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One in five Brits admit they are ‘fair weather’ horse racing fans

“The fact that so many people are interested in these events despite not typically following the sport shows the appeal that Cheltenham and other events hold”  (SWNS)
“The fact that so many people are interested in these events despite not typically following the sport shows the appeal that Cheltenham and other events hold” (SWNS)

Researchers polled 2,000 adults and found half became “equestrian experts” when a big horse racing event took place– although many say this fleeting interest could lead to a year-round love for the sport.

As many as 90 per cent of followers of the big three racing events – Cheltenham, Grand National, and Ascot – will have a flutter, typically placing a stake on six races.

While 26 per cent take their interest to another level by purchasing a copy of the Racing Post in a bid to find an “absolute cert”.

And 31 per cent have arranged social get-togethers so they can enjoy all the highs and lows of race day with family and friends.

But this momentary interest in the sport isn’t limited to events like Cheltenham - the research commissioned by 888sport found it even happens with football.

As much as 39 per cent of those polled said they’ll only follow major international tournaments like the Euros and the World Cup – or just watch FA Cup Final.

More than a third (35 per cent) only follow tennis during Wimbledon, 23 per cent only watch rugby during the Six Nations and 18 per cent only tune in to Formula 1 when the British GP takes place.

A spokesperson for 888sport said: "There are many great racing events throughout the year, but Cheltenham is one of the biggest.

“The fact that so many people are interested in these events despite not typically following the sport shows the appeal that Cheltenham and other events hold.

“Across the 28 races there will be twists, turns, and upsets galore – spectators will be on the edge of their seats – we can’t wait.

“And their interest in the sport could capture their imagination so much they might even start to follow it throughout the year.”

The study also found, of the 34 per cent of adults who follow horseracing, 51 per cent claim to become an expert in it - for the duration of the Grand National, Cheltenham, and Ascot in particular.

While 59 per cent of all adults have bet on a horserace at one time or another - with 21 per cent claiming to have a good instinct for picking out a winner.

The top three methods used when choosing which horse to place a stake on include its name (21 per cent), the odds (21 per cent), and the past successes of the thoroughbred.

Other popular tactics include monitoring the weather conditions (14 per cent), tips from racing supplements and blogs (12 per cent), and the colour of the jockey’s uniform (10 per cent).

More than half (53 per cent) have never been to a live racing event – however 40 per cent would like to attend one in the future.

Carried out through OnePoll, the study also found 81 per cent like to watch the major sports events – the likes of the Superbowl, the Boat Race, and the Ashes.

With 35 per cent of those who do this so passionate about occasions like these, they plan their entire year around them.

And 34 per cent of followers of major sports said they like to try out new sports – so perhaps horseracing could be one they get into.

A spokesperson for 888sport said: "There are those who like to stick to one or two sports and follow them closely, those who watch everything going, and those who just watch the big events.

“Whatever your preference, there are plenty of events to choose from and enjoy.”