THERE are countless opinion pieces, articles, letters and comments lamenting the small or non-existent crowds at racing events in SA and offering well-meaning advice or criticism, writes ANGUS CAMPBELL.
Those who love racing long for the good old days and spend their time wishing and planning for those days to return.
Those days will never return. The past is the past. Holding on and wishing for history to repeat itself is for fools. The options are radical change and revolution or extinction. Simple.
The 3 reasons why horse racing events in SA are dead or dying:
-Many in the racing fraternity are passionately negative about their own sport and all those who run it. The public, sponsors, investors and anyone outside of racing can observe this because these struggles are played out online and not behind closed doors. Why would any of these want anything to do with an entity that hates itself?
-The myopic mind set of racing and racing event organizers and operators are killing the sport. They compete with each other by fighting for an increasingly small market instead of understanding that their competition are other sports, events outside racing, TV, the internet and social media, gaming and many other new attractions.
-Lack of innovation in racing itself. Racing has introduced some new elements but at its core, it has not changed or experienced any innovation and it has been left behind as the rest of the world has moved on rapidly.
Missing from this list are government and politics, equine flu, strikes, the economy and finance, and a host of other issues. Every business and sport has to deal with problems and obstacles so these come with the territory but they cannot be blamed for the malaise that afflicts the sport.
Of the 3 reasons listed above, it is the need for something radically new and innovative that must be addressed. Small fixes aren’t going to work – racing in SA and around the world needs a dramatic change.
It needs a big solution. Most importantly it needs something exciting that people can believe in. With Equinity we have created something we have built specifically to attract a whole new audience to racing. It is very eclectic, quite off the wall, and built around night time horse racing.
It also happens to be one of the fastest growing racing events in the country (if not THE fastest) and along with the Summer Cup has made Turffontein a pretty busy place in November. We did this by questioning the way things have always been done and by consistently implementing innovative ideas.
Equinity’s love for racing lies at the heart of everything they do. To innovate and push for change, to move the sport forward into a new era. They started by scrutinizing every aspect of horseracing. Questioning every long-held belief and challenging every norm in order to create an experience unlike any other. But never forgetting what it’s ultimately about. Horseracing.
More specifically, night-time horse racing. Night-time horseracing had been introduced a number of years before but had not attracted the audience organizers had hoped for. This proved to be the perfect challenge
for Equinity. An opportunity to celebrate the power, beauty and presence of these magnificent creatures under lights and thereby change the dynamic of the sport forever. They like to call it Reality Racing.
With multiple cameras mounted along the race track, together with drones, Equinity is the first and only event to provide guests with three different views of each race at the same time. All projected onto massive screens in the Equinity hospitality areas. And then there’s the performances. Each original-themed event combines artists, dancers and performers with lighting and music to create a provocative, multisensory symphony of emotion.
Equinity has not been alone on its journey to reimagine the sport. For 2019, they’ve partnered with the Racing Association for the Jockey’s International Challenge that will see a team of South Africa’s best rider’s pit their talents against a team of legendary international jockeys.
Tellytrack also joined this racing revolution, bringing a refreshing willingness to try new things. They provide the state-of-art technology used at the events to broadcast the races and their experienced crew integrate footage from the drones that provides the state-of-art technology used at the events to broadcast the races and their experienced crew integrate footage from the drones that provides an enthralling new perspective to experiencing a horse race.
Equinity’s relentless spirit of innovation shows no sign of letting up any time soon with several new ideas in the pipeline. None more so than short format racing. This year, the idea is to incorporate two 800 metre races with quicker turn-around times to ramp up the excitement.
To the team at Equinity though, it’s all part of the plan to attract a massive new audience to the sport of racing. Of course, racing needs more than the sexy glitz of Equinity or the slow persistent growth of the Gauteng Summer Cup. It needs something radical to attract a massive new audience to racing. It must ignite a passion into every part of the sport. There’s talk of hosting a T20-styled team-based racing event in the near future.
Equinity hits Johannesburg on Saturday 16 November 2019 at the Jockey’s International Challenge at Turffontein Racecourse from 3pm.