Racing second-best attended sport
More than 5.98million people enjoyed a day at the races in 2016, with racing regaining its place as the second-best attended sport in Britain.
Action on the opening day of the 2016 Open Meeting proved as popular as ever with racegoers.
Racing dropped to third in 2015 behind football and rugby, with the Rugby World Cup hosted in Britain that year, despite over six million people making a trip to the track.
However, after attracting the third-largest attendance figure in the past 10 years, racing is at the forefront of spectator sport, with Royal Ascot, the Cheltenham Festival and Epsom Derby Festival among the top 10 attended UK sporting events in 2016.
Record crowds of 204,106 over the Christmas period between December 26 and January 1 provided a significant boost, while Warwick, Cartmel and Fontwell were all hailed for their large increases in attendances.
Stephen Atkin, Racecourse Association chief executive, said: "It is very pleasing to see racing return to the second-best attended sport in Britain against a backdrop of unfavourably wet weather during the first quarter and the competition of the Rio Olympic Games and Euro 2016.
"The five year growth trajectory highlights that a day out at the races continues to increase in popularity. As part of the Insight=Growth programme we have the broadest data warehouse of attendees in any sport.
"Through intelligent use of this data racecourses can now make targeted improvements to the raceday experience and grow attendances by attracting those who are aware of racing but have not previously considered attending."
Rod Street, Great British Racing chief executive, is particularly pleased to see racing has a higher percentage of female attendance (39 per cent) than other sports.
He said: "The research reinforces the fact that racing is a brilliant day out that caters and appeals to a wide range of people and is backed up by very encouraging 2016 attendance figures."