The Roar
The Roar



The Everest is symptomatic of racing’s climb to nowhere

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26th October, 2022

Was the Everest really the second coming of young ‘racing fans’, as Peter V’Landys and his merry band of media spruikers would suggest? Or was it a display of what young people consider socially acceptable in 2022? A well-publicised rave party always attracts a crowd.

Around the time of the 2018 Opera House marketing ‘fiasco’ – some like Peter V’Landys say it was a cunning stunt – the Australian Turf Club head of marketing Chris Bevan told AdNews, “We thought if it’s the Everest that’s capturing the attention of a potential new racegoer, then we’ve got the opportunity to push to him or her to a myriad of other top-class race days”.

It was a good idea, but no-one converted to the racing ‘church’ in the non-COVID years. According to Bevan, the ‘once-a-year racegoer’ – 1.2 times a year, to be precise – was the predominant ‘fan’ profile in Sydney. It still is.

NSW Racing has failed to move these Everest 18 to 40-year-olds along the marketing funnel, being stuck somewhere between ‘Interest’ and ‘party’ – or interest and ‘consideration’ in the real model.

Conversion? That’s in the delusion funnel.

This was perhaps well illustrated in many of the published photos from the 2022 Everest. These photos suggested most of the younger generation were down enjoying the mosh pit on the lawns and dancing in the bars, not the traditional arenas of racing. Was it telling that Sweet Caroline, a song that had nothing to do with horses, was what got this young crowd going?

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

It also wasn’t the 18 to 40-year-olds snapped admiring horse flesh in the Theatre of the Horse. Perhaps ATC racing officials didn’t bother to tell them about it – after all, the smell of horse manure is not what most young people would associate with a rave party. You certainly don’t want to dance in it.


Putting egos aside, perhaps what the Everest and other heavily promoted racing events – such as the All-Star Mile and the Melbourne Cup carnival – have shown us most of all is that racing is only socially acceptable on a broader scale when it is dressed up as something else.

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

I have almost been deafened by racing administrators’ talk of racing as a product, no longer as a sport. Are racing posts of the future simply going to talk about who puts on the best rave?

The thing about this potential future is that history shows products have life cycles – and so do rave parties. You can only rebadge them so many times. What then?

In today’s more social justice-aware 18 to 40-year-old cohort I expect it is more acceptable to talk about attendance at a party than a race meeting where horses got whipped into a frenzy.

Perhaps what the generation X and Y cohort who attended Randwick are actually telling us is that they’ll only re-engage with racing as a sport when racing executives suck up their egos and fix the sport rather than dress the window in an attempt to deflect or obfuscate society’s concerns about the industry.

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