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CHR series to transform UK racing’s sponsorship landscape – agency

A new team-based horse racing series will help the sport shed its traditional ‘boots and Barbour’ image in the UK and attract sponsors from outside the dominant alcohol and gambling sectors, a leading agency has told SportBusiness Sponsorship.

Publicis Sports and Entertainment believes the 2019 launch of the Championship Horseracing (CHR) Series – with a new team format and a new focus on gender equality and horse welfare – will bring a new audience to the sport.

Tom Rosier, senior account executive at Publicis Sport and Entertainment, said: “The CHR might be just what horse racing needs to convince brands of its potential. A conscious decision not to have gambling brands associated with any of the teams is also a very clear sign of their intentions.”

The Series starts on July 25 and will be held at eight racecourses across the UK and Ireland: Ayr, Epsom, Goodwood, Haydock, Leopardstown, Newbury, Newmarket (July Course) and Sandown.

Branded teams will compete in 48 races, with each worth more than £100,000 (€115,000/$130,000) in prize money.

Rosier said the sport is already “Incredibly well attended, has a passionate younger audience, events 361 days of the year and an uncluttered sponsorship landscape.”

Rosier added: “Perhaps it is misconceptions about the audience that have put brands off, with racegoers considered too elitist or too ‘hardcore racing’ to take notice of non-traditional brands entering the sport as partners. Maybe it’s the fact that there is an assumption that racing only happens intermittently throughout the year.

“In reality, the audience dynamic is far removed from common misconceptions, with a wave of highly-engaged, brand-savvy millennials making up 44 per cent of British horse racing attendees every year. When it comes to event frequency, horse racing is unrivalled, with at least two race meets staged on 361 days of the year.”

The Publicis agency said UK horse racing has five key areas of strength for brand communications:

  • Horse racing is the second-most attended sport behind football in the UK, with over 5.7 million people attending racecourses in 2018
  • On-course branding opportunities deliver broad exposure and reach through broadcast deals with ITV, Sky Sports Racing and Racing TV
  • Open racecourses and long race days mean there is space and time for brands to deliver on-site experiences to engage attending fans
  • High-profile jockeys and trainers are available to partner with to deliver emotional and engaging stories around brand activations
  • An uncluttered sponsorship landscape outside of betting and alcohol brands that is untapped as a brand communications platform.