O'Callaghan: racing must remove cloak of mystery to attract followers
Leading Irish Flat trainer Michael O’Callaghan recently opened a debate on Twitter by asking the public how they would attract more people to come racing, and he has come to the conclusion that the sport needs to "remove its cloak of mystery".
O’Callaghan, who is based on the Curragh in County Kildare, could be described as an innovative trainer through his use of social media and racing clubs, and he believes it is time racing began to move with the times in order to attract a greater following.
He tweeted: "I'd like to ask for suggestions on what you, the general public, think would get more people into racing, and going to the track?" The tweet was widely shared and received 163 replies.
Commenting on the tweet, and the response that it generated, O’Callaghan said: “The tweet was meant to be a lot broader than it was interpreted. I just wanted to see what people felt would attract more followers to the sport as we are haemorrhaging fans to other sports and it is about time we started to act on it, because if we don’t racing won’t survive.
“Racing does not have enough purists to survive on its own and we need to remove this cloak of mystery and become more transparent in order to attract prospective followers.”
'We need to market our product better'
O’Callaghan is one of few trainers to have his own app and regularly shares content from his yard on social media, which he believes is key to attracting the masses.
“I have no doubt in my mind that we have the ingredients to become one of the most popular sports around and we need to become the number one producer of shareable content in order to illustrate what an unbelievable product we have.
“Put it this way: I think 22 horses scrapping it out at the Curragh is much more exciting than 22 lads kicking a football, but we need to market our product better.”
O’Callaghan added: “Godolphin do quite a good job by emphasising the team aspect of the sport on all of their social media platforms and that works brilliantly as people can relate to them.
“We need to start making stars out of top jockeys and riders so people can latch on to them, and I think this would lead to more people becoming interested in the sport.
“I am trying to practise what I preach by doing my bit on social media and through the racing club. People want more than ever these days and if I can do my bit for the sport I will be happy because I am looking at the long-term picture here.”
Do you have a suggestion as to how racing can improve its following? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @RacingPost