Never send a boy to do a man’s job nor lumber over to the old boys racing well and haul in another plodder for something long overdue- the ability to create a new era for Perth racing-and racing in Western Australia- that sometimes comes across to some as the Rodney Dangerfield of Australian racing.
Enter Englishman James Oldring, below, the relatively new CEO of Perth Racing and- ring-a-ding ding- it’s made a world of difference to the image of horse racing in Perth along with that indescribable something needed to motivate and rejuvenate the troops- and racing fans.
With his experience working for the British Horse Racing Authority and Great British Racing International, where he played an integral role in establishing the successful British Champions Series, the work that Oldring and his team put into making the inaugural running of Western Australia’s first slots race- the AUS$4m Quokka- a resounding success was hard to miss.
There was a real community spirit and pride of ownership to the buildup of Saturday’s race day where there was fluid engagement between the jockeys, the on course hosts and the thousands at Ascot racecourse. Simply put, it was good vibes built around a memorable day of highly competitive and enjoyable racing. With the masterful Darren McCauley calling the races, the Quokka went the way of the Bjorn Baker trained and Josh Parr ridden Eastern raider Overpass for the colourful Ram Racing Syndicate.
Having said this, and not to take anything away from the winner, there was the amazing run by runner up and Perth’s pinup filly Amelia’s Jewel.
Amelia’s Jewel might not have won, but she didn’t lose either, and is certainly going to go on to win her share of big races outside of Western Australia-perhaps even overseas. Time will tell. The legacy of Amelia’s Jewel is going to be that here’s the filly who’s put racing in WA on the map along with her trainer and jockey combination of Simon Miller and Patrick Carberry, respectively and owner Peter Walsh.
There’s an emotional attachment between her and Perth’s racing fans and her story is making the rounds- virally.
Having seen the potential, first hand, some years ago for racing in Perth to be a lifestyle experience for a younger demographic when the city hosted the OneMovement Music Festival, and which I saw as a perfect fit with the Happy Wednesday brand I had started working on in Hong Kong- unfortunately, OneMovement didn’t have the legs to go the distance- it’s been a long wait to see someone move those chess pieces forward.
With its convenient location and with no time difference with Hong Kong, there was so much that could have been done back then for Perth racing to attract a younger and more fashionable racing product other than slots and sloths, big prize money and reviving the Neil Diamond catalogue.
If horse racing worldwide is looking dated these days to those “younger people” who, in the new abnormal, are trying to understand what works best for them, the entertainment fare served up in the form of horse racing in Perth on Saturday was a glimpse into everything else that can be achieved.
To do this, however, there’s the need for a different mindset, perhaps a specialised team that embraces new technology marketing and truly understands today’s global audience and where they connect in the online world- and the sponsorship opportunities for horse racing that might be hiding there. It’s not going to be easy. It’s also not going to happen by regurgitating marketing and promotional activities that might have been relevant around three decades ago.
After all, yesterday’s thirty year old might be sixty today. And where there was a thirty year old back then, there’s now a very different thirty year old with a totally new set of priorities and values. How well do you know them and want to know them?
How much better can they know your product by having it break free from lazily resorting to another serving of warmed up formulaic corporate waffles from back in the day?
There’s been a changing of the guard and not only at Buckingham Palace.
It’s forcing every business to look at the sustainability of its core business model while looking to those who see new business streams not thought of before and which should come on stream as there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.