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UK Tracks Boss To "Double Crowds To 10 Million A Year"
UK Racecourse Association chairman Ian Barlow has “set out an ambitious vision for the sport”, suggesting racing should aim to be "by a clear margin the 2nd most-watched sport in the UK after football, with 10 million going annually & attendances growing” reported guardian.co.uk. Barlow declared he wants to see racing “re-established in the country's psyche, appearing routinely on the back pages of the newspapers & frequently on the front pages”. He also noted racing should be “rated by customers as the best value-for-money of any visitor attraction or sport in the UK”. And Barlow emphasised his vision of “racecourses at the heart of the communities in which they are located”. While accepting that if racing is to reach the 10 million target, attendance “will need to rise by nearly 70% from the current level of around 5.8 million”, Barlow “drew on an example from history to suggest it can be achieved if all sectors of the industry have a shared view of our goals”. He recalled: “You'll be familiar with the example of (US space program) NASA in the 1960s. Everyone, from senior executives to receptionists, knew their mission: to get a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Sure, it was just one organisation & we are many. But the principle is the same.” Expanding on how this can be achieved, Barlow said racecourses “have a huge role to play” & suggested “every racecourse should have at least one Festival annually which is a can't miss social event in its area like the Grand National or St Leger or indeed, the Melbourne Spring Carnival.” Barlow (who conceded he is “an optimist, but that's my job & unless you set your goals high, you've got no chance of getting there”) enthused: “I've just come back from the Melbourne Cup. That's all about the fashions. The ladies want to go & so the boys go as well & they get 102,000 in there. We need to look at much more innovation on race days.” (Nov 25)