The Festival of Racing, which took in nine Group 1 races and 13 country cups between 9 February and 23 March, enjoyed strong growth in attendance, wagering and interstate participation, whilst offering record prizemoney.The $5 million The All-Star Mile, the world’s richest mile race, was run for the first time at Flemington on 16 March having been created to provide another signature race within the Festival of Racing, as well as build fan engagement with the sport.
The field for The All-Star Mile, won by boom Tasmanian filly Mystic Journey, was shaped by public vote with 139,427 eligible voters – 70% of whom were new customers to Victorian racing – determining 10 of the 14 horses selected to compete.The key metrics from Victoria’s 2019 Festival of Racing were as follows:
Attendance• Total attendance grew by 10.9% to 159,753 people – up from an average of 142,000 over the past three years;
• 16,059 people attended The All-Star Mile raceday – up 180% on the 5,716 that attended the Blamey Stakes meeting in the same timeslot in 2018;
• Each feature metropolitan meeting enjoyed attendance growth, aside from the C.F.Orr Stakes (wet weather) and Australian Guineas (hot weather requiring an early start) that were adversely impacted by weather; and
• A number of country cup meetings enjoyed large crowd increases including Echuca (up 44%), Stony Creek (23%), Colac (18%) and Edenhope (13%).
Racing• Prizemoney paid out increased by 28.7% to a record $36.7 million via the introduction of The All-Star Mile, increases to each country cup and an across-the-board rise to minimum prizemoney levels;
• A 13% increase in individual interstate horses that raced in Victoria during the Festival and a 21.6% increase in actual race starts by these visiting horses; and
• Average field sizes across the Festival of Racing dropped marginally from 9.5 to 9.4 starters, despite increasing from 10.5 to 11.1 starters for Group 1 meetings during the Festival.
Wagering• Total domestic turnover grew by 12.2% throughout the period underpinned by a 19.3% growth rate across the Saturday feature meetings;
• The All-Star Mile Raceday realised domestic turnover of $65.8 million – a 53% increase on the Blamey Stakes meeting in the same timeslot in 2018; and
• Turnover on the inaugural The All-Star Mile Raceday was commensurate with Super Saturday ($67.8 million) and Blue Diamond Day ($67.1 million).
RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, said: “The All-Star Mile was developed as a focal point within the Festival of Racing and the results indicate that it has achieved that in its first year, while fostering engagement with our racing in a unique and exciting way.“The results across attendance, wagering, interstate participation and even media coverage indicate that The All-Star Mile has played an important role in positively influencing our key metrics throughout the Festival of Racing.
“The Festival of Racing sits within a very busy and competitive period on Victoria’s sporting and entertainment calendar so it is pleasing to see the positive results achieved this year and the manner in which our meetings were supported.“We were particularly pleased to welcome more interstate competitors to Victoria for this Festival of Racing with our prizemoney increases and The All-Star Mile the key catalysts for more WA, NSW and SA-trained starters.
“Since the Festival finished we’ve been busy reviewing the inaugural The All-Star Mile and consulting with key stakeholders to shape our planning for the second edition which will be held at Caulfield on Saturday, 14 March 2020.”