The Melbourne Cup Carnival has underscored its position as Australia’s premier racing event, against the backdrop of a pandemic that saw the ‘race that stops a nation’™ run on a course without crowds for the first time in its 160-year history.
Notwithstanding the global pandemic and government restrictions, the Melbourne Cup Carnival delivered record engagement across all media platforms to 6.14 million, an increase of 16.9 per cent on 2019.
Wagering on Cup Week reached new heights, with total domestic wagering turnover of $667.3 million, an increase of six per cent from last year and an all-time record.
And almost half a million dollars was raised for charities via the Pin & Win and Lexus Melbourne Cup National Sweep initiatives.
On the track the Melbourne Cup Carnival was highlighted by an Irish victory in the $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup, with Twilight Payment becoming just the second horse after Might and Power to lead our great race from start to finish for an historic victory.
Throughout the Carnival:
- 441 horses competed in 37 races, representing an average field size of 11.9 runners.
- The four race cards, offering nearly $24 million in prize money, saw 25 individual trainers and 19 jockeys enjoy victory.
- Flemington Racecourse trainers won six of the eight Group 1 races.
The world-class racing, fashion and entertainment Cup Week is renowned for was delivered to all Australians via Network 10’s live and free television broadcast and digital channels.
- Engagement across all media platforms for the Carnival reached a record 6.14 million, a 16.9 per cent increase on 2019.
- Network 10’s coverage of Lexus Melbourne Cup Day reached 3.04 million nationally.
- An additional 683,000 live streams represented a 38 per cent increase on 2019 digital numbers.
- Importantly, Network 10’s entertainment based broadcast performed strongly in key demographics that the club is focussed on reaching, with each day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival coverage number one in its timeslot in all demographics including under 50s, 25 to 54s and 16 to 39s.
- The general audience migration to digital viewing was highlighted with Network 10’s multi-platform Melbourne Cup Carnival coverage reaching 4.4 million Australians nationally across the week, up from 4.1 million in 2019.
- The Lexus Melbourne Cup race was the biggest ever live stream event on 10 Play with a live stream audience of 143,814, up 47 per cent on 2019 (97,724).
- Whilst Network 10’s carnival coverage focussed on a younger and more entertainment-seeking audience, hard-core racing fans were also well served by Racing.com, whose digital streaming numbers rose 69 per cent year on year.
- Sky Racing 1 coverage was also up year-on-year, 15 per cent on AAMI Victoria Derby Day and 27 per cent on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day.
- New broadcast deals were also struck with Movistar in Spain, Polsat in Poland and Sport Deutschland in Germany, which when combined with the existing broadcast partners, takes the potential global audience reach of the Lexus Melbourne Cup to a staggering 750 million people.
Wagering on the Melbourne Cup Carnival reached a new record high this year, with total domestic wagering turnover of $667.3 million, an increase of six per cent from last year.
- The increase was largely driven by Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, which saw a substantial increase of 17 per cent to $364.5 million.
- AAMI Victoria Derby Day accounted for $141 million of the total domestic wagering over Cup Week, an increase of 11 per cent year-on-year.
- Kennedy Oaks Day, the only working day of the four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival, recorded $82.1 million in wagering turnover. This is down slightly from 2019 when the later timeslot for the day saw a seven per cent increase in wagering turnover, but up slightly from the 2018 result.
- Despite significant challenges on Seppelt Wines Stakes Day caused by the TAB outage, $79.7 million was wagered on the final day of Cup Week.
- The Victoria Racing Club work closely with key international jurisdictions to drive audience reach and wagering growth on the Melbourne Cup Carnival. The New Zealand Racing Board recorded its highest ever Lexus Melbourne Cup wagering result with more than NZD$15m wagered. The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) also delivered a record Lexus Melbourne Cup Day with more than HKD$166M wagered.
The general audience migration to digital was highlighted again by this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.
- There were more than 2.8 million views of VRC-owned content during spring, an increase of eight per cent on last year.
- This year the average number of views per user increased by 40 per cent, showing a significantly more engaged digital audience in 2020.
- The launch of a new dedicated digital destination, CupWeek2020.com.au, ensured everyone could engage with the rich event experience the Melbourne Cup Carnival delivers, from anywhere in the world.
- Racing content and race books for the Melbourne Cup Carnival were viewed more than a million times.
- Giddy Up Tipping, Trivia, Sweeps and Best Of moments formed a strong platform to engage users in a fun, barrier-free approach for novices through to the racing enthusiast. They attracted more than 185,000 views over the period, with 37,000 users.
- Fashion also rated highly, with more than 250,000 views across the VRC-owned sites of CupWeek2020.com.au and fashionsonyourfrontlawn.com.au.
- The Marketplace, which featured more than 100 products across food, drink, party essentials and more, was viewed more than 90,000 times.
- The rich storytelling brought to life by VRC produced video content was well received with more than 300,000 organic views across our platforms and video channels views across all our platforms and video channels including more than 111,000 views of the Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn introduction, almost 60,000 views of the Road to the Cup series, more than 30,000 views of the Forever Yours film and more than 30,000 views of the Lexus Melbourne Cup Race of Dreams.
- World Horse Racing, of which the VRC is an equity holder alongside Royal Ascot and Goodwood in the UK, Breeders Cup in the USA and the Hong Kong Jockey Club, also surpassed 300 million video views this year.
Social media took on new significance this year, taking people behind the scenes of one of the most unique Melbourne Cup Carnival’s in history.
- @FlemingtonVRC reached 50,000 followers on Instagram during Cup Week.
- There were more than 548 posts across the club’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
- On Facebook the posts generated 7.19 million total impressions and almost one million total video views.
- On Instagram stories there were 2.2 million impressions, and 313 tweets during Cup Week had an average of 4,900 impressions per tweet.
The Victoria Racing Club’s (VRC) strong commitment to community was reinforced this year, with hundreds of thousands of dollars donated and some very special Flemington Racecourse roses shared with those most impacted locally by the pandemic.
- Pin & Win – in support of Very Special Kids – raised more than $300,000 and counting, taking the total raised in the two years of the partnership to more than $750,000. This year marked the 26th year of Pin & Win, with all proceeds supporting an upgrade of Very Special Kids’ children’s hospice at Malvern where it cares for children with life-limiting conditions and provides much-needed family support services.
- The club also donated $50,000 to bushfire-affected Kangaroo Island, which was one of this year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour destinations. The South Australian town was the winner of the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour National Sweep, which saw 24 regional and rural towns represented by a horse in ‘the race that stops a nation’™.
- When Twilight Payment passed the post first, the town had extra reason to celebrate with the winning owners matching the $50,000 donation.
- The small community will donate the $100,000 prize to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, who service the island.
- In a heartwarming new initiative, more than 300 bouquets of Flemington’s famous roses were delivered to local frontline workers and community organisations to say thank you to those most affected by impacts of COVID-19.
VRC Chairman Neil Wilson said that while COVID-19 presented many challenges to the 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival, the VRC team and partners worked exceptionally well together to deliver a great event for members, the racing industry and community at large as well as strong commercial outcomes.
“While 2020 has been an unprecedented year with many challenges, it’s been fantastic to see our team and partners pull together to deliver such a successful Melbourne Cup Carnival. The challenges of COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for innovation, with the club creating an enhanced off-course experience for all with initiatives like CupWeek2020.com.au and Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn driving digital engagement,” Mr Wilson said.
“These advancements provide exciting ways forward for our business and a great opportunity to drive even better experience and value well into the future for our members, our partners and the racing industry.”
VRC Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said the 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival shone brightly.
“The Melbourne Cup Carnival continues to drive positive results for Australian racing, and the community more broadly, and is unrivalled by any other sporting and social event in the nation,” Mr Rosich said.
“This has been showcased in a year like no other, with a record 6.14 million people engaging with the event across all media platforms and a record total domestic wagering turnover of $667.3 million.
“In what has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us, we are deeply grateful to our broadcast partner Network 10, our principal partner Lexus and major partners AAMI, Furphy, Kennedy, Myer and Seppelt Wines for their ongoing support.
“I would also like to thank VRC members for their continued backing of our great club. I look forward to welcoming them, and all Australians, back to Flemington Racecourse soon.”
Attention now turns to summer racing at Flemington, with crowds set to return for two race days this month.