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Crowds ‘impeccable’ on return as spotlight moves on to Sandown

Racecourse officials are eagerly awaiting this weekend’s big-race action after being delighted with the response of Wednesday’s crowds – the first to be allowed back on track following the coronavirus lockdown.

Four courses were permitted to welcome up to a maximum of 2000 people under Tier 2 of the latest Covid-19 Government restrictions, following six months of racing behind closed doors.

Two of the those which staged the first return of crowds, Haydock and Kempton, come under the Jockey Club Racecourses banner.

Dickon White, north-west director for JCR, said: “It’s a great privilege to have hosted racing yesterday.

“I’m a massive racing fan, so it means a great deal to see people back at Haydock Park. It was a really important day, not just for us and the Jockey Club, but also the racing industry.

“This is the first stage back to normality, and you could sense the atmosphere around the course. The feedback was exceptional, and everyone behaved impeccably.”

Phil White, who is responsible for Kempton and Sandown as JCR’s London director, said: “It was really great to see spectators back at Kempton last night, and those I spoke to commented on how much they enjoyed the evening.

“It was great to trial the racegoer experience before other forthcoming fixtures to help make sure we continue to provide safe and enjoyable days out for racing fans.”

Altior is due to delight the Sandown crowd on Saturday
Altior is due to delight the Sandown crowd again on Saturday (Julian Herbert/PA)

The immediate focus for White is the two-day Betfair Tingle Creek Chase meeting at Sandown – starting on Friday, and for which Saturday tickets, and the chance to see dual Champion Chaser Altior in action in the feature race, sold out within minutes at the start of the week.

“Looking ahead to Sandown Park and the Betfair Tingle Creek Festival this weekend, it’s been fantastic to see such demand for tickets – and all the allocated general admission tickets are now sold across both days,” he said.

“We are all very much looking forward to welcoming spectators back on Friday and Saturday for two days of top class racing.”