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Record-breaking crowd sees history made at Lingfield Park racecourse
2:00pm Thursday 24th April 2014 in News
A record-breaking crowd packed Lingfield Park racecourse on Good Friday to see history made in East Surrey.
Thousands of race-goers flocked to Lingfield Park Resort as it became the first ever British racecourse to stage a meeting on Good Friday.
Managers were forced to turn people away when the site reached its capacity.
By the end of the second race during the Finals of the All-Weather Championships, the crowd had swelled to the course's capacity of just under 9,000 – disappointing some who were still queueing to get in.
Andrew Perkins, executive director of the Resort said he was thrilled with the support shown by avid race-goers and local people looking for a family day out.
Mr Perkins said: “Obviously it was a shame that we had to turn some people away, but we have to adhere to our capacity. “For those who did get in, it was a fantastic day and we don’t think anyone was disappointed.
“It was a real pleasure to head up a team who made history and provided such a good experience for both our customers and the racehorse industry.”
Neil Mackenzie Ross, who has been Clerk of the Course at Lingfield for the last nine years, said: “I have never witnessed noise like it. It was an awesome sound.”
As well as the seven races offering £1 million in prize money to the winning owners and trainers, visitors were met by a 21-piece marching band, a bugler starting every race and an array of entertainment.
Former England and Liverpool striker, and keen racehorse owner, Michael Owen, was among the crowd.
Mr Perkins said: “The industry is full of compliments about the day and it looks like racing on Good Friday is here to stay.”
One major change for the day was the building of a special winner’s enclosure in front of the main grandstand, allowing thousands of spectators the chance to view the presentation to the winning connections, and the weighing-in of the winning jockey.
Mr Perkins said: “It meant that the whole crowd could appreciate the sense of occasion and join in with the celebration.”
Jeremy Noseda, who trained Grandeur, the winner of the big feature race of the day, the Coral Easter Classic, echoed Mr Perkins' thoughts about racing on Good Friday, saying: “It's breaking with tradition but we're in the entertainment business and you can see the huge crowd that is here today.
“That's what our sport depends on. All the sceptics can have no answer - this is a success and well done to them for putting it on."