Racing: National Student Day planned

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RACING will be the first sport in Britain to hold a National Student Day.

The six racecourses with fixtures on Saturday, 26 October will make a joint admission offer to young people, aiming to create the country’s biggest-ever student attendance in one day. The venues involved are Aintree, Newbury, Doncaster, Chepstow, Stratford and Wolverhampton.

The announcement was made by Great British Racing’s chief executive Rod Street at the annual meeting of the Racehorse Owners Association. He said the aim was to build upon the success of one of “racing’s best assets – kids come free”. Racecourses offer free admission to under 18s or under 16s at many of the annual 1,500 fixtures. Street said: “Fast forward a few years and that kid we’ve entertained joins one of the many university racing clubs we’ve set up around the country and they continue to come racing, perhaps starting to enjoy the social aspect of

race-going as a group.”

Street gave owners an update on other developments in promoting the sport which, with 5.9 million racecourse visits a year, is already the second most popular in Britain behind football. He said: “Four of the UK’s best attended sports events are racing. We’ve averaged racecourse attendances of 5.9m over the last few years. We’re second only to football in attendance and dedicated television hours. Betting on racing accounts for some £100m in tax income for the Government.”

Meanwhile, the betting for Saturday’s John Smith’s Northumberland Plate is set for another major overhaul after market-leader Tiger Cliff was effectively ruled out of the race and another leading contender, Kazlian, was scratched. Marco Botti’s De Rigeur and Jonjo O’Neill’s Royal Ascot scorer Well Sharp were both significant absentees following Monday’s confirmation stage for the “Pitmen’s Derby”, leaving Lady Cecil’s Tiger Cliff at the head of the betting. However, with the ground at Gosforth Park looking increasingly likely to be on the fast side, the Ascot Stakes runner-up is almost certain to miss out on a trip to the North East this weekend.

It’s also the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby this weekend and leading contender Sugar Boy has been sold to Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum. The Authorized colt won the Sandown Classic Trial on his most recent appearance for trainer Patrick Prendergast, notably beating subsequent Epsom Derby second and third Libertarian and Galileo Rock.

He will run for Prendergast in this weekend’s Irish Classic, but will be switched to an unspecified trainer afterwards.