Everest is symptomatic of the ascent of the race to nowhere


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Was Everest really the second coming of young “racing fanatics”, as Peter V’Landys and his merry band of media buffs would suggest? Or was it a demonstration of what young people consider socially acceptable in 2022? A well-publicized rave party always attracts people.

At the time of the 2018 Opera House marketing ‘fiasco’ – some like Peter V’Landys say it was a cunning stunt – Australian Turf Club marketing manager Chris Bevan said AdNews“We felt that if it’s Everest that captures the attention of a potential new runner, then we have the opportunity to push them to myriad other high profile race days.”

It was a good idea, but no one has converted to running “church” in non-COVID years. According to Bevan, the “once a year race goer” – 1.2 times a year, to be precise – was the predominant “fan” profile in Sydney. It’s always like that.

NSW Racing failed to move this Everest 18-40 year old down the marketing funnel, being stuck somewhere between ‘interest’ and ‘celebration’ – or interest and ‘consideration’ in the real model .

Conversion? It’s in the funnel of illusion.

This may have been well illustrated in many published photos of Everest 2022. These photos suggested that most of the younger generations were enjoying the mosh pit on the lawns and dancing in the bars, not the traditional racing arenas. Was it to say that My dear Carolinea song that had nothing to do with horses, is that what thrilled this young audience?

They certainly weren’t there trying to reach out and touch a horse.

Nor were it the 18 to 40 year olds who admired horse flesh at the Théâtre du Cheval. Maybe the ATC race officials didn’t bother to tell them about it — after all, the smell of horse manure isn’t what most youngsters would associate with a rave party. You definitely don’t want to dance in it.

Ego aside, perhaps what Everest and other heavily promoted running events – such as the All-Star Mile and the Melbourne Cup carnival – have mostly shown us is that running is only socially acceptable on a larger scale when dressed up. like something else.

After all, why would supposed racing fans spend all day in a car park on the course or in a corporate tent at the Melbourne Cup without a racehorse in sight?

I was almost deafened by the racing administrators’ talk of running as a product, not a sport anymore. Will racing messages of the future just be about who does the best rave?

The thing about this potential future is that history shows that products have life cycles – just like rave parties. You can only rebadge them a certain number of times. Then what ?

In today’s more social justice-minded 18-40 cohort, I think it’s more acceptable to talk about attending a party than a race meeting where the horses have been whipped in a frenzy.

Perhaps what the cohort of Generations X and Y who attended Randwick is actually telling us is that they will only recommit to racing as a sport when racing leaders suck their egos and fix the sport rather than window dressing in an attempt to deflect or mask society’s concerns about the industry.

After all, it’s not just fringe fanatics who avoid going to the races more than 1.2 times a year.


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