Friday, 25 April 2008
Ayr Racecourse attracts record crowds
for Scottish Grand National Festival
By: Our Own Correspondent
ALMOST 22,000 people flocked to Ayr Racecourse over last weekend for the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival.
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The two-day crowd was the largest for more than 25 years, with 5,500 in attendance on Friday and more than 17,200 on Saturday.
And a staggering 1.1 million viewers watched the race live on Channel 4 – a significant increase on last year.
The new £4.5 million Grandstand Bar opened for the first time, and was voted a great success. One racegoer, Alan Clarke from Ayr said: “The facilities here have improved greatly. The new bar is a tremendous asset, and there was very little queuing over the two days.”
More than 1,500 people stayed on to watch The Saw Doctors on Friday night and the Irish rockers played a set that lasted almost two hours.
It certainly was thirsty work over the weekend, and almost 50,000 pints of beer were sold and bar taking were up on the same weekend last year.
Tote turnover at their on course betting outlets was also appreciably up year on year, and the 18 new bookmakers pitches in the Paddock Lawn area and in the Grandstand also reported brisk business.
A total of 800 staff were on hand to make sure everything ran smoothly, and a huge fleet of taxis ferried punters into Ayr and Prestwick and other surrounding towns and villages after racing, ensuring a huge spin-off for the local community.
Racecourse spokesman Iain Ferguson said: “The weekend was a great success, and my phone has been red-hot with people congratulating the team at Ayr on a job well done.
“In addition to the great crowd, we also had increased media interest, and had the Channel 4 racing team here, two BBC Television crews, a team from Scottish Television, BBC radio news and sports reporters, local radio journalists and an army of writers and photographers from all the leading newspapers in the UK and Ireland.
”The Ayrshire economy will have had a huge spin-off running well into seven figures, with local hotels, bars, restaurants, taxi operators and shops all benefiting.”
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