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Irish Chamber

Business of Racing

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Our CEO recaps some of the points made at today's Business of Racing Corporate Lunch, featuring Bernard Saundry, the CEO of Racing Victoria, Cormac Barry, the CEO of Sportsbet, Sebastian Hutch from Coolmore and Chamber trainer Robbie Kingston.

Some of you will know that I'm a keen horse racing fan and so, to have the opportunity today to help host a lunch featuring some of the leading figures in the industry was an absolute pleasure. Irish Australia is prominent in the industry from the biggest to the smallest operators in it, from the science to the feed to the trainers, several jockeys, bookmakers and far beyond. It's a passion shared between our nations. It's a massive industry too and fully justified it being a prominent event on our calendar. In Victoria this spring carnival, it will be worth economic activity in the region of $2bn and provides work throughout the year for 70,000 people. In Victoria alone, there are 55,000 registered racehorse owners - I'm one of that 55,000 and still hoping for that elusive Melbourne Cup!

In the capable hands of our MC, Warren Huntly, we discussed reform, integrity and welfare with Bernard Saundry, CEO of Racing Victoria and the man who ultimately is tasked with delivering what the racegoing public and other stakeholders want from the industry.

Cormac Barry, CEO of Sportsbet, shared with us some insights on the wagering side of things. In Australia, that sector turns over about $28bn each year and the revenue or "what the punter leaves behind" is well over $3bn. Tabcorp make the lions share of this revenue but the corporate bookmakers are making their presence felt and in many cases are at the cutting edge of product development, marketing and technology. A startling insight was that only a few years ago, around 5% of wagers were done via mobile phone. In Sportsbet last month, that figure was 75%. That's huge change, huge opportunity and that's ultimately an Irish company (Paddy Power) responsible for delivering much of this change.

We learned from Sebastian Hutch, Sales & Marketing Manager for Coolmore Australia, that the romantic idea of "bring the best to the best and hope for the best" has been superceded at Coolmore with a business model covering acquisitions, development and breeding to create the next leading sires with innovation and investment between Ireland and Australia in the field at it's highest levels.

Some really good insights came from Robbie Kingston who put the training game in context for the racing novices in the room when he explained that when he started up his own stables, it was just like any other small business and managing cash, employing staff, working in and on the business were common across all sectors.

Thanks to all our panel members, to Moonee Valley Racing Club, Sportsbet and Robert Kingston Racing Stables who were today's event partners and to all our guests who made today a memorable day for me as a member of the Chamber. 

Now, all we need to do is find the winner of 2 Cups and a Plate in the next month and we are set!

Racing Victoria