Nick Smith, Ascot’s head of communications reported that 60,294 people came through the gates yesterday, down from 70,510 last year. He said that the track expected a fall in aggregate attendance over the week. “Last year, when it was busy and wet it was a bit uncomfortable in the grandstand, so we’ve just taken the pressure off by reducing capacity by 2,000. We also built the Furlong Club, which is the grandstand upgrade and takes another 2,000 off it.” I suppose if you are going to ban those little fascinators and insist on big hats you’ll need to make some space for them!
Second on Smith’s list was the good old British weather, which he reckoned had knocked a few thousand off the “we’ll turn up on the day” brigade who fraternise on the Heath.
Finally, he said that with Frankel running on Tuesday and Black Caviar tomorrow, many people had changed the days on which they came so that they could watch those two horses.
Most bookmakers were equally sanguine about the lower attendance. Tote turnover at £1,641.402 was down 9.8% on last year. Now it’s not often that I contribute to anything in racing papers, but my 15 quid on the Placepot is tucked way in there. George Primarolo for the Tote said, "The crowd wasn’t as strong as last year, which had a knock on effect on Tote turnover. However, with a bumper crowd expected to see Black Caviar on Saturday we’re confident this shortfall can be regained.”
William Hill had been best priced yesterday morning on The Fugue for the Ribblesdale, and spokeswoman Lucy Rhodes said, “Our decision to take on The Fugue at a stand out 5/2 paid off. So You Think’s result is now a distant memory after Fame And Glory failed to figure in the Gold Cup – he was the biggest ante-post liability of the five days. Despite Fast Or Free being a well backed winning favourite, we’re well ahead for the meeting so far.”
Paddy Power also found Fast Or Free something of a horror story, and they had another one to report as well. One person followed up winning £129,000 on an each way double on Bubba Watson for the US Masters and Neptune Collonges in the Grand National with a £10 each way Lucky 63 yesterday. Wins for Reckless Abandon, Princess Highway, Colour Vision, Fast Or Free and Energizer meant he picked up £841.516.22.
Perhaps he had some help from Matt’s selections.