As the vice-like grip of Covid-19 begins to loosen on the sporting world, it means a sense of normality is returning to a number of disciplines and that normality can be measured by the sight of spectators being permitted entry to live events.
Something that has understandably not been the case for the past year or so and one of the pastimes that has been severely affected by the global pandemic that is amongst us, is none other than the sport of kings.
Horse racing is a sport that thrives on paying attendance for race meetings, as it is this revenue which then filters down to those who devote so much time and money into breeding and training equine talent.
Not only that, but without the revenue that comes from attendance, the operation of racetracks themselves becomes a far harder task and if the gates are closed, it also has a knock-on effect for bookmakers up and down the country.
Of course, in this instance it is not those bookmakers who operate within the confines of bricks and mortar (although their own business prospects would have been hampered during the pandemic), it is those who offer odds just yards from the turf.
These more traditional bookmakers have had an incredibly tough 12 months or so, as an inability to set the prices for a swathe of punters has meant that their only revenue stream has been closed off completely.
While this scenario has played out on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean the sports betting scene has been largely decimated since last March, as race events have been cancelled due to safety grounds.
A sight that has taken place all across the United States since March 2020 and at the same time, the United Kingdom has not been immune to such scenes either and although there has been a large element of despair in recent times, there is also some light at the end of the tunnel.
Light that has shone on the famous racing location of Ascot and although attendance figures have not quite been as high as hoped in recent weeks, there is a feeling that a mass return is just around the corner.
As a point of reference, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup saw only 11,000 paying customers enter the turnstiles in early August and although every man and woman was welcome, it was less than half the figure of two years prior.
Part of that comes down to an element of apprehension regarding mass attendance and for many, there is still risk that needs to be mitigated when going out in public – a feeling that is rather understandable.
Although another reason for a lower attendance than expected, was due to tickets going on sale rather later than first planned and with the first of these only being purchased in June, perhaps 11,000 is not a bad figure after all.
With the glass being viewed as half full rather than opposed to half empty, there is confidence that this figure will only grow for the upcoming events and with a capacity crowd of roughly 28,000, that will serve as the sales target for October’s British Champions Day.
Held on October 16th of this year, it usually sells somewhere in the region of 27,000 tickets and although that figure might not be matched this time around, there will be no complaints from the Ascot bosses if only 25,000 are sold by comparison.
Because even at that number, it will suggest that the UK horse racing scene and Ascot is very much open for business and the optic of so many people through the doors, will be an incredibly welcome sight to those who ply their trade within the venue itself.
For the men and women who have lost more than a years’ worth of race day trading, they themselves are open for business and although they’ve had to navigate some incredibly choppy waters, thankfully a calmer journey is on the horizon.
A journey that sees the thrills and spills of racing play out once more and for those who love this great sport, they will love nothing more than being able to place a bet or two on their next live racing visit.