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Newmarket confident despite downturn- 14 Apr 2009 00:00:00

The management of Newmarket Racecourse is adamant it can survive the recession despite corporate hospitality bookings and ticket sales down ahead of its flagship meeting.

Newmarket managing director Stephen Wallis believes revenue streams will improve despite the downturn ahead of the Guineas Festival in May.

He said: ‘What we're finding is that people are booking later, but they're still booking. y should we be immune from what's going on elsewhere? It's tough, but it's by no means dead.’

Wallis, who joined Newmarket after 14 years at Epsom, went on: ‘We're part of the leisure industry and the discretionary spend of the consumer, and people are more wary about spending their money.’

Alongside its traditional Group 1 meetings such as the Guineas Festival and Champions Day, Newmarket has also pioneered the booking of pop bands to play after evening cards, which is now responsible for around 40% of their annual gate receipts.

Wallis believes that the Newmarket Nights events will remain an important part of the calendar because they attract a new audience to the sport.

‘We have a hardcore loyalist following that understands furlongs and the difference between [betting odds] 13-8 and 7-4 and don't want to see any change, but then we're trying to attract a new audience where the sport has an alien language.

‘We have to protect our heritage and tradition, but use it in a modern way to make it vibrant and alive to a new audience.’

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