The Racing Post has reported that the total attendance for this year’s Randox Grand National will return to its pre-pandemic level of 70,000, although the Royal Ascot event will continue with a diminished capacity.
Last year’s event was staged behind closed doors last year – with no fans in attendance to watch Blackmore’s historic win as the first woman to claim the Grand National trophy – and of course with no fixture occurring at all in 2020.
“The demand for admission tickets and for hospitality is higher than it’s ever been before,” said Jockey Club North-West Regional Director Dickon White.
“We’re really thrilled with the interest in people coming to attend and we’re planning towards a full crowd but we are in constant discussions with our local authority and our director of public health about the COVID situation in and around Merseyside. We’ll ensure we have the protocols in place to deliver what’s required.”
Additionally, Aintree racecourse also informed the outlet on Wednesday that not only will the total capacity of the 9 April race return to pre-COVID levels, but the traditional weights ceremony and a £1 million prize fund will also be reintroduced.
Last year’s prize money for the event stood at £750,000, when the title race was famously claimed by Rachael Blackmore on Minella Times, whilst the previous year saw the event cancelled due to the onset of the pandemic, instead being replaced by a virtual version.
“We’re delighted that we’re putting the race back to £1 million with Randox’s support,” White commented. “The prize-money level across the three days is incredibly important to us. We want to reward the best horses to come and run at Aintree.”
This year’s event will, as usual, be broadcast to the public via ITV, whilst the Racecourse Media Group (RMG) will distribute audio and visual content to local betting operators under the terms of a five-year licensing agreement signed between the company and the festival organisers.
The 2021 Grand National proved to be a broadcasting success with a total audience of 8.8 million watching Rachael Blackmore’s victory, the second-highest viewership for the event since ITV secured the media rights from Channel 4 in 2017.
In a separate turn of events in the south of England, the capacity at this year’s Royal Ascot will instead see its capacity reduced this year, with the Post reporting that festival organisers made the decision based on attendee feedback from 2021 – when the event went ahead with a total attendance of 12,000 as part of the government’s pilot Events Research Programme.
The Royal Enclosure will be reduced to 12,500 from 13,500, whilst the number of spectators at the Queen Anne and Windsor Enclosures will fall by 4,150 and 2,000 from the 2019 attendance figures of 20,750 and 17,000.
These changes will see the total attendance fall by 14% from 51,500 in 2019 to 44,100 for thai year’s event, although Felicity Barnard, Royal Ascot Commercial Director, informed the Post that ticket sales have remained strong since last summer and the track expects a positive turnout due to 2022 being a Platinum Jubilee year.
“We’re really pleased to be making these customer-focused changes to Royal Ascot this summer,” Barnard remarked. “They’ll provide an improved experience for our racegoers across the three main enclosures, ensuring a more enjoyable atmosphere and better access to facilities throughout the site.
“A key message in the feedback last year, when the attendance was limited to 12,000 daily as part of the Events Research Programme, was that people really appreciated the benefit of additional space.
“This set us on a journey to look at how we could reduce density to improve comfort across the site going forward in a ‘normal’ scenario. Incorporating feedback from previous years and other race days, it became clear we needed to make a fundamental change in terms of the capacities across the site.”