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Last weekend in the AFL we saw the second annual game played in China between Port Adelaide and Gold Coast. The reason for this is to grow new audiences for Australian Rules Football, so it can be played and watched on a bigger scale around the globe. This project is going to need at least 5-10 years to build momentum and give it the necessary time to determine whether it’s worth pursuing any further. Based on crowd figures and community engagement levels, the AFL is working from quite a low base, which is often the scenario when trying to engage a new group of people. Similarly, the expansion clubs of Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast have received many favours and funding to establish a stronger presence in traditional non-AFL states, once again in the name of attracting new fans.
Horse Racing, more than ever, needs to attract new fans and participants to our wonderful industry. The 18-35 year-old demographic in Australia has traditionally always transitioning into wagering, ownership, etc. however today this age group is betting into sports rather than racing, and are currently less likely to be exposed to avenues that can lead to ownership and participation. Unlike sports, racing needs the punting dollar to provide prize money, which in turn funds the industry.
So, we’ve established the importance of new audiences, and the challenges that comes with it. The solution? There is no one single thing, but rather a deep awareness of what’s required to produce a multi-pronged attack on micro and macro levels. Meaningful engagement that will attract, retain and grow the next generation into various segments of the industry, whilst not isolating the core audience, is the name of the game.
One new innovation on a large scale event attempting to achieve some of these goals is The Everest. Given the abovementioned examples of the difficulties and timeliness of engaging new audiences, the key performance indicators of this race in year one (2017) can only be described as exceptional. Held in October last year on the same day as Caulfield Guineas Day in Melbourne (another topic in itself) The Everest attracted the biggest crowd in Sydney since the turn of the century. It also became the second biggest betting race in Australia, in year one, second only to the Melbourne Cup. Furthermore, the media attention it created in Sydney was unprecedented, laying the foundation for growth in 2018 and beyond.
The ‘event’ aspect of The Everest serves as a foyer to racing’s hotel. Come in, have a look around, take a seat at the bar and get a feel for things. Hopefully you like it enough to stay.
The role of syndicators/managing owners is an important one for new participants (perhaps we are the Concierge in the Hotel!). While The Everest is very much large scale and loud, our role requires interaction on a much more personal level, with a responsibility to introduce and welcome others into the racing environment. At JHBS we make a point of putting on events and creating days where people at all levels of experience can join us, meet others, ask questions, and get a behind the scenes look into racing. Not to mention, for those who take up ownership, to give you the best possible experience and put you in the winner’s circle!
And who knows, there might just be a JHBS filly worthy of an Everest slot in years to come!