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Seconds Out: Oli Bell's Monthly Blog

Wednesday 19 July 2023
Seconds Out: Oli Bell's Monthly Blog

Hey everyone! Hope you’re all keeping well and are still riding high after the recent brilliant run of form from our boy Scampi. What. A. Dude!

In this month's blog I’m going to touch on the challenges racing is faced with in attracting a new audience. It’s something that I’m asked about a fair amount and something that at ITV we have always been very conscious of. I appreciate there are many challenges involved in the fight for attention – particularly in an era where short form content is seemingly king with the rise of Tik Tok, Instagram Reels, etc. The sad reality for me is that I used to be in meetings and on phone calls for people in their 20’s about how we can get my generation interested in the sport, sadly I don’t qualify as a youngster anymore but I would hope those conversations are still being undertaken with the next generation.

I think there are a few easy wins for getting people's attention and letting people catch the racing bug like we all have. On Saturday’s Opening Show we were joined by Charlie Fellowes who, as well as his ‘day job’ of training racehorses, is also chairman of the Henry Cecil Newmarket Open Weekend. When speaking to him about the weekend and its benefits, it was very apparent that getting the public into the stables to see the horses and see the inner workings of a racing yard was key in developing interest in the sport. The advantage of the open weekend is there is plenty to do for the whole family, so you can bring children/grandchildren and they can get the bug from a very young age. I do think that is important – a lot of the focus from various industry big wigs is targeting say 18-25 year olds. Well in many ways, that’s too late – by then they’re off to uni or working away and the interests that they spend their time/money on has been formed long before adulthood. Therefore, racing getting on the front foot and allowing youngsters the chance to meet jockeys, trainers but most importantly, the horses, is key. That’s why I take so much joy out of the RaceShare stable visits – how cool has it been not only meeting your horse(s) but also seeing some other proper superstars such as Highfield Princess. I defy anyone to go to a racing yard and not fall in love with the thoroughbred after meeting them whilst also having huge respect and admiration for the staff who care for them so well. I know we have plenty more stable visits in the pipeline so if you’ve not been to one already then I highly recommend coming.

As stated above the world seemingly is more interested in short form content than ever before. I remember being dragged to a meeting by my agent about Tik Tok before it launched many years ago now. I was really impressed by their vision and it’s no surprise it has taken off to the level it has. A couple of years ago in my occasional role in the social stable I would trawl through Tik Tok looking for any racing content and it simply didn’t exist. Nowadays, thankfully there are a lot more ‘racing accounts’ including our very own RaceShare TikTok which I love and highly recommend checking out if you’ve not done so already. It contains short updates, funny sounds/effects, trends that everyone are doing and it’s current and easy to watch. It means that if someone who doesn’t follow racing is scrolling through social media they may stumble across it and want to find out more. Racing needs to be visible in these shop windows at all times and rather than set up profiles and accounts two years after the boom of a new product, the sport needs to be there from the start.

It goes without saying, but racing needs to continually innovate and improve its product both on the ground with the customer experience but also with data and information for the racing fan or punter. On the whole I think the racing experience is good, particularly now they have relaxed the dress code but I urge courses to consider letting more people into the paddock from syndicates and showcasing parts of the sport that are hard to get to, to as many people as possible. Obviously that is for the racecourses to decide, but on a personal level connected to RaceShare (and I know I sound like a broken record) but I do think the innovations such as the live raceday show, RaceTime, and more recently the publication of the RaceShare Times is so far ahead of its competition that I am really proud of the creative thought and approach at RaceShare. It’s innovative, informative, educational and easy to consume and combines all that I’ve mentioned above into easy to digest information. I really do think it is second to none in its approach and I hope that you, the owners, are enjoying the content that you are getting. As always, all feedback is welcomed and listened to, so please, if you have any thoughts let us know.

I’d love to hear your ideas as to how you think we can connect with a new audience/gain new fans as it is a constant conversation and one we will never have the correct answer to, but the more ideas mentioned the better. I do think people in racing are slightly anxious to mention or try ideas because seemingly the stock response from people in racing is to criticise anything new or different. That is so upside down in my head that I will never understand it. I would be willing to try 99 terrible ideas to land on the one jackpot idea rather than sitting on our hands as a sport, rowing along with the status quo. We can't really afford the luxury anymore of just expecting people to watch or come racing. We need to take racing to the public, not wait for the public to come racing.

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Upcoming and past events

Date Event Summary
18 November 2022
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The RaceShare team will be at Ascot on 18 and 19 November at the Shared Ownership Days. This is a great chance for us to meet racegoers and explain...
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19 November 2022
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RaceShare will be sponsoring the opening Novices' Hurdle at Ascot on 19 November. Alongside this, we will have a stand at Ascot's Shared Ownership ...
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