Warwick Racecourse boss hoping for another big family crowd

Sunday sees Warwick's annual Four Legged Friend Raceday when, as well as seven races for the horses, there will be a number of events out on the track for pet dogs, topped by the LPS Pug Gold Cup, writes David Hucker.
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Manager Thomas Williams will be hoping for another big family crowd to continue his good start in the role. Warwick born and bred, Williams was announced officially as Warwick racecourse manager on Classic Chase Day in January, becoming one of the youngest to take up this role within the Jockey Club Racecourses' portfolio of tracks.

He had, in practice, been operating in the post since the beginning of November, having became assistant general manager only 13 months. Graduating from university, Williams started at Warwick in October 2015 as operations executive, so this appointment is another move up the ranks.

He has a hard act to follow as Klein, who has been promoted to a role at Cheltenham, is widely credited with lifting Warwick's fortunes after flat racing was stopped at the course following a fatal accident to Artful Lady on track in May 2014, leaving just jump meetings to fill the programme.

Thomas WilliamsThomas Williams
Thomas Williams

Klein's emphasis when he took over in 2015 was to engage with the community, ensuring the racecourse is used for events outside of meetings and initiatives such as Fiver Friday aimed at bringing in a family audience during school breaks.

Williams is continuing this work, with a bumper crowd of 8,076 at the Poundland New Year's Eve meeting. There was another big crowd of 5,369 at Kingmaker Chase Day last month and 4,282 for Fiver Friday, with the meeting raising money for four local charities.

There should be another big turnout on Sunday for what is the beginning of the biggest week in the jumps calendar with the Cheltenham Festival starting two days later. The first race, the Racing TV Profits Returned To Racing Novices' Hurdle, is at 1.50pm and gates will open two hours before.

Longest race of the afternoon is the Carol's, Eddie's & Dan's Special Birthdays Handicap Chase over three miles and five furlongs which, last year, saw an all-the-way success for the popular grey Volcano and this is followed by the most valuable race on the card, the £17,500 Every Race Live On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle (Challenger Stayers Hurdle Qualifier), over three and a quarter miles.

The eventmasters.co.uk Open National Hunt Flat Race, due off at 5.20pm, brings the afternoon to a close.