Doncaster racecourse has taken steps to fill the massive racing void by organising a virtual race day on Saturday – which would have been Unibet Lincoln day.
The racecourse has been hit especially hard in recent months with the loss of the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy, the November Handicap card and a Peaky Blinders-themed raceday, which had significant pre-sales.
In an attempt to raise spirits, an event billed as ‘The Flat Is Back – Virtually’ will see seven races shown on their social media channels with a racecard published 10 minutes before each clip.
Two divisions of the Brocklesby, two renewals of the Doncaster Mile, two runnings of the Spring Mile and just as it would have been had racing been taking place, the highlight will be the Lincoln.
There will even be a Best Dressed competition with the chance to win two County Enclosure tickets for a day of your choosing.
Head of marketing Emma Rouse said: “I had a bit of an epiphany on Monday night. The Flat was supposed to be back on Saturday and we’d put so much work into it as a team and we’d had good advanced sales.
“We didn’t want to lose that totally, so we thought we’d celebrate racedays gone by.
“We’ve launched it with a post today, but an event will go out on Facebook with an animation explaining to people how they can get involved.
“Tomorrow we will launch the Best Dressed competition with the hashtag horsebound – rather than housebound. Hopefully people will dress up and there is the opportunity to win tickets to a future raceday before the end of December 2021.
“On Friday we’ll show a piece to camera which our raceday presenter, Natalie Green, has done introducing it all, so we’re hoping it’s going to build momentum.
“On Saturday we’ll show a virtual racecard from 1.30pm with all the runners and, using previous At The Races footage, we’ll play the races out.
“Yes, there will be people who remember who won, but there might be some who’ve never been racing before who see it and fancy a day at the races when it’s back on.
“We’ve really suffered at Doncaster lately. The annoying thing is that it seems to hit our big days – even our Peaky Blinders raceday in November.
“We had actually reached our target attendance figure in pre-sales alone before we opened the gates, which has never happened. We took the decision to continue with that one – a raceless raceday if you like, where the band still played.
“We have no idea when racing might resume, we’re obviously hoping the sooner the better, but if it helps keep interest warm, that will be great.”