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Anthony MacDonald's Blog

 

Why What We Do From Here Is So Important

Published: June 19, 2018 9:03 am ET

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This time of year, I rarely find free time, except while waiting for flights.

I enjoy using this time to write clients, catch my breath and reflect on the direction of our industry. What improvements have been, or could be made? I usually end up explaining the role I see fractional ownership playing in the future of our industry. This is one of those times.

Earning money in this industry is tough. We all are very aware that horse racing needs to grow and expand as an industry. But how?

Fractional ownership's inclusiveness has proven to be a path back into the general public — a place in which racing desperately needs to exist. Models like thestable.ca have absolutely and unequivocally shown that reaching the mainstream is very possible.

Why? Because affordable racehorse ownership marketed as an entertainment product is financially unmatched in society. You cannot attend many mainstream sporting events for the costs attributed to fractional ownership in horse racing. And the first-person participation level makes our sport absolutely unique.

We have an exciting product to watch for any sports junkie, and the competitiveness and athleticism in that regard is almost unparalleled. The stories within this industry are dramatic and inspiring and we don't need to pretend to share the real, everyday challenges of our audience. We're real people, the same as them. This connection is immediate and honest and quickly establishes engagement.

One of the most critical components of welcoming new owners is the ability to appeal to many different demographics. This has been a real stumbling block for horse racing over the years. Fractional ownership has broken down those barriers and has proven that the fluidity, excitement, entertainment, and sheer exposure of what is provided for such a small financial investment can attract even the most selective investors. This small sampling of growth is accurate and real, but needs to be duplicated all over North America.

Yesterday, at our barn, we had a large crowd. Within a 10 metre radius, we had a 23-year-old, first-time owner with zero racing experience. Beside him was a small family with parents in their 40s who are also first-time owners. Next to them was a gentleman who came to buy shares in an Indiana trotting colt and some Ontario pacers. I asked if he had ever been licensed. He said yes, but his last horse ownership endeavor was 50 years ago!

This is the power of affordable ownership: a millennial newbie, a young family, and a former owner five decades removed, all standing shoulder to shoulder.

Not only are we re-engaging the people who built this game, but we're attracting substantial interest from people with absolutely no prior connection to horse racing. This proves that the entertainment value (completely separate from monetary ROI) inherently offered in horse racing is real and tangible. As we bolster our marketing and advertising in this direction, we'll see more people as diverse as the example illustrated above join our ownership ranks where they wouldn't have otherwise known the opportunity to own a racehorse ever existed.

Marketing and delivering the entertainment value of ownership in horse racing relinquishes the pressures of delivering a monetary return — the only model this industry has ever really deployed. Fractional ownership which emphasizes delivering an exceptional entertainment experience changes the currency. The focus shifts from an ROI of dollars and cents to an ROI of excitement, anticipation, communication, community and participation. This relieves the burden of pressure-cooker fiscal returns for trainers and stables and challenges them to market themselves in new and exciting ways.

Sure, we all want to win races, and make money. But, in the case of thestable.ca, we have a 93 per cent customer retention rate with 448 owners in 10 countries. As I post paraded in front of the grandstand at Woodbine Mohawk Park with Lawmaker (on Pepsi North America Cup Night), the roar from the crowd made it apparent where our clients were standing, clustered together in their own cheering section. For the most part, our clients are on-site every night their horses race. They often travel several hours, often crossing borders.

That's good news for us, a great experience for our clients, beneficial for the tracks where we race and also the surrounding businesses where clients will purchase accommodations, fuel, food, etc.

This model is simply great for horse racing.

For those of you who understand that the racing industry will need to meet/exceed growth benchmarks established by our government partners in the coming years (both in fan base and revenue), you should recognize that we need to explore all viable channels for growth.

For the trainers reading this, there are eight billion people on Earth and every one of them could be your next client, if you simply pursue them. For the tracks and affiliate casino operators, we can help you efficiently engage enthusiastic clients you could never affordably reach without us.

To the industry in general, which may feel we are rowing against the current: there is a way forward.

Just this week, thestable.ca has qualified 36 youngsters and raced in two stakes races. As I sit in Pearson Airport waiting for my plane to Chicago (to race two more horses tonight at Hawthorne) I've realized the one question I haven't been asked from any of our clients:

"How much money can we make?"

That says a lot about the affordable ownership model, what it's really selling, and the fine folks who are our clients at thestable.ca.

Affordable ownership is delivering the excitement of horse racing to the mainstream, and delivering the mainstream to the horse racing industry.


The views presented in Trot Blogs are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Standardbred Canada.


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