Equestrian events have once again dominated the top UK sporting occasions— filling five of the top 10 places.

Of the total 69.8 million tickets sold for sporting events last year, 7.4 million were for racing and other equestrian events.

Badminton, Burghley, the Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby all made the top 10.

This puts horse sport second only to football as the UK’s most-attended professional sporting events.

While overall attendance of all sports was down slightly on 2015, this year was the third strongest this century in terms of live sport appearances.

Unsurprisingly, 2012 is out in front with 75 million while 2015 — which was boosted by England hosting the Rugby World Cup — is in second with just over 70 million.

Although the total attendance at ticketed equestrian events was down around 200,000 according to these figures, four out of the top five all had notable increases year on year.

The most significant of these were Badminton and the Cheltenham Festival, which both had 13,000 more visitors pass through their gates this year than in 2015.

“Events such as the Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot and Epsom Derby are some of the highlights in the UK’s sporting calendar, and this is reflected by their continued presence in the top ten,” said Alan Switzer, director of the Deloitte sports business group, which collated the figures.

“The enhanced exposure likely to be brought about by horseracing’s move to ITV next year should build further interest in the sport and help cement its place as the UK’s second most popular sport in terms of attendances.”

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He also credited the Olympic effect as having played a part in the boost for attendance at British sporting events this year.

“Despite being nearly 6,000 miles away, the feel-good factor brought about by Team GB’s historic performance at Rio 2016 — their most successful overseas Olympic Games ever — has once again demonstrated the power of sport,” added Mr Switzer.

“Such events drive interest in live sport, and the industry is in great health as consumers continue to choose to spend their leisure time and money on attending sports events.”
The top-10 for 2016 are as follows:

  1. Wimbledon — 494,000
  2. Formula 1 (Silverstone) — 327,000
  3. Royal Ascot — 295,000
  4. Cheltenham Festival — 261,000
  5. ATP World Tour Finals — 252,000
  6. The Open [golf] — 173,000
  7. Badminton Horse Trials — 160,000
  8. MotoGP (Silverstone) — 156,000
  9. Burghley Horse Trials — 155,000
  10. Epsom Derby Festival — 154,000