Andre Klein is General Manager at Warwick Racecourse. In his latest column with the Observer he reflects on successful start to 2017.
“I’m not sure if you made it along to either the New Year’s Eve meeting or the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick but if you did you may have been quietly surprised by the number or people attending.
“New Year’s Eve I’m pleased to report was, simply put a record crowd. I’ve checked the attendances at this fixture on the Levy Board website – where the official numbers are maintained – and the largest attendance at this fixture in the 1990s was 3,206, in the 2000s it was 3,509.
“So to see 6,558 push through the turnstile on Bread and Meat Close on the last day of 2016 was really pleasing and proves that racing is still an appealing day out for a lot of people.
“I have to acknowledge there were queues for the bars and for many of the food outlets at certain times of the day, and we promise to make improvements in this area next year by opening the centre of the track, but the majority of feedback at the racecourse office has by been very positive – much of it along the lines of “what a great atmosphere” and “it’s brilliant to see so many people at the racecourse”.
“Naturally we were delighted. Betfred Classic Chase Day also drew a good attendance despite the freezing cold weather. For me the highlight of the occasion, which from a racing perspective is easily our flagship day was seeing the pictures of from our track broadcast live on ITV. It gave the team a real buzz knowing that racegoers around the country were focusing in on our pride and joy of a racecourse.
“And what a spectacle they witnessed with the Scottish raider, One For Arthur winning our feature race for trainer, Lucinda Russell.
“Those who like a tip though, I thought Willougby Court was very impressive running the opposition off their hooves in the Neptune Investment Novices Hurdle. He is 14-1 in the race bearing the same name at The Festival on March 16. Get on.
“Looking ahead I can’t wait now for Betway Kingmaker Chase on Saturday, February 11. This day is always a lot of fun as we theme it Gentlemen’s Day and have entertainment such as the best dressed man contest which is always very colourful.
“The racing is always top draw. The Kingmaker itself is a two mile race used as a preparation event for the very prestigious Arkle Steeplechase, one of the gems of The Festival.
“Previous winners include Long Run (winner of the Gold Cup), Arctic Kinsman (Aintree Martell Chase winner), Finians Rainbow (Queens Mother Champion Chase winner), Viking Flagship (Queen Mother Champion Chase two times winner), Voy Por Ustedes (Arkle and Queen Mother Champion Chase) to name just a few.
“At this stage we don’t know who is turning up to compete so anticipation is high as we speculate what future stars we will see locally.”