Fresh angles to improve racing addressed at 36th Asian Racing Conference

The final business session of the 36th Asian Racing Conference in Mumbai brought to light several fresh angles taken by racing organizations and partners around the world, chaired by Henry Birtles of sports media consultancy and media rights distributor HBA. “With the cooperation of the VRC and Channel 7 Australia, HBA conceived and delivered a one-hour special for the Melbourne Cup,” Mr. Birtles explained, “specifically designed for non-racing audiences, the unconverted, the people our sport needs.”

Marie May Dangol, Racing Administration and International Affairs Manager, Macau Jockey Club, described the Club’s efforts to innovate for horse buyers, partnering with Australasian sales companies to bringing their live auctions direct to Macau horse buyers opportunities for horse buyers. “The bidding process is just as if our audience is at the sale ring in Australia or New Zealand,” said Ms. Dangol. “Specialized equipment allows for live, no-delay streaming, high definition audio and video of the sales arena to our racecourse.”

When a Macau-based owner buys a horse, of which 75 have been purchased via this new method over the last two years, the Macau Jockey Club takes over, arranging pre-training, quarantine and freight. Pre-sale veterinary information is made available to owners, including radiographs prepared by the Club’s veterinary team.

“Hopefully we can include sales from other jurisdictions of the world in the near future.”

The industry reached directly to interested innovators in a unique competition recently arranged by the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. Program Director Doug Reed discussed the new project, known as the Innovators’ Circle, as “racing’s first pitch competition” in an effort to source ideas from entrepreneurs focusing on modern methods to better elements of the sport. A total of 89 submissions from five continents were judged in December at the university’s annual Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming, with Australia-based Six Faces, an interactive wagering company, landing a US$15,000 prize for their entry titled “Swopstakes.”

“Ideas submitted included equine related safety and ownership items, fantasy sports-like entertainment, new wagers, technologies connected to handicapping contests and education, while others covered marketing, promotions and facilities enhancements,” said Mr. Reed. “Many tried to solve problems associated with making racing easier to understand.”

“Looking forward to 2016, we plan to open the next edition of the contest for six months instead of six weeks, gain added sponsorship, including those outside of racing, to gain broader exposure.”

“We’ve seen this type of pitch competition produce results in other industries,” Mr. Reed added, “but there is no one ‘silver bullet’ that is going to cure racing. There are a lot of good ideas out there.”