Chester Racecourse says it was ‘thrilled’ to have the highest recorded Sunday attendance of any race day in the UK at its annual Family Fun Day last weekend.
Bosses said crowds of around 30,000 attended a sun-soaked Roodee to celebrate the 20th year of the event, the first since the controversial decision to ban people from taking their own alcohol on the open course.
But not everybody agreed the day was a success.
Bookmaker Graham Thorpe, who has had a pitch at Chester since 2001, contacted The Chronicle to say he thought the event was ‘ridiculously quiet’ compared to every other year.
“It certainly wasn’t busy,” he said. “In previous years you couldn’t even see a blade of grass but this year we knew all the betters by their first names! Bookmakers have been left totally depressed at the changes – it’s devastated the business.
“The racecourse has knocked hundreds of values off its assets.
“We made it clear to them we thought it was a terrible mistake and tried to warn them that this would happen.”
He added: “If I had to guess I’d say it was about 60% less than a normal crowd on a normal race day.”
However, a racecourse spokesperson said they were more than happy with the turnout, which included ‘a new generation of race-goers enjoying a relaxed, family friendly atmosphere’.
“We are thrilled to have had the highest attendance of any racecourse in the country on a Sunday both this year and last year,” the spokesperson told The Chronicle.
“It was a great family day out, featuring a fun seaside theme and free children’s entertainment including a pop-up beach, donkey rides, a giant 60ft slide, bouncy castle and giant deck chairs.”
And the racecourse has announced that the most popular children’s attractions from last weekend will return for future meetings on the open course and remain free of charge for children.