Three days on and I am still buzzing from the experience that was the Star Sports Greyhound Derby Final at Towcester. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt like that at a dog track, other than maybe Shelbourne Park on Derby final night or maybe the Stow back in the 80’s. My throat is still sore but there is no better feeling in life than screaming a dog home from a packed grandstand.
This was more than a dog race, it was a sports event comparable to all others. Everything about it made me proud of our sport – from the social media pre-event build up, to the view as you approach the stadium, the packed grandstand, the way the starter and kennel hands are dressed, the attention to the welfare of the dogs, the hospitality facilities, the fantastic mix of people who attended, the way each race is presented, the entertainment laid on for young and old, the charismatic sponsor, the buzz of the betting ring and of course the dogs themselves who put on such an incredible show.
This was the first time in years I managed to persuade my kids to come racing. At last I had an opportunity to show them what racing really can be like – and Towcester delivered, and some. They now get it and who knows may now be owners of the future? I expect I’m not the only one who has shown footage of the event to as many non-believers as possible in an attempt to prove that a night at the dogs is still capable of being a magical experience. And think about the viral effect of an event like this. If just 50% of the 5500 attendees posted a video of the event on Facebook (average followers is now 338 apparently) then that’s 1,053,250 peers that are seeing the incredible images of this showcase event. The possibilities are endless.
We all need to understand how big an opportunity the success of this event gives us as a sport. That event at the weekend actually happened, it is no longer a possibility but a reality, and we have the beautiful Sky Sports footage and images from Steve Nash to prove it. Now is the time to get to work and work out how we capitalise on it. The GBGB. The Promoters. The bookmakers. Me and my Innovation Panel. Everyone should embrace this new opportunity.
It’s time for all promoters to wake up and realise that in order to attract the modern day customer, they need to create a modern day product, that is well funded by their business, that is well promoted (after all they are promoters), and has the customer at the very heart of what they create. Build it and they will come. This weekend proved it beyond any doubt.
Finally congratulations to the owners of Astute Missile and to Team Cahill. A fantastic derby winner who peaked at absolutely the right moment. And the image of the packed celebration podium with the rainbow in the sky as the backdrop was the perfect ending to a truly memorable night.