Cut in crowd size for Gold Cup day at the Cheltenham Festival
THE capacity for Gold Cup day at the Cheltenham Festival has been reduced to avoid over-crowding.
Officially 70,000 people were at the course to witness Jonjo O'Neill's famous Gold Cup win with Synchronised in March.
Next year a maximum Prestbury Park crowd of 67,000 will watch the best jump horses in the world battle for a place in the sporting history books.
Outgoing managing director Edward Gillespie, who relinquishes his role on November 2, made the surprise announcement yesterday at a press conference to launch the new season at Prestbury Park.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
"Inevitably with Festivals, issues come out of them and one of those was the sheer number of people here on Gold Cup day," he said.
"It was certainly extremely difficult for members of the public to get around.
"It was decided, following a review of the meeting, that the capacity for Gold Cup day would be further reviewed.
"It is amazing that this year we had 70,000 here on Gold Cup day and we had 73,000 here when Desert Orchid won in 1989, and that was before we built the Centaur and the Best Mate enclosure.
"It's extraordinary to think how busy that was – it also poured with rain that day – and how customers' expectations and their behaviour has changed in that period.
"The capacity will be reduced for this season's Festival to 67,000 on Gold Cup day.
"That's a five per cent drop and we believe that will make a significant difference to the comfort."
Gillespie said the capacity will be looked at again once redevelopment work at Prestbury Park has been completed.
He will jointly run the first meeting of the season at Prestbury Park, the Showcase next Friday and Saturday, with new supremo Ian Renton.
Ever the showman, Gillespie marked the handover of power by passing Renton a set of reins at the press conference yesterday.
Gillespie announced in April he would stepping down from his high-profile role after 32 years at the home of jump racing. The 60-year-old, who will now work as consultant, recalled how Renton, the new regional director for Cheltenham and the South West, worked for him as an assistant in the mid-1980s.
"When he left I told him he ought to apply for my job when it cropped up – and he did," he said.
"He's had a very distinguished career and it's a real joy to welcome him back and enjoy, I hope, the success and fun this place has given to me. I'm in the departure lounge and my flight departs on November 2."
The Showcase meeting will once again offer racegoers a chance to visit areas of the racecourse normally off-limits, including the weighing room and the commentator's box.
Total prize-money at Cheltenham this season will be £5.5 million – an average of nearly £51,000 a race.
It was also announced yesterday that the first major race of the season, the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November, will be worth a record £160,000.