currently monitoring numbers. Thousands more people will be cutting out free admission vouchers in local newspapers over the next week and a half.

Such has been the response that one racecourse - Goodwood which is opening its Gordon and Lennox enclosures free - has given away all its complimentary tickets. That represents 10,000 people alone.

Some of the most famous racecourses in Britain - including Ascot and Doncaster - are involved in the initiative, coordinated by the Racing for Change organisation as part of a wider campaign to broaden the appeal of horse racing.

As well as the horse races, the racecourses are laying on extra entertainments.

At Ascot Racecourse, free racecards, tea, coffee and desserts are being given away. To promote the free day on 28 April, the racecourse is also opening its doors free on the evening of Thursday 22 April to those who register online at www.ascot.co.uk - and that's especially aimed at novice racegoers and other newcomers.

At Huntingdon Racecourse on 29 April, there is a beginners guide to horse racing, Channel 4's Derek Thompson is mingling with the crowds, there are fence and hurdle building demonstrations as well as a mechanical horse so that visitors can find out what it's like to ride a racehorse.

At Nottingham Racecourse on 27 April, free oysters and stout are being served.

Free horse racing begins on Monday 26 April and lasts for six days.

*Monday 26 April - Towcester; Wolverhampton;
*Tuesday 27 April - Sedgefield (evening); Nottingham (evening);
*Wednesday 28 April - Ascot; Kempton Park (evening);
*Thursday 29 April - Huntingdon (evening);
*Friday 30 April - Doncaster;
*Saturday 1 May - Goodwood.

The aim of the week is to appeal to people who have been infrequent visitors to racing in the past or who have never been to a racecourse.

Chris McFadden, Racing for Change chairman, said: "These fixtures give the public a real choice. They can enjoy either the excitement of the jumps or the speed and exhilaration of flat racing, on turf or on the all-weather surfaces at Kempton Park and Wolverhampton.

"The quality of the racing is great - Ascot stages the Group 3 Sodexo Sagaro Stakes, Goodwood has the Listed £40,000 EBF Conqueror Stakes, and Sedgefield puts on its feature race of the year, the Totepool Durham National.

"With four of the fixtures being in the evening and one on Saturday afternoon, they are at times that are convenient for people to come along with their families. Horse racing already offers free entry for under 16s - and at a growing number of racecourses complimentary admission extends to under 18s - so it is a superb and great value sport for all to enjoy."

Visitors will be able get information on how to obtain tickets by visiting www.gototheraces.com or by writing to Try Racing, Racing for Change, 75 High Holborn, London WC1V 6LS.

Currently, there are nearly six million visits made by people each year to Britain's 60 racecourses, making horse racing the second most popular spectator sport after football. However, the sport wishes not only to improve the experience of going racing for current followers but also raise the sport's appeal among potential new ones.

*Racing for Change is a new initiative created by Racing Enterprises Ltd, the commercial arm of British horseracing. The Racing for Change board features all of the sport's key organisations and includes not only representation from the racecourses and the participants, but also the Horserace Betting Levy Board and the British Horseracing Authority, the bodies with responsibility for funding, governance and regulation.

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