As a 15 year old girl, I think I would have some experience on how to get a new generation interested in horse racing. I’m not from a horse racing background, some of my first experiences coming from watching the Grand National on the TV with my Granddad, who was mildly interested in racing. Over the years my love of racing has blossomed, and hopefully has turned into something I can make a career through. So how did I first get interested in horse racing?
The first horse I remember watching about was Black Caviar.
I was channel skimming, when I reached At The Races, who were streaming a documentary about Black Caviar’s attempt to win at Royal Ascot. Automatically I was hooked. I kept my Grandparents updated, and my eyes were opened to a whole new experience of racing-flat racing.
Now, I’m not suggesting we need another Black Caviar type (although Winx and Enable are on the prowl). I don’t think another type like Black Caviar would amass the same interest as she did in me. So what options are there to get younger children into racing?
The first thing I would suggest is to avoid controversy as best as it can be. Avoiding drugs scandals, avoiding betting scandals. All of this can only help but push people away from the sport, with people assuming this is what every aspect of horse racing is like. I do understand that it is not always avoidable, but we should try our best to keep horse racing in the limelight in a positive way- not for jockeys being in the midst of drug scandals.
Secondly, I would try to turn the public’s idea of racing around. I know that when I was first getting into racing I had to convince all of my friends that how they viewed the sport was wrong. Why don’t we try something like using a retired horse like they do in Australia, with Subzero. Bring the racing to schools. This is mildly being used in the UK but not to the extent it should be. I also feel like some people are turned away by the idea that racing is all about gambling, which I think should at least be partly turned around.
As a racing fan, something I usually enjoy is feeling like I’m part of the experience. Wether that’s through an account that’s interactive with fans (much like the Fergal O’Brien Twitter page) or through giveaways and competitions (like the Winstar Farm Twitter page). This gives more people a chance to feel as though they are a part of something bigger, a part of racing as a whole.
My final point is using social media to our advantage. Maybe by creating a kids version of websites, which can be accessible through school, (I find most racing websites are filtered because of their inclusion of ‘gambling’) or through a Youtube channel with vlogs or visits to racecourses on days out from the view of young people (we are up for making this happen). I must applaud the work of Great British Racing throughout their Stirrup Summer campaign, as I found it was a great way to get younger people into the sport.
This website was made for a similar purpose. So a younger audience can have access to their own version of a racing magazine/blog, without the negativity or need for gambling talk. Hopefully somewhere this is noticed and our points are taken into account, because I feel like some schemes like the mentioned above would drastically help the sport out.