Please Note: Next Race meeting is Wednesday 9th October

Racing given a timely boost, as Grand National tickets prove popular

After a year which has seen significant criticism head the way of horse racing, those who had been fearing attendance levels were in terminal decline will welcome the good news coming from Ascot and Aintree.

Although the Grand National is still nine months away, a look at the current ticket availability shows several sections of the course are already sold out. The news will undoubtedly be seen as a huge relief for organisers who made the bold choice to raise ticket prices amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and recent negative publicity surrounding horse racing.

The Grand National Festival takes place over three days every April, with the 2025 event scheduled from April 3rd to 5th. Ticket prices vary, starting at £35 for the Festival Zone on day one, while many tickets for the main event on Saturday 5th exceed £150.

Despite a £5 to £10 increase in most ticket prices for 2025, it seems that fans are still eager to attend. Seats in the Earl of Derby and Queen Mother stands, as well as the Platinum Lounge, are already sold out for Grand National day.

Royal Ascot, an annual barometer of the well-being of the sport, posted excellent results amid a general concensus that the show is as strong as ever.

This news may dampen criticism that organisers need to enhance the overall experience for attendees. Heavy rain at the Cheltenham Festival in March caused significant issues, with spectators stuck in muddy car parks for hours, and a welter of criticism of over-pricing and value for money. The shortfall in attendance and its concomitant impact on finances has held to a reduction in overall prize money in the second half of the year.

Proponents of the current pricing structure point to other major sporting events as justification for the increases. For instance, attending a Premier League football match now often costs fans over £50 for a much shorter experience, while a day on Wimbledon’s Centre Court costs as much as £275 for finals day.

Ensuring that live sport remains accessible for all, rather than becoming an elitist event, is a global issue. Next month, the world’s eyes will be on Paris, and there are concerns about empty seats, especially during the early rounds of the football tournament and even some marquee events like athletics.

For now, event organisers at those showpiece events in Paris and Aintree, as well as more local sporting venues like Ludlow, must continue to balance maximising profits with ensuring strong attendance numbers. The news from Aintree is undoubtedly a positive sign, and hopefully a key part in rewriting the narrative that horse racing is fighting a losing battle to attract punters.

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