The first ever flat race at Wetherby Racecourse will take place today – and supporters hope it will boost the town’s economy.
This Sunday, the first of four flat meetings due to be staged this year will be going ahead after months of planning.
We are very proud to be part of Wetherby and we like to think we help contribute to the town’s economy, so any increase in the number of race days would hopefully be beneficial.Wetherby Racecourse chief executive Jonjo Sanderson
With upwards of about 2,000 people expected to watch the inaugural race at the course, many are looking forward to the race not only as an exciting addition to the racecourse’s events calendar, but also as a potential benefit to Wetherby itself.
Racecourse chief executive Jonjo Sanderson said: “An increase in the number of race meetings at Wetherby Racecourse hopefully means an increased business turnover in the town.
“Even if it is just a Tuesday afternoon in the summer we would be welcoming something in the region of 2,000 people to Wetherby who would hopefully go into the town and have a look round and perhaps invest some of their cash into businesses locally.
“We are very proud to be part of Wetherby and we like to think we help contribute to the town’s economy, so any increase in the number of race days would hopefully be beneficial.”
The course’s stabling facilities are limited to 91, so no more than this number of horses will take part, but 241 initial entries were made when the event was announced, with trainers across the North, Yorkshire and the South making entries.
Depending on whether this support continues after Sunday’s bet365 flat race meeting, this new venture could well become an annual summer event in Wetherby, and many believe this could be beneficial for the town’s businesses.
Wetherby Business Association vice chair Denise Podlewska said: “I do hope it works because if it does you are going to get people
coming in all year round to Wetherby, so the town is bound to do better.
“It isn’t just the racecourse that benefits if it goes well and there are thousands of people throughout the country who prefer flat racing, so you are bound to get people coming.
“Even when there’s a race day at York, Wetherby is busy, so if it was in Wetherby it would be even better.
“I can’t see it being anything but good and it’s something new for the town. Lets hope the businesses that are open on Sunday benefit from it.”
The Mayor of Wetherby Coun Harry Chapman added: “I think it is a great thing for Wetherby to be hosting and it is a completely new venture, so that means new business and hopefully people will be spending money in Wetherby.
“I look forward to it and lets hope it works out on Sunday so they host it every year.”
Flat racing at Wetherby sees the racecourse, which focuses on national hunt racing in the winter season take a new tack by adding to its summer schedule.
The meeting also sees a brand- new rail configuration, devised by Milton Keynes Surveys and tested in Wetherby at trials day in June 2014.
Mr Sanderson said: “Like most businesses we are always looking at ways of growing and expanding and, being a racecourse, racing is the way to do that.
“We are fairly active in the core winter period, so the opportunity for us was in our summer time and we thought that, rather than having summer jumping, we would see if we could accommodate flat racing.
“We will have to look at whether it continues and one day won’t tell us everything, but we will see how it is received and how practical it is to dovetail it in with our national hunt programme, which is our priority.”
The Outer North East Neighbourhood Policing Team, based at Wetherby, is aware of the flat race and the usual traffic plan for race events, providing access relatively directly from the A1, is in place.
Insp Paul Dwyer said: “Advanced planning, in partnership with the event managers, allows us to review policing needs around any large scale public event. Wetherby Police Station remains a 24/7 operational police base.
“There are no plans to have specific deployments around this Sunday’s meeting.”
The first race on Sunday is at 2pm, and the last is at 5.15pm. There will also be flat racing on Jun 22, July 13 and July 21.
For further information about the changes a downloadable PDF of the flat course is available at www.wetherbyracing.co.uk.