The Racing Pathway has established a coordinated approach, across the whole industry, including bringing together some of the fantastic work already being undertaken by individual organisations.
Every football club in the UK has a junior supporters club to develop and engage the future fan, viewer, player, investor and revenue generator. It is currently no one’s job in racing to think about or acquire the customer of tomorrow with any purpose.
With the support of all major stakeholders, including the Racing Foundation, the Racing Pathway strategy was launched in 2019 by entrepreneur and broadcaster Josh Apiafi, and his team of associates.
Horse Racing has long been hailed as The Sport of Kings, in fact it still uses this advertising slogan on in a regular basis. It has traditionally been the face of white, male and middle and upper class. Racing is a sport for everyone to enjoy, no matter your age, gender, colour, religion or background.
For the sport to become attractive to Generations Z, Alph and Beta, racing needs to not only portray, but actually become, far more inclusive and diverse in its thinking, leadership and growth strategies. Following an initial year of engaging the sport’s key stakeholders and senior executive teams, and research within Generation Z focus groups, the feedback was that if a past time or activity is to be attractive to the Gen Z peer group, it needs to hold diversity and inclusion, sustainability and connectivity as key engagement pillars.
The initiatives that the Racing Pathway has delivered, are promoted to an audience, reflective of today’s society. They are marketed and promoted in line with this. The initiatives being launched in this project have KPIs associated with diversity and inclusion. This is a necessity and will help to support the industry commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
Horse racing is principally funded by fans, be them owners, bettors or attendees. As an industry, it is imperative that racing has a defined strategy to continue to attract and retain these vital revenue sources. Multiple sports and leisure activities are looking to engage the next fan or customer throughout their impressionable teenage years. Historically, racing waits for a generation to be of fare paying and betting age before they start to try and promote themselves. This is principally and understandably due to the relationship of the sports’ commercial organisations with bookmaker partners. There are some well-established and commendable promotions for the younger audience such as ‘under 18’s go free’, but no engagement strategy once they arrive.
Racing’s principal funding comes from media rights, racehorse owners, the levy board (a statutory levy paid by bookmakers) and ticketing income all of which require an engaged customer base. If there is no strategy to encourage the next generation of fans, then these income streams will drastically decline over the next decade. This is intrinsically linked to prize money levels across the sport; something which is a key consideration for racehorse owners investing their money.
Racing Pathway is the start of this journey.
Meet the team
Our team of strategic consultants at Apiafi Associates offer over 75 years of work experience in the horse racing industry and have been leading campaigners of Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity.