Racecourses enjoy 19% crowd increase - Jockey Club

Runners at the Grand National meeting
Runners at the Grand National meeting at Aintree in April

Britain's leading racecourses enjoyed a 19% year-on-year increase in attendances during the first six months of 2015.

Figures released by the Jockey Club show more than a million people went to meetings at the 15 tracks it runs.

"Racing is increasingly being seen as a great thrill and good value by people of all backgrounds and ages," said managing director Paul Fisher.

He helps oversee courses such as Cheltenham, Aintree and Epsom.

Total attendances at tracks run by the Jockey Club were up 170,000 in the period, to 1.08 million, despite 6% fewer fixtures.

Fisher said the retirement of 20-time champion jockey AP McCoy and live post-racing music nights with the likes of Kylie Minogue and the Kaiser Chiefs had contributed to the increase.

Average attendances were up 27%, from 5,319 to 6,744, and puts the group on target to pass its record annual turnout of 1.9 million.

The figures contrast with TV audiences for events such as the Derby at Epsom and Royal Ascot, which have fallen significantly in the two years since being switched from the BBC to Channel Four.

This year's Derby had a peak TV audience of 1.47 million, compared to 3.3 million three years ago.