Category: Horse Racing

Flemington Carnival Sees Decline In Attendance

logo-mccThe Melbourne Cup Carnival is over for another year. The celebrities, the fashion, the marquees are all gone till 2014. While most the media’s attention shone a spotlight on these areas, the public area was where the real story was.

The attendance for the 4 days was down by approximately 20,000 from last year. Each day suffered a decline on last year. What is most harrowing is Oaks Day attendance has fallen roughly 40% in the last 9 years. The capping of numbers at Derby and Cup Day were not needed, with the days not reaching the 100,000 and 110,000 attendances respectively.

While it’s easy to just quote numbers, it is pointless without trying to find ways on why the attendance is in decline, and how it can be improved.

Are ticket prices too high? Only Stakes Day has increased steadily since 2004, and this is the cheapest day. With finding an outfit, food and drink, betting and transport it can become a very costly day.

Was weather a factor? Was there other entertainment options? The Victorian Racing Club (VRC) will have a look at all these factors to determine what, if anything, needs to be changed.

While it hasn’t hit panic stations yet, it definitely is something that needs to be addressed. The perception of these days are that they are full of young people only wanting to get drunk and run amok. This keeps the racing purists away. However, if the young people don’t attend, then who will?

Going back to the point of Oaks Day, I feel that the connect between ‘Ladie’s Day’ and Oaks has been lost. Historically it was seen as the day when women would come to the races, picnic in hand, and revel in the fashion and fun. Now it is seen as the forgotten day, wedged between the weekends and the big race. THE VRC’s campaign to convince your boss to let you have the day off was good, albeit it a little too late.

As previously mentioned, the cost is a huge factor, especially when the alternate options are much cheaper. An issue that racing clubs have had previously is that they only see other sport as competition to their product. This is untrue. Days like these are about the entertainment and socialising. Thus, other entertainment options must be seen as competition. This could include going to the movies or going to a nightclub. When clubs start to assess these, they can work out on how to better improve their experience. What do the 25-35 years old want from the day? How can they shape the day for the next generation of racegoers?

Marquee Madness! What Celebrities Get Paid To Appear At The Spring Carnival

Mel B inside the Lavazza marquee.
Mel B inside the Lavazza marquee.

It’s that time of year again when all eyes are glued on Flemington for the Melbourne Cup Carnival. The 4 days showcase some of the best horse racing in the world, but it’s also what happens off the track that piques the public’s interest.

The marquees, the celebrities, the fashion; They all play a huge part of the carnival. Companies spend large amounts of money for prime real estate on ‘Millionaries Row’, the place to be at the track. However, they spend a lot more on fitting out the marquee’s themselves. At this years carnival, coffee company Lavazza has constructed a 3 story masterpiece with sounds by DJ Roger Sanchez, while champagne company G.h. Mumm’s lavish marquee is serving $700 bottles of bubbly. Each year, marquees aim to out do each other with exquisite menus designed by world renowned chefs and mixologists (who are often flown in), while attracting the most popular celebrities available. However, these come at a cost.

It is a common myth that the racing club pays for the celebrities to attend the carnival. This

A rendering of the inside of Lexus' marquee this year.
A rendering of the inside of Lexus’ marquee this year.

is untrue. It’s the companies behind the marquees, and they pay big.

At 2011’s carnival Sex and the City actress Sarah Jessica Parker made an appearance in the Crown marquee. While no figure was released, industry analysts suggested a figure of around $250,000, not including incidentals, transport and accommodation. For that price, Sarah appeared on Oaks Day and did some press for her new film (where she mentioned Crown). It is highly likely she appeared at another function run by Crown as well. The result is her photo beamed around the world appearing in countless magazines standing behind the company’s logo. It’s all about the PR. Kim Kardashian famously pulled out of her appearance at the Swisse Marquee the same year, which probably generated more press than had she actually honored her attendance. Figures of $150,000 were quoted for her appearance, though the company claims it was much less. Kim said she would appear for the company at a later date.

At this year’s carnival, the hottest celebrity to grace the carnival is supermodel Naomi Campbell. Paid a reported $60,000 by Lexus, she appeared in their marquee on Derby Day, and is scheduled to appear at the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday. Former Spice Girl Mel B (Scary Spice) is back in Melbourne for Lavazza, who also paid a reported $60,000 for her presence. Mel tweeted to her 800,000+ followers how much fun she is having in the marquee, sending out a photo of her standing in front of the company’s billboard. That is what Lavazza are paying for, and it would not surprise me if that was part of the deal.

Other celebrities making an appearance this year include former The Hills’ stars Brody Jenner and Whitney Port (both appearing in the Lavazza marquee), Sports Illustrated cover girl Kate Upton and burlesque dancer Dita Von Tesse. While these celebrities won’t command a fee as high as Naomi and Mel B, they would still be compensated significantly for their appearances. A fee ranging between $10,000-$30,000 would be paid for their services, plus incidentals.

You may wonder about former Miss Australia Jennifer Hawkins, as she is always seen in the Myer marquee. Jennifer has an overall deal with Myer, and an appearance in the marquee would be part of that.

The carnival is all about being seen, giving these brands an opportunity to dominate the social pages. Tickets cannot be bought, so the PR teams of Australia’s lesser known celebrities will be working around the clock in hopes their clients will snare a ticket. If their is a bidding war for a local star then they may command a small fee, though usually they attend to raise their own profile. Celebrities are secured a long time out from the carnival, with marketing teams working their plans around their presence come November.

Want To Buy A Horse Racing On Cox Plate Day? Here Is Your Chance

554974-moonee-valleyEverybody dreams of racing a horse during the Spring Carnival. The lure of brushing shoulders with celebrities is great, not to mention the prize money isn’t too shabby either.

Well now is your chance. Instead of investing time and effort in the prospect that a horse may one day reach these lofty heights, you can purchase one today which will run this Saturday.

The first race on Cox Plate Day is the Inglis Banner, a $250,000 race which is restricted to horses who have been sold through Inglis Bloodstock. The race is for 2 year olds, with the majority of the field having never raced before.

Enter Japanese Slipper, a 2 yo filly which can be yours for just $33,000. To put that in perspective, the prize money for the winner on Saturday is $150,000.  Even if the horse finishes 2nd, it will collect a cheque for $45,000.

The horse has had one trial, in which it finished 6th out of a field of 9. While horses are incredibly unpredictable, especially at such a young age, having a horse running at this level is something may racehorse owners could only dream of. Owners may spend ten times this amount and never experience a day like this.

The horse is listed for sale here.