Interview With ATC’s Brett De Vine: Planning The Everest
Q: Congratulation on the successful completion of this year’s Everest. It must have been quite a tough event to put together, given all the other races in the season as well? What was the biggest difficulty or challenge which you faced during the lead-up to the event and during the event itself?
A: ATC’s execution of the raceday was many months in the planning. In fact, planning for some parts of the day started almost the week after the 2017 race. All of the corporate hospitality was booked out many months in advance, and we were forced to build extra infrastructure across public and ATC Members spaces to cater for a modern-day record Royal Randwick crowd. Perhaps the biggest challenge was something we can’t control – the weather. The lead up to the day was wet and it rained several times during the raceday, which forces extra strain on indoor spaces across the racecourse. We worked closely with police and other authorities to monitor crowd levels and people movement throughout the day, and to ensure our customers were as safe and as comfortable as possible. Police at one stage looked at closing the gates, but this never eventuated and everyone who pre-purchased tickets still had the chance to come later in the day and enjoy the racing and the after-concert with Liam Payne.
Q: How big is your team and how do you guys cope?
A: ATC and its staff are highly skilled at delivering all forms of major events, particularly around our racedays. ATC is a 52 weeks a year business, and throughout the year the Club hosts and delivers 113 race meetings, and hundreds of non raceday events across its four racecourses. We cope through teamwork. There are more than 200 full-time employees at ATC, and on days such as TAB Everest, we also have around 1800 casual staff, working across all areas of the racecourse including services, kitchens, food outlets and bars, gates, security, cleaning, hospitality and general raceday operations around horse stalls, the Theatre of The Horse and of course, on the track itself. It’s a day of many, many moving parts and all departments work collegiately to cater for the extra crowd that a Carnival raceday demands.
Q: How do you see The Everest evolving over the next five years?
A: ATC’s aim is to continue to build this event in the years ahead to even bigger crowds, and bigger prizemoney. The first year crowd was 33,512, and this year the crowd grew by around 20 per cent to 40,578 people. More than 80 per cent of pre-purchased tickets were from people under the age of 35. We want to continue to market this raceday to the younger generation and to an audience that has not traditionally attended the races. We will continue to use social media as a big driver toward tickets sales.
We will also look to build even more infrastructure to cater for more people across Royal Randwick and grow the crowd figure over coming years. Next year’s race will be worth $14 million and the following year $15 million. The 12 original slot holders, one of which is ATC, have ALL already committed to running again in the fourth year, after initially locking in three-year agreements to run in The Everest. Each of the original slot holders has a lifetime invitation and will receive first preference each year to be one of the 12 slot holders. There is also a waiting list of others who want to be a part of the race.
I believe The Everest will continue to be the most-talked about and popular racing and entertainment events on the Australian calendar. IT will also continue to attract runners from overseas. Coolmore this year ran U S Navy Flag and has indicated it wants to have another international runner next year. ATC will also continue to talk with overseas trainers and owners across a number of jurisdictions to see if they wish to bring a sprinter to out Quarantine Centre at Canterbury Park.
Q: We read that over 75,000 people attended The Everest raceday. Is this number correct?
A:The official TAB Everest crowd this year was 40,578.
Q: Would you be able to shed light on the target demographic and whether they matched the actual turn-out?
A: As previously noted, more than 80 per cent of the crowd who pre-paid for entry tickets were under the age of 35. This was also clearly evident on the raceday when you walked around the racecourse, it was very noticeable the crowd was not the usual demographic and was younger than a normal carnival raceday. Advance ticket sales were up 25 per cent on last year, so all social media and digital spaces helped to add to sales. Our website traffic was up 25 per cent in the lead up to the day, and social media had a global reach of up to 30 per cent. There was also a trend of people buying tickets in large groups. Off track, the race was televised into more than 60 countries with an estimated reach of more than 100 million people. The lead up and raceday itself dominated more traditional forms of media – Everest was front page news in all Australian capital cities and free to air television all week.
Could you describe the demographic profile of people you would like to attract in the future? And do you have a communication plan for the same? As above
Q: Some people have suggested that the race distance should be raised to 1400m in-order to open up opportunities for more international sprinters or even a top class sprinter like Winx. Is this something you/ ATC have or will consider? Based on the last two installments, are there any changes you will be considering for 2019?
A: There are no plans to alter the distance or conditions of the race in coming years. The 1200m distance is very much aimed at attracting the world’s best sprinters to take on one of the great strengths of Australian racing, and that is our sprinters. The field size of 12 is also proven to be among the best for wagering. A horse like Winx would be a phenomenal drawcard, but given she is only expected to race for another season or two, we wouldn’t change the race conditions to solely attract such a champion for one year. This year’s field attracted ten individual Group One winners, so it was already a very strong race which offered a wide-open betting market. We would expect it to continue to attract the very best from Australia and around the world, including the UK, United States and perhaps even Japan.
Q: What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen happen at a race course on 13th Oct this year?
A: (The most fondly remembered moment.) The best moment is undoubtedly the roar of the crowd as the gates open at the world-famous 1200m start at Royal Randwick. Last year’s roar for the first ATB Everest was only surpassed by a longer and louder one for this year’s race. It shows that people and especially that younger demographic are not just at the races for a social time – they are very much engaged in the race itself. The electric atmosphere across the racecourse reaches a crescendo by jump time and not even rain and poor weather this year could dampen the enthusiasm. We look forward to making The Everest an even bigger and exciting raceday next year.