Racing: Derby week facelift tries to halt Downs decline

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The Independent Online
THE MOST frequently criticised race-meeting of the year, the Derby meeting at Epsom, is to be re-organised in order to try to stimulate flagging interest and attendance. The changes could preface a shortening of the meeting to three days.

Apart from the Derby, Oaks and Coronation Cup, the meeting's supporting races frequently attract moderate horses and compare badly with the undercards at similar fixtures. Now Epsom is to switch the Coronation Cup from its slot on Thursday, the day after the Derby, to Friday, the day before the Oaks.

The move seems to be in order to encourage racegoers to attend on three days and neglect the second day of the meeting. 'It effectively turns Derby week into two major meetings with a minor day in between,' Tim Neligan, the managing director of United Racecourses, said. 'With all the services in place, it makes no sense at this stage to drop the Thursday, although it may be viewed as a prelude to the time when there will be a three-day weekend Derby meeting.'