Chairman’s Message – December 2016

As the year winds to a close and our fantastic Spring Racing season wraps up for another year, it is naturally a good time to stop and reflect on the activities and achievements of the preceding months, and to cement plans for the year to come, particularly as they impact our most important audience, our members.

2016 has seen tremendous change, and with it, noteworthy growth across many aspects of our business, which I’ll outline below.

Spring Racing Carnival Review

Back in October I labelled our 2016 BMW Caulfield Cup Carnival “the most successful Caulfield Cup Carnival in a decade” and all subsequent reports, feedback and data have confirmed that assertion.

As we have come to expect, the racing was first class, and Jameka, Ciaron Maher’s Caulfield-trained mare, winning the BMW Caulfield Cup capped off this great carnival.

We saw attendance, at-home and online viewership up on last year, with social engagement across the carnival growing five times from last year, as well as increased total wagering turnover. Our new precincts around the course were fantastically received, particularly the Crown Young Members marquee and the David Jones Fashion Stable which saw 3 times the participation compared to last year.

Overall satisfaction from you, our members, was high across the board, particularly in relation to the quality of the field on racedays, presentation of the venue and atmosphere/ crowd numbers.  Where need for improvement has been noted, specifically in crowding levels in the members areas and Medallion Bar, the club has committed to addressing these issues over the coming months.

We have also recently taken the exciting step of foraying into the business of distributing our racing vision to international markets directly. This means, for the first time, we are collecting 100% of the associated revenue in an area we view as a significant opportunity.

Members’ Update

The Club’s membership base continues to enjoy year on year growth, seeing us with a 10% lead on memberships compared to same time last year. This growth can be put down to the fantastic efforts of the membership team and us striving to create more value and better experiences for our members, including:

  • The recent refurbishment to the concourse area in the Rupert Clarke Grandstand, with new carpet, furniture and lighting throughout
  • Pegasus Rewards being rolled out to Mornington and Ladbrokes Park with even more ways to redeem and use points
  • Exclusive behind the scenes member experiences available in conjunction with the recent launch of our new member rewards program – Pegasus Rewards
  • Exclusive, Member offers for our owned events including Splashland, Gourmet Cinema and The Peninsula Picnic
  • The upcoming development of the Hiskens Grandstand Bar as a new Members facility to open in 2017
  • The establishment of a members sub-committee with strong representation across all membership demographics to ensure a greater voice for all of our members at the club

As part of the new and improved member communications focus, we will also be holding two scheduled member forums next year, and have installed a new online member feedback form to ensure more direct, and transparent communication channels between us.

MRC Foundation

The MRC Foundation has achieved some big wins over the past year, including facilitating our first intake of students into the Female Track Rider Scholarship at Melbourne Polytechnic.

We have also begun planning for the external facilities upgrade at Mornington, thanks to the hefty $150,000 donation to support Riding for the Disabled Mornington, which is a result of a $50,000 equal commitments from the Committee of Management for the Mornington Racecourse, the MRC Foundation, and Racing Victoria.

We have an exciting upcoming calendar of activities relating to the MRC Foundation, with the marquee Blue Diamond Gala Ball fast approaching in February 2017.

Gontran Cherrier

Gontran Cherrier, our French bakery, launched in Collingwood mid-year and I’d encourage you to sample some of its fantastic French products at the MRC Members discounted rate. We are focused on growing the business through wholesaling many items as well as looking at future stores. Members will see more of Gontran Cherrier products throughout all our racecourses, pub venues and events in 2017

Glasshouse refurbishment

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Renovations have finished at Caulfield’s Glasshouse which I think we can all agree has made a big difference to the aesthetic and atmosphere of the venue.

The site now boasts contemporary state-of-the-art facilities, with a stylish new family bistro, a modern wine and tapas bar, multi-purpose function space, sports bar, alfresco style dining area and interactive kids zone.

The Glasshouse team look forward to welcoming you soon.

Looking ahead to 2017

With a calendar stacked with racing and non-racing events well into next autumn, we have had little time to rest on our Spring Carnival laurels.

Summer sees our second biggest season of quality racing, with 24 dates across our three racecourses, including hallmark dates Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Australia Day Races. The Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes, set for February 25, has enjoyed a record number of acceptances, with 686 horses currently in contention and the kids favourite, Family Day, is back bigger and better on February 13.

Upcoming Non Racing Events

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As members you always receive exclusive offers for our owned events. With four major events coming up over the coming months, we encourage you all to take advantage of these offers, with our regards.

Many of you will have heard about our new summer family event, Splashland, popping up at Mornington and Caulfield in December and January. An inflatable waterslide park for kids, Splashland is part of our ongoing effort to expand upon our family and kids offering and will be a fantastic event for parents and kids alike. Ticket sales are doing well, and when the warmer weather finally does decide to hit, we are looking forward to some sellout days!

March and April will see the return of two of our most popular non-racing events Gourmet Cinema and The Peninsula Picnic. Outside of racing, these events allow us to showcase our other finest assets, our wonderful venues, and our outstanding expertise in food and beverage. Tickets are currently on sale for The Peninsula Picnic, scheduled for April 1 (on a Saturday for the first time), with the Gourmet Cinema season and tickets to be launched later in January.

The MRC Foundation is ramping up for their biggest fundraiser of the year, the Blue Diamond Gala on February 23. The Gala is always a very special event on our calendar, a chance for us to celebrate our achievements and charity partners, and shine a light on this important part of the business. If you have not already RSVPd to this event, I highly recommend that you do so, it really will be one of our best events of the year.

As you can see, the MRC will be in full swing across the festive season, with some exciting projects in the pipeline and some outstanding activities for our members. We encourage all of members to take part in as many of our upcoming events and offers as possible, and as always, welcome all and any feedback on your experiences either via our new online feedback form, or directly to myself or any of the Committee.

On behalf of the Committee, Executive team and staff of the Melbourne Racing Club, we would like to wish all of our members are very Merry and Safe Christmas and look forward to seeing you in 2017.

Mike Symons
Chairman
Melbourne Racing Club