DICKON White insists that there is an optimistic outlook for Haydock Park as the course brings the curtain down on their Flat Turf season with today’s Racing Welfare Charity Day fixture. (FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19)
There was a dip in racecourse attendances nationwide last year and the regional director for Jockey Club Racecourses’ North West admits Haydock Park’s crowds took a downturn in the recession and have not picked up as might have been hoped in the years since.
He said: “The key objective is to get more people to come racing to Haydock Park than we have now.
“Crucially, we’ve also got to relate to our local community far better than we have done previously.
“I think that is vitally important for us.
“I realise the importance of Haydock Park to them and I want to build on that and make sure that people keep coming.
“I also appreciate that we are in very challenging economic times and people have so many demands on their time with work and where they go in their leisure time.
“But what I’d say to them is come and experience Haydock Park, even if you are not a racing fan, just savour the day and the place because Haydock Park has so much to offer.”
Haydock Park is one of only a handful of courses in Britain staging both codes of racing – jumps and flat – throughout the year.
“We want to make it a special experience, whether people are coming to watch a certain horse race, a social event with friends or a family day out,” added Mr White.
He added: “Racing is far more than horses running around a track.
“It is the spectacle, seeing horses in the parade ring, the colour and the distinct atmosphere of race day.
“I promise you that the majority of people who come to Haydock Park have a fantastic time, and we always want to hear from our customers because I think that’s vital as well.”
Haydock Park has staged racing at the current track since 1899, and Mr White said Haydock Park should celebrate that proud tradition.
“That’s incredibly important to us, the heritage and history of Haydock Park, and involvement of the Whittle family that runs through the veins of this place,” he said.
“Haydock Park has staged many of racing’s great historical moments, and sometimes people forget about that.
“For example, earlier this year we welcomed arguably the finest jockey ever, Lester Piggott, who rode his first and last winner at Haydock Park.
“I think that is something incredible for Haydock Park to talk about.”
Haydock’s flat campaign highlights saw sprinter Battaash win the Temple Stakes in spectacular style and the Tin Man, who will be in action at tomorrow’s Champions Day at Ascot, claimed the 32Red Sprint Cup last month.
Gates open at Haydock Park today at noon with the first race at 2pm.
Entry on the day available. Haydock.thejockeyclub.co.uk
By Tony Dewhurst