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28 February 2023

Aspiring racing journalist, Felix Foster, 16, joined over 100 guests at the recent Racing Together Industry day. Here are his interesting observations.

I was lucky enough to attend the Racing Together Industry Day recently when my mother, trainer Jo Foster, was speaking on the panel.

I came with a passion to understand more about the problems, solutions and future for racing, and that’s exactly what I learnt. The day had a variety of speakers from all sorts of backgrounds. Some were light-hearted and some were moving, it was an amazing day. There’s no surprise that it was held at such an iconic racecourse either, Ascot. The sun beamed down on the paddock, and I could almost imagine Estimate walking back to a crescendo of cheers after winning the Gold Cup.

Felix and mother Jo at Ascot event

Awareness across the sport

From Industry Day, I took away that racing is trying hard in many areas to attract new audiences. The sport is aware it needs to look towards future generations and projects to encourage them to come racing and be more involved. I am not sure if they fully understand how they can effectively do that yet, particularly attracting those of us in the younger adult/teenage groups.

Recently, I took a few friends to Wetherby races, and they had a wonderful time. This group of 16–18-year-old boys had finally succumbed to my endless nagging and had a good day out, but they did have a few queries.

Group approach to keep costs down

‘Why is it so expensive?’ and ‘we wouldn’t have gone if it weren’t for the free tickets’, they said. A point discussed intensely throughout the day was the price. Racing can learn a lot from both cricket and football within this topic (both discussed on the day).

Football has regular season ticket holders, so I am not sure why that cannot happen with racing. There are memberships for singular courses but not one for cumulative locations, I know I’d buy one for Yorkshire. Racing could also benefit from having its good news stories told better, or even told at all. Why does it only seem to sell the bad?

Felix during work experience at Cheltenham last year

Plenty to boast about

Speaking to some of my generation who are avid racegoers, they would also like to see more apps, informative free ones, particularly. So why not fantasy racing? It would be a great idea as many people already play the premier league and rugby versions. It would attract a wider, untapped audience and interest would thrive in my generation.

The National Racehorse Week, Racing Together Industry Day etc. are very successful and amazing platforms to show all the good within racing, but they need to be advertised more amongst people my age, and the non-horsey urban public. Changing the sport to fit in with people who do not understand it or want it around seems, to my young and probably naïve eye, crazy. If we are proud of racing, then shouldn’t the media show people more of the good and less of the negative, there is plenty I see to boast about. I know it was people from the sport that helped my mum (a trainer) through some tough times.

Teenagers are full of ideas about how to create a better space for racing within the news and for the future. The way to do this is through TikTok. It’s a social media platform filled with different types of videos and so easily accessible. My friends (and myself) are obsessed with it. Doing funny trends and interesting informative videos would be a quick success for anything racing-orientated and all things in the sport.

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