Goodwood and Fontwell Park have lined up a fixture feast for horse-racing fans in 2012 with a range of new features and meetings.
In a year when the number of meetings across the country and funding has been cut, the two West Sussex courses both believe they have done well to come up with enticing programmes.
Goodwood’s number of meetings falls from 21 to 19 but they have used the changes to create two new three-day festivals – one in May and one in August.
Fontwell’s total number of race days has gone up to 24 and they’ve added a fourth evening meeting to their calendar.
It all adds up to a feast of flat and jump racing for local enthusiasts, whose year will peak in August with seven meetings at Goodwood and two evening gatherings at Fontwell.
Between May 1 and August 31, there will be 22 meetings across the two popular tracks.
Goodwood’s changes have come about largely because their traditional September weekend would have clashed with Revival.
Managing director Adam Waterworth has worked hard to get the right replacements for the weekend to improve the Goodwood season.
They will host racing on Friday, May 25, while a meeting previously on a Wednesday in May has moved to Thursday 24 which, with the traditional May Saturday, creates three successive days of high-quality racing that will include four Listed races and total prize money of £300,000.
It’s a return to the May festival meeting that was last run a number of years ago.
Goodwood has also gained Friday, August 24, for an evening meeting, replacing the Thursday evening in August, which will lead nicely on to Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 to create another three straight days of racing.
The Saturday will feature the Group 2 Betfair Celebration Mile and will offer £412,000 in prize money.
Waterworth said: “We’ve worked hard with the BHA and they have supported us in obtaining these new fixtures.
“These are currently for 2012 only and we will have to wait to see whether these stay for the future, but to create four feature meetings through the season in May, June, July and August gives our season a real focus.
“Planning is now well under way for the season ahead and we can’t wait to get started and back racing in May.
“The team have worked hard over 2011 and delivered another great season and 2012 can only build on this.”
Fontwell is one of very few racecourses in the country to see its number rise.
Executive director Phil Bell said: “Ours is one of the most customer-friendly fixture lists in the country with a great balance of midweek afternoon meetings combined with plenty of weekends and evenings.”
Fontwell’s first highlight is Sunday, February 26 – an ‘All About the Horse’ race day featuring the Betfred National Spirit Hurdle.
Bell said: “At this fixture there will be opportunities to ‘Meet The Racehorse’, farrier demonstrations and the chance to ride on a horse equisizer (mechanical horse). If you have ever wanted to own a share in a racehorse, we will also be offering opportunities to meet syndicate organisers.”
Thursday, August 16 will be Ladies’ Evening followed a fortnight later by a new Gents’ Evening.
Friday, October 5, and Saturday 6 will see year two of Fontwell’s two-day festival.
Bell added: “If you book in advance for any meeting in January, February and March 2012, admission is just £10 for the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure.”