Ah Spring is in the air, which can only mean one thing… The races! Bringing together a group of friends and heading to the racetrack for a day of glitz and glamour, to see millions of dollars’ worth of horses run at almost unthinkable speeds with almost daredevil-like jockeys in colourful silks sitting on top of them.
Now before I continue I must admit, I am a horse racing tragic. I live and breathe the sport of kings and think it is a great way to meet people and enjoy a day out with friends and socialise. Some of my closest friendships have been formed around a racetrack and due to connections made by owning small shares in racehorses (haven’t got that Melbourne Cup winner… yet) over the years.
I also know that there is a stigma surrounding the demographic of the horse racing scene. The disgruntled man in the corner, muttering angrily to himself under his breath as he loses yet another race, we’ve probably all seen that image at some point in our lives. This could not be further from the truth, although I do admit there are some moments of anger from passionate punters.
On the whole, race clubs are now seeing the benefit in trying to target Gen-Y as possible racegoers in the hope they will continue to come back in the future. Over the past few years while attending the races, and particularly on major carnival days, I have seen the emergence of many activities outside of watching the races become available such as specialist marquees advertising a variety of products (such as cosmetics, drink promotions etc.), free giveaways for the first certain amount of people through the gates, professional photography opportunities and much more.
In providing these marquees and services, the Australian Turf Club is attempting to lure younger people to the races and to cast off the shackles of the ‘old man sport’ stigma, hoping that eventually younger people will see a day at the races as a must do event on their calendar once or twice a year.
Traditionally, a day out at the races has always been a great way to have fun with a group of mates whilst enjoying the pageantry of the carnival. Everyone (even I will admit I enjoy chucking a suit on when I head out to the track) loves getting dressed up and getting into the spirit of the day, which is only multiplied when you manage to back a winner! In my opinion, there is no greater atmosphere than thousands of racegoers roaring as the horses and jockeys thunder down the straight vying for glory and massive amounts of prize money, and the post-race cheers and jeers with your friends as you see who has backed the winner and who the unlucky loser was after the race.
For those who do enjoy going to the races and see themselves as a regular customer, discounted Australian Turf Club memberships are offered to those between the ages of 18-30 and organisations such as the Young Professionals in Racing have formed which specifically target the younger generation and organise social and networking events, share ownership in racehorses and of course, days out at the races for a small membership fee each year.
Another additional benefit now being provided by race clubs on certain race days is a combined entry and hospitality deal which allows for general admission entry as well as food and drink vouchers at a discounted price, which is very cost effective for those of you who wish to go to the races but are on a tight budget. Also, look out for special deals that combine a ticket to the races to entry to various events later that night, as a day at the races is always a good launching platform for a night out and this combined ticket may save you a penny or two!
So if I have convinced you that a day out on a nice Spring day to the races is all of a sudden a necessity in your life (I hope so!) Then there are a number of upcoming race days that will provide this incredible atmosphere and experience at your disposal.
Firstly, the centrepiece of the Sydney Spring Carnival, The Star Epsom Day, this Saturday October 5 coinciding with the Labour Day long weekend boasting three Group 1 races (the Epsom Handicap, the Metropolitan Handicap and the Flight Stakes) would be the best choice at the newly renovated Royal Randwick. NRL Grand Final ticket holders benefit from free general admission if they show their Grand Final ticket at the gate as an added bonus.
As most of the major races are run in Melbourne during the spring, other potential race days that will experience a large crowd in Sydney are traditionally Derby Day on November 2 at Rosehill Gardens, and of course Melbourne Cup day on November 5 (keep your eye out for a possible Melbourne Cup preview a few days before the race!) at Royal Randwick.
Good luck, enjoy the great day out with friends, and I hope you back plenty of winners (gamble responsibly though)!What are your thoughts on horse racing? A good day out with plenty of benefits or just another reason to gamble? Let us know in the comments below!