You don’t need to know about racing to enjoy a fun day out at the races. In fact, it can be a bonus to be a novice …
Each year, more than 60,000 people head up to Lansdown Hill to visit Bath’s historic racecourse. Having stood proud overlooking the historic spa City since 1811, today, Bath Racecourse has a jam-packed calendar of exciting events and fun things to do to entice crowds along to and, more often than not, the people visiting are new to racing.
Jo Hall, Bath Racecourse’s Executive Director, explained, “despite being the 2nd biggest spectator sport in the UK, for lots of people horseracing can seem a little daunting. There’s lots of jargon to get your head around, there’s betting to understand and, unless you’re an expert, it’s hard to know if you’re looking at a winning horse or not. It can be a challenge as actually a day or evening at the races is more about the atmosphere, enjoying great food and drink and soaking up the experience.”
She points out, “Unlike rugby or football, people don’t support a racecourse like they do a team, so we have to work hard to give people a really exceptional day out above the spectacle of the sport for them to enjoy.”
With this in mind, the racecourse works hard to put on a range of events, often with extra entertainment and themes, to appeal to lots of different people – not just those interested in the racing.
“The large portion of people that visit us are new to watching live horseracing. They might have watched the Grand National but watching live racing is a whole different experience. When people say to me they ‘don’t like horseracing’, they nearly always have never been racing. There’s so much more happening alongside the sport that if you enjoy the buzz of a crowd then you’re likely to enjoy a day out here.”
The racecourse is certainly going above and beyond to give people a great day out. In September, 80s chart-toppers, The Human League, are performing live after racing in a special music concert on the open-air stage and will join the likes of UB40, James Blunt and Tom Grennan in the list of headline artists that have performed at the track. After staging family fun days for more than 15 years, the racecourse also won an award last year for its unique ‘Kids Takeover Racing’. As Jo makes clear, “we invest in our customers’ experience each year and look at how we can stage bigger and better events from live music concerts to fun family days out. The unique combination of great racing, a thrilling atmosphere plus added entertainment means we’re attracting new people to attend the races who are looking for fun things to do.”
For many, having a flutter at the races is all part of the experience but Jo explains it doesn’t have to be complicated. “You don’t have to have a flutter to enjoy the atmosphere at the races but if you did want to bet there is lots of help explaining how to do it. The simplest options are either a bet ‘to win’ or a bet ‘each-way’, where the horse must finish in the first 2,3 or 4 depending on the number of horses in the race.”
And any tips for picking a winner? “If I could help people do that, I would be on a yacht somewhere! The first place to start is the racecard – essentially the race programme – where you can the horse’s previous form. It can also be helpful to have a look at the horses parading before each race. But most people, and often those who’ve never been before, pick a horse with a name they like the sound of; that method seems to come out on top no matter how much I study the form!”