Horse racing; Wetherby Racecourse flat meetings to ‘benefit’ town

Date:28th October 2009.'Jonjo Sanderson, Chief Executive of Wetherby Racecourse.
Date:28th October 2009.'Jonjo Sanderson, Chief Executive of Wetherby Racecourse.

Wetherby Racecourse chief executive Jonjo Sanderson believes the Flat racing fixtures allocated for next year “can only benefit” the town.

The traditional national hunt racecourse will see their Jumps programme supplemented with four Flat dates in 2015 following a series of successful trials over the summer.

Flat horses will compete at the track on Sunday, April 26, Monday, June 22, Monday, July 13 and Tuesday, July 21 alongside 16 days of national hunt racing.

“I am very pleased. The board, and everyone else is very excited to be part of history,” said Sanderson.

“Four is a very sensible number. We had aspirations to have one, two or even three.

“When we muted those figures we didn’t know what the national fixture allocation would be.

“Thankfully, the new process that was introduced this year happened to benefit Wetherby.”

Jump racing will remain the popular course’s focus, but Sanderson explained a decision was made to diversify the schedule in a bid to attract a different type of punter.

He said: “Like any business, we are always trying to expand and grow.

“The board here thought, ‘we have some wonderful facilities that we have invested in over the years, it’s a shame they are not utilised more often.’

“The best way to utilise them was introduce flat racing.”

Two of the summer meetings will be staged in the evening, which, Sanderson said, should attract racegoers into the town and boost the local economy.

He added: “We are all dipping our toes into the water. Ultimately, we are trying to bring in new customers to Wetherby. There’s a difference between the clients that go Flat racing and that go to national hunt racing.

“I am hoping by holding a six or seven Flat racing card in the evening, it will attract more people. And hopefully people will go out into the town after too.

“I can only see it being a benefit.”

The new season at the track got underway last Wednesday after more than £200,000 was spent in the off-season to improve the course’s facilities.

The investment has applied more than 1,000 tonnes of top dressing to the newer section of the track and also paid for improvements to the service road, the winner’s enclosure and new perimeter fencing.

Next week, the course will stage its biggest race of the calendar, The Charlie Hall Chase in its two day meeting (October 31 and November 1).

Former winner Silviniaco Conti and 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup third place The Giant Bolster are hotly fancied to enter the race.

Sanderson added:“It’s looking like it could be a belter but we’ve got to get them here first.”