UP TO 13,000 racing fans will ignore the economic slump to welcome the new Flat season at Doncaster this weekend.
Racecourse managing director Mark Spincer hopes to improve on last year’s bumper Lincoln turnout, despite the financial gloom that has enveloped the area over the last 12 months.
Referring to the public’s tight purse strings, Spincer said: “Everybody has been hit but last year we had bigger crowds than the year before so that was really positive.
“It’s about giving people a good day out, these are difficult times with the recession, we work on the philosophy that if we give people a good time hopefully they will come back.
“Last year we had around 11,500 so if weather stays as it is like to get maybe 13,000 depending on how many walk up on the day.”
Doncaster Racecourse is hosting the William Hill Lincoln, one of the biggest events on the calendar.
The meeting runs over two days, but the major events are on Saturday.
Spincer said 90 horses had been entered for the £100,000 Lincoln, and as only 22 can compete, the next favoured 22 are automatically placed in the £40,000 Spring Mile.
The prospect of the races had sent a buzz around the sport and South Yorkshire, says the MD.
“It’s fantastic for Doncaster in officially opening the flat racing season and have done this for years. You’ve only got to talk to owners and trainers and jockeys - they can’t wait for the start of Flat season.
“I know they have been running on all-weather but getting back on the turf is hugely important so everybody is excited.”
Other businesses near the Racecourse will be licking their lips too, as they cash in on the Racing followers, says Spincer.
“We did some work last year with ‘Go Racing in Yorkshire’ and (discovered) we were just over £40m in what we are worth to the local economy. That’s what we put in with people staying in hotels, eating in restaurants the Doncaster Bloodstock Sales, the race and event days.
“We’ve got 33 race days this year. We probably run as much as we can over the Flat (March to November.) Jumping is not quite as well supported as in the flat season. In the last few years the Doncaster audience has become very much a ‘Flat crowd.’ ”
Last year’s Lincoln winner was Sweet Lightning, who came home two and half lengths clear of Brae Hill.
The seven year old has been plagued by injuries since but will run again on Saturday.
Spincer says has been running his eye over Eton Forever, who ran away with the William Hill Spring Mile in 2011. “I don’t mind who wins as long as he comes home safely.
Eton Forever would be great. Whichever wins is one to watch for the rest of the season; you’ll probably seeing them winning some big races.”