HEREFORD Racecourse’s new general manager Camilla Esling is hoping to build on the venue’s strengths to help attract a fresh audience.

Esling – who recently stepped into the shoes vacated by Rebecca Davies – has spent six years as Hereford’s operations executive and has also been working at Worcester Racecourse.

“We're a classic country racecourse and we want to provide the same great experience for the seasoned racegoer as for someone who is completely new to racing,” said former amateur eventer Esling. 

“We want them both to feel they can come here and get something very rewarding for them, personally. We are lucky because Hereford is such a good viewing course and it's also compact. You can come in and everything is there in front of you with not far to get to anything.  

“As soon as you come in, the parade ring is straight in front of you. So, it really does feel like the horses are at the centre of what we do.  

“And then it’s not just the view of racing on the track, we’ve got these wonderful views towards Hereford Cathedral and the Black Mountains. I do get regular feedback from people who are very pleasantly surprised, they didn't know this green space still exists in the middle of Hereford.” 

Hereford offers jump racing from October to April with its right-handed squarish course with a 300-yard run-in.

After the re-opening of the course six years ago progress was stalled when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, but over the last couple of years improved facilities have started to bring in an increased crowd. 

The course continues to find ways in a difficult economic climate to be sustainable throughout the year. 

“We were hitting our stride again when Covid knocked everyone back and in a sense there was a period afterwards of getting to know our audience again,” added Esling. 

“All businesses have also had to work hard to regain people’s trust and then on top of that there has been the cost-of-living crisis. People are spending their money on something they really value, rather than something a bit more frivolous.

“So, we have worked really hard – and we’ll continue to do this – to put on race days that suit the avid racegoer, but also appeal to new audiences. 

“The feature race days are good ways of bringing in new people, such as our Christmas Jumper Raceday, we’ve got our re-arranged Ladies Day on March 24, and coming up is our Family Fun Day to end the season on April 6.” 

In addition to the racing the racecourse also hosts summer events and conferencing, such a food festivals, a Hereford Pride event in June and other corporate days held at the course.