Monday, 22nd November
In Australia Harness Racing lives in a tough, competitive market for the general entertainment audience and also the expert racing audience.
Harness Racing like all racing codes is so dependant on its share of the gambling dollar - particularly the off-course gambling dollar.
It competes not only with its traditional rivals - the gallopers and the greyhounds, but now with the increasing number of casinos and hotel and club poker machine operations - plus as we heard yesterday, the emerging challenge of off shore internet betting.
The first harness race in Australia was here in Sydney at Paramatta in 1810.
The first Pacing Championship was at Elsternwick 10km outside Melbourne in 1883 - prizemoney was 500 sovereigns.
Sydney’s Harold Park originally called Forest Lodge and then Epping and then Harold Park was named after a trotter called Childe Harold which was born in Kentucky in 1871 and sold to Australia in 1882 for $7,875.
I mention these historical tit bits to remind you that harness racing has been in Australia for a long time - a history of battling, of ups and downs. In the media, the butt of many a knocking story. The stories about "The Red Hots" etc.
But one thing changed that - something that won the entertainment and the betting audience. Something that was easy to market and promote - racing under lights. When night betting was legalised for night racing, first in South Australian in 1934, Victoria in 1947 and New South Wales in 1949 - it became a new industry.
In the racing year just completed there were 130 clubs which conducted 1988 meetings which included 15,420 races and in those races there were 145,608 starters. They raced for total prizemoney of $61.627 million. The off-course betting turnover on those races was $1.3 billion. 6,383 licensed trainers prepared the horses and there were 4,950 licensed drivers available to drive them.
Last year the harness racing breeding industry saw 467 sires provide 9,891 services - there were 7,309 foalings and 4,569 horses named.
I mention these statistics to illustrate the size of the industry - a national industry in activity, in its rules, in its grand circuit racing - but not in its marketing and promotions.
Harness racing will have to fight hard to holds its share of the entertainment and gambling dollar.
Already we see the galloping code investing millions of dollars to move into night racing - for so long harness racing’s special market.
The challenge to the marketing and promotion of harness racing is to hold its share.
The industry depends so much on off-course betting that there has been a huge increase in the number of meetings - every week in every capital city and almost every other day and night in country centres.
To promote and market all meetings is impossible - and quite frankly I believe generic advertising of racing is of little value - unless it is a huge campaign.
So the promotion and marketing of harness racing must concentrate on the highlights - the special events - the Cups - the Carnivals , when the best horses and the best drivers are on show.
In a normal year the grand circuit in Australia ensures that occurs. Harold Park has its Miracle Mile, The Ben Hur and Chariots of Fire; Melbourne - The Victoria Cup, The Hunter Cup, Legends Mile, Dullard Cup etc.
These are the meetings when the full tempo of marketing and promotion brings people to the track to see and absorb the atmosphere of harness racing and to interest the gambling market to a level that will provide momentum throughout the year.
Every eight years the capital city in each state has the opportunity to host the Inter Dominion Pacing and Trotting Championships - Harness Racing’s Carnival of Champions.
In 2000 the Interdom will be in Melbourne - I’d like to show you a short video which tells something about the championship and some of the methods of marketing the five week event.
(VIDEO - Interdom presentation)
The word is out...
On the street....and at the track
In Australia, New Zealand and around the world
The word is Interdom
Tabcorp Interdom Melbourne 2000
The world's richest harness racing event
And the message is being spread far and wide by a marketing campaign to match that of any of the world's great sporting events - designed to fire the imagination a broad audience.
For this is entertainment for a new century
Grounded in tradition
Groundbreaking in approach
The culmination of 60 years of an Australasian tradition that has produced some of harness racing's greatest feats and an event that creates champions time will not forget.
And at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Melbourne - Australia's sporting heart - throws open the pages on a new era with a harness racing spectacle beyond parallel.
Here, the champions of harness will come to perform to crowds whose appetite for sporting tradition is legendary.
In one of the world's great sporting cities, where Olympians have risen to the heights, and racing of all kinds, from Phar Lap to Formula One, has always held centre stage.
Exactly half a century after Melbourne hosted its first Interdom in 1950.
Of course, the prizemoney was a little more modest then - 10,000 pounds - but it had one thing in common: it was a record amount ever offered for a harness racing event.
In Melbourne in January 2000, the contenders will be fighting for a series total of $3.735 million in stakemoney - an average of $83,000 for each of 45 races over five weeks - making Tabcorp Interdom Melbourne 2000 the richest harness racing event ever staged.
Harness Racing Victoria, the statutory body controlling harness racing in Victoria, has set out to celebrate a new century of Australasian harness racing in style - and just about everybody is coming to the party.
When the event was launched by the former Premier of Victoria, Mr Jeff Kennett, in March 1999, Harness Racing Victoria had already laid the ground for the widespread co-operation and support of government, business and community.
Support that had been built by a determined industry-wide effort to market harness racing to new audiences.
Tabcorp Interdom Melbourne 2000 reflects the success of a flourishing harness racing industry in Victoria that enjoys a sustained growth and continued financial health.
A breeding, training and racing industry that involves more than 40,000 people in Victoria alone, and provides enjoyment and entertainment for tens of thousands more.
And this growth in turnover and support has been achieved in an industry market that has been largely static.
But it hasn't happened overnight.
A determination to introduce new marketing and business development initiatives has driven much of Victorian harness racing's growth over the last five years.
This harness racing renaissance began with the introduction and promotion of the Summer Carnival in Victoria in 1997 and 1998, a harness racing feast incorporating some of Australia's hottest pacing and trotting events - the AG Hunter Cup, the Victoria Cup, the Australasian Trotters Championship and the Dullard Cup.
A carnival full of Cups to match the thoroughbreds in Spring.
Sponsorship for the event has already exceeded its original target by 25% - the product of a creative strategy that has ensured all potential sponsorship avenues are explored.
Even the new sprint lane has found enthusiastic corporate support, and is now aptly named the Australia Post Express Lane.
Tabcorp, Australia's biggest sports wagering and totalisator operation, were first to proclaim their faith in Interdom and are naming sponsor of both the event and the $1 million Tabcorp Interdom Pacers Final.
Other essential sponsorship funding has been secured from some of the country's biggest organisations including Australia's largest brewer Carlton and United, TEAC and Primus.
Such is the allure and prestige of Interdom that even the thoroughbred racing codes have secured a piece of the action.
Victoria's top three metropolitan thoroughbred racing clubs have all contributed sponsorship funding in return for race naming rights, representation and hospitality at the event.
All together, more than $1 million dollars in sponsorship funding has been achieved.
This unprecedented show of support has enabled Harness Racing Victoria to plan an Interdom championship guaranteed to thrill audiences.
And for the first time, pre-booking of tickets for a racing event has been made available to the public.
This pioneering move has been made possible by the involvement of the country's biggest event ticketing company, Ticketek.
Ticketek's telephone, Internet, and retail booking services for Tabcorp Interdom Melbourne 2000, offer instant access to reserved seating at the event for audiences throughout Australasia and the world.
Providing an innovative new marketing arm to sell Interdom to audiences from far and wide.
It is anticipated that pre-booked tickets and packages alone will account for about $1 million in Interdom sales.
Sales to audiences who have been the target of a major promotional and advertising campaign utilising both traditional and less conventional media.
This Summer Carnival, exploiting Melbourne's great love of midsummer night's entertainment, brought many to live harness racing who had never previously seen it in action before.
High impact television, radio and print campaigns delivered a message of excitement, and the people responded.
Launched with a highly successful summer party, families and younger audiences in particular welcomed the chance to enjoy the relaxed, yet action packed atmosphere. The annual Summer Carnival attracted more than 50,000 people to Moonee Valley racecourse.
Then, in the summer of 1999, record crowds thrilled to the Nights of Glory series, held over four consecutive Saturday nights.
And such nights they were.
A vibrant and energetic marketing campaign emphasised the romance and excitement of the Nights of Glory experience.
Even the King himself made a surprise appearance in honour of the event.
Sensational harness racing action featured throughout the series and record attendances were achieved.
The 1999 Nights of Glory series had built upon the success of the summer carnival, and it was clear that a new direction for the marketing of harness racing was being paved.
Providing the momentum for Melbourne's own Interdom.
Groundbreaking changes were taking place at the track as well.
At Moonee Valley in 1999 a new racing track was being precision-built for speed and safety, ready to host the cream of the world's trotting and pacing talent come January 2000.
Just under a thousand metres or 5/8th of a mile of world-class racetrack, including a superfast sprint lane that ensures thrilling contests over the final stretch, and justly rewards speed and skill.
But it is a combination of an innovative marketing approach and the support of a host of corporate and community organisations that is ensuring Tabcorp Interdom Melbourne 2000 will surpass all expectations.
In Melbourne, exterior advertising has been maximised to ensure that Interdom escapes no-one's attention - however they travel.
From November 1999, Melbourne's famous trams will carry the message throughout city streets adorned with flags and billboards.
And on Melbourne's busiest arterial road, the Tullamarine Freeway, huge signage space has been provided by the government, to trumpet the Interdom message to full effect.
Radio and print campaigns promote Tabcorp Interdom Melbourne 2000 as one of Melbourne's great sporting and entertainment events, while a remarkable space age television campaign propels harness racing well and truly into the next century.
The television advertising campaign utilises cutting edge animation and cinematic techniques to present a breathtaking vision of harness racing as entertainment for a new era.
Interdom on the Internet, the official event site at www.interdom2000.com.au, provides a one-stop online resource for all the latest Interdom news, history and bookings.
It is now attracting an enormous number of online visitors from around the world as Interdom draws close, tapping into the huge international interest in the event.
During January and February 2000, the web site will keep the world up to date on every aspect of Tabcorp Interdom Melbourne 2000 including instant results and rankings.
A huge range of consumer merchandise has also been produced to celebrate the event by Australia's premier racing clothing and merchandise company, Mitty's.
The total marketing spend of around $1 million for Tabcorp Interdom Melbourne 2000 is the biggest campaign ever mounted by the harness racing industry in Australia.
And its success is reflected in the mountain of bookings already taken for each of the five weeks of the event.
Over 80,000 people are expected to attend Interdom over five weeks, including more than 5000 international and interstate visitors.
The worldwide audience via television broadcasts and packaging is estimated to top 1 million.
Special Interdom hospitality packages have been made available, providing Interdom patrons with a tantalising range of dining and entertainment choices to ensure that their Interdom experience is nothing less than luxurious.
In a 30,000 person capacity venue offering the latest entertainment dining and wagering facilities and providing spectators, sponsors and participants with the best seats in the house.
And the view?
Spectacular, of course.
In another first for Australian racing, Harness Racing Victoria has restricted the sale of seats for the nights of the trotting and pacing finals to below venue capacity - ensuring that every Interdom fan gets a perfect, unimpeded view of one of harness racing's most impressive sights.
And who will have the Interdom's biggest trophies in their sights come the new millennium?
Throughout 1999, Harness Racing Victoria have sent deputations to all corners of the globe to attract the world's best racing talent, and over 300 entrants will compete over the five weeks. Ambassadors in Europe, Scandanavia and North America have stimulated serious interest from owners, trainers and drivers that will see future Interdom championships become a global contest.
And the competition within Australasia is fiercer than ever before.
Could the Ted Demmler driven Pats Sum, one of a new force of Australian trotters, stamp his mark on the new millennium by taking out the Ticketek Interdom Trotters Final?
Or can National Interest, the 1999 Interdom Consolation winner, tough it out against the crack New Zealanders Mountain Gold and Holmes D G to grab a place in the big league?
The pacing series also holds the promise of clashes to savour for years to come.
Can New Zealand's pintsized powerhouse Courage Under Fire build on its incredible unbeaten career record of 22 wins from 22 starts to take Interdom glory? Or will Christian Cullen return to his world beating form to wrest victory from the little champ's grasp?
But it will be no easy stroll to Interdom victory.
For the first time, the qualifying heats include some of Australia's most famous harness racing events, the $400,000 A.G Hunter Cup and the $250,000 Eat Well Live Well Victoria Cup.
And with the Ticketek Interdom Trotters Final offering a staggering half a million dollars there's plenty of incentive to perform for the crowd.
Not to be outdone, the Tabcorp Interdom Pacers Final presents a world record one million dollars as the ultimate reward for harness racing excellence.
For that sort of money, Interdom 2000 contenders such as New Zealand's devastating duo Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire could eat well for the next century or two.
What we can know for certain is that whoever claims victory in those final weeks of Tabcorp Interdom Melboure 2000 will do so in front of record crowds primed for a harness racing experience like no other.
(End of video presentation.)
That was the TV commercial which will be the main feature of the Interdom TV Advertising Campaign.
The commercial will have a conclusion which will change each week and be specific about the coming Saturday program - events, horses and drivers.
Of the total budget of 1 Million Dollars, $400,000 will be spent on television. Media activity will concentrate on six weeks of promoting the key events.
The campaign objectives are to:
- build the Interdom as an event of brightness, excitement and action
- increase on-course attendance for each of the Interdom events - particularly young people and newcomers to Harness Racing
- increase punter and public wagering
Our TV budget will be spread over two stations.
The two station buy will maximise the benefits in terms of:
- Increased reach
- Bonus support
- Editorial support
The buy gives us key TV spots across a variety of high rating programs. Channel 9 has also joined the Interdom as a race sponsor.
The TV Campaign will be supported by a $100,000 radio campaign across a number of stations to cover all demographics.
The Press Campaign has already stimulated pre bookings and the major press advertising will concentrate on the events - the horses and the drivers.
TV, Press and Radio will be supported by outdoor signage, posters, flags in city streets and brochures. All of which will absorb a budget of a million dollars.
Already the indications are that even the early advertising and promotion has been effective in achieving substantial pre bookings. Terry Henderson talked yesterday about the four "P’s" of marketing -
In Melbourne we believe that the Interdom - the event of Harness Racing will provide the momentum to lift Harness Racing to a new level of public acceptance.
VIDEO - INTERDOM COMMERCIAL