Royal Ascot patron at a betting window.

Royal Ascot patron at a betting window.

AP/Richard Lewis

Royal Ascot Betting Soars as Attendance Declines Slightly

The Royal Ascot meet ended Friday on a successful note, indicating that British racing has overcome the effects of foot and mouth disease that sent shock waves through the industry earlier this year.

The £7-million wagered during the four days represented a 9% increase over the £6.43-million figure for 2000. Although Friday's attendance of 60,862 was the highest for that day and Thursday's Gold Cup card crowd was a record 72,589, overall attendance of 233,808 was a decline of 1.5%.

The track caterer, Sodexho, reported large gains in business as capacity in the Royal Ascot Village was increased 25% for this year's meet.

"We have had a marvelous Royal Ascot, with the second-biggest overall attendance ever and a record Friday crowd," said Douglas Erskine-Crum, Ascot's chief executive. "Back in the spring, when the weather was appalling and the foot and mouth crisis was at its height, bookings slowed down to a near standstill. That is normally a busy time for our booking staff and so we are particularly delighted with how things have turned out this week, blessed with the most wonderful weather and the best racing in the world."