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Attendances at British racecourses has exceeded six million for the first time in four years.

The Racecourse Association has announced attendances at the 59 courses rose by 5.3 per cent in 2015 to 6,129,433 last year, 309,463 more than 2014 and just 21,810 short of the 2011 record.

Average attendances also rose to 4,256 per fixture, a 4.4 per cent increase on the 2014 figure of 4,076. This is the highest average attendance since 2007 (4,376).

“It was a particularly competitive year with the Rugby World Cup and The Ashes, so it is extremely gratifying for racing to have increased its attendance figures and perform well against other sports,” Stephen Atkin, chief executive of the RCA, said.

“It is reward for the hard work put in by racecourse teams across the country and the vital contribution by horsemen, the BHA and Great British Racing. It also reflects the very substantial investment by racecourses in customer facilities and other infrastructure.

“The figures highlight the huge popularity of racing in Britain and the importance of each and every racecourse to its community.

“Looking forward, 2016 will bring with it a unique set of opportunities and challenges for racecourses with the Queen’s 90th birthday and the crowning of a new champion jump jockey for the first time in 20 years.”

Rod Street, chief executive of Great British Racing, said it was now important to build on the growth.

“We know horse racing, in various ways, reaches over 30 million people, who don’t currently come racing,” he said.

“That presents an opportunity for growth and we look forward to working with the racecourses to convert some of that number into new attendees.”

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