WARWICK officials are hoping to match last year’s crowd of more than 6,500 when racing returns for one of the course’s most popular fixtures of the season on New Year’s Eve, writes David Hucker.
The course is the sixth oldest in the world, with racing dating back to 1707.
It was the first racecourse to stage a hurdle race as part of a race card in 1831, effectively establishing the sport of National Hunt racing.
Since becoming an all-jumps track in 2014, with a five-year plan to become one of the UK’s leading small courses, Warwick has been on an upward curve.
It has seen a huge growth in attendances, averaging an increase of close to 20 per cent every season and topping 40,000 for the last two years.
This has been reflected in the New Year’s Eve crowd which has increased by more than 4,000 people since 2013.
Earlier this year, the track attracted nearly 7,000 to their May Bank Holiday meeting, the largest race day audience since the 1980s.
The meeting will mark the end of another successful year at the course, which has seen it receive national acclaim of Best Fine Dining Experience for its 1707 Restaurant at the National Racecourse Catering Awards and also collected the Racecourse Association’s Best Groundstaff award, beating Ascot and Great Yarmouth.
With a record number of advance ticket sales, it should be a good end to 2018 and a day of dry weather, not always a racing certainty at this time of the year, will help boost the crowd.
Gates open at 10.25am, two hours before the first race and there is ample free parking in the centre of the course.
The meeting is again sponsored by Local Parking Security, with the first race a novices handicap hurdle over two miles and three furlongs.
A National Hunt Flat Race brings the curtain down on the afternoon and the year at 3.35pm.
The highlight race is the £10,000 Local Parking Security Handicap Chase over three miles, won last year by Themanfrom Minella, trained near Banbury by Ben Case, who beat course regular Paddy The Oscar, who was pulled up on his seasonal reappearance at the last meeting.
There will be live music from Birmingham-based contemporary Irish Trad band LAMPA at intervals throughout the day and racegoers will be greeted by the sound of The Peas as they arrive at the racecourse, starting the New Year’s celebrations early.
In the ‘Auld Lang Syne’ Shed there will be charity whisky tasting to take part in, with a selection of six different malts to choose from.
All funds raised will be donated to the Air Ambulance Service.
There is also the chance for racegoers to win tickets to Warwick’s Gentlemen’s Raceday on Saturday, 9th February – with on-the-spot prizes awarded for the racegoers dressed in ‘the classic’ racing attire.
Andre Klein, general manager at Warwick Races, said: “We have continued to see annual growth of the New Year’s Eve Raceday, as it goes from strength to strength.
“It has grown to be the standout fixture on our raceday calendar, alongside the Classic Chase Day on January 12th and is a fantastic way to spend the final day of the year.
“With the early start, racegoers can visit us to start their New Year festivities early, and then head on to their evening celebrations.
“It’s been a fantastic year for us at Warwick and we’re looking forward to closing out 2018 in style with this fixture.”
Advanced general admission tickets start from £12.50 and under-18’s entry is free of charge when attending with a responsible adult.
Visit www.warwickracecourse.co.uk for more information and to book tickets.