Horse racing is a market that is unlike any other in the sports sector. It is covered very well in print and online daily by the likes of the Racing Post and the national daily newspapers, but they tend to mainly cater for race goers and in the most part their coverage is 'day-specific' and related to the betting aspect of the sport. There has traditionally been very little in the way of glossier, analysis-and-lifestyle-slanted publications that cater for fans of the sport and its personalities rather than people whose main interest is betting.
In racing's favour is the level of live terrestrial television coverage that it receives, which has been at least once a week for around 40 years. No other sport in the UK can match that reach over such a long period of time. So we were looking for a way into the market and thanks to our heritage here at Future in producing official guides to both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia, we were able to arrange a meeting with the two main organisers of QIPCO British Champions Day – the end of season flat racing championships that take place at Ascot Racecourse each October.
Those two entities – British Champions Series Ltd and Great British Racing – were keen for someone to partner with them to produce an official guide to Champions Day. The annual fixture has only been in existence since 2011 but has been a roaring success so far and is the richest single day of racing in the UK calendar, with £3.4m on offer over five races in one afternoon to the leading flat horses from the UK, Europe and beyond. The world's most powerful owners and breeders will be represented with horses there, in addition to the leading jockeys and trainers. And Ascot needs little introduction as one of the world's most historic, glamorous and famous sporting arenas.
Our partnership meant that British Champions Series Ltd and Great British Racing were able to help to open a few doors in terms of gaining interview access to some of the sport's biggest names for us – notably Michael Owen, Ryan Moore and Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, who all feature exclusively in the magazine. I was then able to use some of my own contacts to obtain interviews with other people such as Clare Balding. We were also given access to their huge photo archive, which helped enormously, and used some of their branding, but we retained editorial control of the product as it's our magazine.
The next step, of course, was to get the magazine to market and it was released on sale and to order online from today Friday October 4th and, with a dedicated, bespoke cover, will be sold at Ascot Racecourse on Champions Day itself.
The content inside is designed to appeal to readers on three fronts: firstly, being an official guide, it previews the action on Champions Day and contains all the crucial pre-meeting information that people need to know – whether attending the event or watching on TV - as well as looking back on Champions Day in 2011 and 2012; secondly, it acts as a souvenir season review by containing detailed reviews and photos of every race in the 2013 QIPCO British Champions Series (including the likes of the Derby, Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood and more); and thirdly there are lots of exclusive features and interviews.
Ahead of the release we have had some really positive feedback from key figures in the racing industry and from our partners and have certainly now started to establish ourselves in that sector. I must say that I am really proud of all the hard work put in by the team, who have worked tirelessly alongside me to make this project happen.