THE MELBOURNE CUP CARNIVAL IN THE ASIAN CENTURY
More than ever, Australia is recognising its place in Asia— geographically, economically and culturally. And while ties to the region have never been stronger or growing at such a pace, Asia has played a substantial role in the development of the nation for centuries
Chinese Australians have formed a significant and highly-valued part of Melbourne’s population, ever since Australia’s gold rush in the 1700s.
During the 1970s and ’80s more than 120,000 refugees from Asia migrated to Australia, bringing further diversity to the migrant nation.
Today, seven of Australia’s top 10 trading partners are in Asia or Oceania, with China and Japan making up the quinella—to borrow a racing term that describes the first two past the post—at the top of the table. The Republic of Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Thailand and Malaysia all feature.
Culturally, the friendships between the citizens of the regional nations have been cemented through tourism, business and education.
The racing industry is no different.
Racing links between Australia and China date back at least as far as 1862 when one of Australia’s leading racehorses, Exeter, was purchased for 100 pounds by new owners in Shanghai and exported to race in China, where it would win more than 100 times its purchase price in prize money. Exeter was originally leased and trained by Etienne de Mestre alongside the great Archer, winner of the first two Melbourne Cups in 1861 and 1862.
And like other industry sectors, Australian racing—led by the Victoria Racing Club—is recognising the growth opportunities within the region.
The world’s most vibrant racing event Like many businesses, the VRC has turned its attention to its Asian neighbours for growth.
Traditional racing markets, such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan naturally engage with the Carnival, which is often described as the world’s best racing event.Strategic alliances with race clubs in those markets have been fostered to harness that interest to drive wagering and attendance.
China, however, remains the untapped opportunity, but one the VRC is working on.
Tellingly, the VRC regularly visits China taking part in Victorian Government trade missions, hosting VIP events and building strategic partnerships.
“For the first time in 2014, the VRC partnered with
The Asian Executive for its Melbourne Cup Carnival Charity
gala event, a successful association that continues for 2019.”
In 2016 the VRC hosted the single biggest tourism activation ever staged in China. The Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashions Competition saw the VRC play host to more than 1200 travel agents and contestants in Shanghai, Chengdu and Beijing, generating significant media coverage both in China and Victoria. While Chinese media interest in the Melbourne Cup Carnival grew considerably, with 40 Chinese media representatives accredited to attend the 2016 Carnival, almost double the number in 2015.
Back in Australia, the strategy takes in China-specific tourism trade shows, Corroboree Asia and ATE, while a move to provide Mandarin translated collateral and supporting information for Mandarin speaking attendees will tailor the experience on-course at Flemington.
The VRC joined the Chinese social networking platform Weibo in 2014 and WeChat in 2015 to increase awareness of the Melbourne Cup Carnival in the Chinese community in Australia and around the world.
To further grow exposure through Chinese social media platforms, the VRC partnered with SINA which also owns Weibo, to broadcast the 2016 Emirates Melbourne Cup, delivering 1.5 million viewers in China. Following this success, in 2017 SINA for the first time will attend two days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and broadcast both Emirates Melbourne Cup Day and Kennedy Oaks Day. This exciting development will mean that China market will be able to enjoy specific tailored footage in their language.
For the first time in 2014, the VRC partnered with The Asian Executive for its Melbourne Cup Carnival Charity gala event, a successful association that continues for 2019.
The recent history of the Lexus Melbourne Cup is characterised by a phenomenon of incredible internationalisation. And just like the rest of Australia, the ties linking the event to the world are increasingly reaching to Asia.
Outstanding Asian executives recognised at the 2018 Melbourne Cup Gala event
Top (from left to right): Grace Lim, Jennifer Yang, Clement Lee, Jiaheng Chan, Adelene Teh, KW Choong, Rick Wong, Sally Capp, Philip Dalidakis, Narelle Plapp, Michael Mai, Chee Wei Ong, Bottom: (left to right): Ivy Wang, Mike Yang, David Li, Maggie Zhou, Shelly Li, Waco Tao, Bill Papastergiadis, Lewis Tong, Dug Pomeroy, Frank McMahon, Irene Yu and Michael Langhammer.
Race horse owner Dato Tan Chin Nam (right) chats with trainer Bart Cummings after his horse Viewed won the $5.5 million Melbourne Cup at Flemington race track in Melbourne, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008.
Delta Blues (at right) is a Japanese thoroughbred racehorse best known for winning the 2006 Melbourne Cup. He was the first Japanese horse to achieve this honour. Coming a close second was Pop Rock (at left), another Japanese horse, also trained by Katsuhiko Sumii and ridden by legendary jockey, Damien Oliver.
Visitors from overseas enjoying warm and welcoming Melbourne hospitality during the Melbourne Cup Carnival