HOW do we grow racing? How do we get the crowds back to racing events and how do we attract new investors and sponsors? asks ANGUS CAMPBELL.

There are more questions I could pose: How do we transform racing and get black businesses and individuals involved and how do we gain the backing of government? How do we entice a younger market to racing? How should we engage with the emerging black market who are obviously key to the future of racing in SA?

For almost 10 years we (Campbell + Campbell) have been building and investing in horseracing events in Gauteng and this is what we believe: financial support, investment, transformation, and growth are not going to happen unless there is radical change. That goes without saying.

However, those who love the sport and who live and breathe racing seem reluctant to consider changing the format of racing events. We have brought thousands of new people to our racing events and this is their feedback; the sport is too complicated, it takes too long and it is not entertaining (and when the entertainment is added on like parties etc. racing purists complain bitterly).

Everyone knows; the large, and primarily black, audience who attend the July and the Summer Cup are not coming for the racing but for the fashion, parties, and networking.

To attract, build and engage a new racing audience requires something new. Something that addresses the problem directly – getting those who attend for the fashion and parties to begin to take an interest in the horses and jockeys. How do we create thousands of new racing fans and build racing so that it can compete with soccer, rugby, and cricket as it did in the past? These are 8 reasons why SA horseracing needs T8 Racing:

T8 Racing is:

Easy to understand
In the same way T20 simplifies cricket, T8 Racing makes horse racing accessible to a new market through its basic format. It is team based and fans support their teams. They know the team name and colours, and which jockeys and horses are on their team. The races are a standard distance and a point scoring system makes it easy to see who is winning and losing. Standardised short format racing is fast paced and shorter than a traditional racing event. Races happen every 12 to 15 minutes and the racing is completed in 2 hours – perfect for live TV, streaming etc.

Entertaining T8 Racing is built to entertain
Spectators are right on the track – on both sides. Team owners’, fans, and celebs etc are clearly visible. Performers and AV provide a half time spectacle (all controlled so horses are never stressed). Most importantly, the fun and games are used to highlight the racing.

Horse focused
T8 Racing addresses the number one concern of a young digital audience – animal welfare. Whips are for control and safety and never for encouragement. Horses are always heroes and the centre of attention at T8 Racing.

Until the racing fraternity start to understand how young people view animals and the environment, they will never work out how to attract this market to racing. It does not matter how many times you hit the horse or if it hurts, what matters is what millions of potential young fans think and feel about it. What is for certain is that they will not be indifferent on this issue, they will either fight for the sport or against it on all the digital platforms they use. Most NB, they will make up their minds depending on how they feel about it not based on rational arguments (passion on social media is not driven by facts).

Fan focused
Many racing stadiums in SA have either been sold or closed while the few still left stage meetings which are virtually empty with a few exceptions during the year. T8 Racing completely changes the live racing experience but, just as importantly, brings that experience to life on any platform that fans choose. Sports fans have changed how they view and enjoy live sporting events and T8 Racing embraces these adaptions because without them there will be no future racing. Ironically, a way to get people back on track is through using the many streaming and digital platforms available which sports around the world have adopted to appeal to new fans.

Powered by technology and innovation
T8 Racing is built around new technology and has innovation built into its DNA. This is to relentlessly improve fan engagement and compete from a business and entertainment aspect in a continually changing world. That means, being prepared to change how races are filmed and broadcast, understanding how technology can be used to heighten every element of the experience, and using data to understand elements through-out the business.

Designed to attract new investors
T8 Racing teams are designed to attract new money. They are simple vehicles. T8 Racing provide the horses, the jockeys, and the races. Team Principals/Owners then have naming rights for their teams, they have their own sponsors, celebs, brands, fans etc. The team belongs to them. And if that seems like the IPL or Formula 1 that is because it is! That is how modern sports work because team ownership means dedicated fans and sponsors, corporate backing, merchandising, hospitality, and a host of other revenue streams.

A platform for racing businesses to grow
By working with team owners and investors from outside traditional racing circles, T8 Racing is designed to be a platform for breeding and sales companies to sell to an entirely new market. Black entrepreneurs and businesses will invest in teams and T8 Racing if the financial and brand ROI is worthwhile. They have access and influence in the key markets that racing businesses want to sell to. Pairing racing entities with businesses who talk directly to the emerging and affluent black market is key to growing the business of racing in SA.

Focused on keeping betting with horseracing
One major advantage that horseracing has, is that it has always be associated with betting. Other sports are now attempting to gain a slice of the betting market. T8 Racing is a weapon in the fight to keep betting revenue with racing. Teams are encouraged to partner with a betting company of their choice and T8 Racing will promote those companies who invest their profits into racing. – Angus Campbell is owner of Campbell + Campbell. He can be reached on angus@campbellandcampbell.co.za.

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