Horse Racing… Changing of the Guard- Nicholas Whittle

October 17, 2012

The Chancellor of the Exchequer should have been with me in Newmarket last week to witness a record turnover for a European Yearling Sale at Tattersalls. Trade was extremely strong with the highest yearling selling for 2.5 million guineas and representing the leading price for a yearling in the world this year. The sale turnover was just over 20 million guineas for 418 Lots. Are we in a recession? It did make me think, wouldn’t it be entertaining to parade Premiership Footballers around the sales ring for the transfer market – establishing a new ‘Theatre of Dreams’!

Last Wednesday there was a memorable sporting moment for me to cherish. Frankel the wonder horse, who is unbeaten and preparing for his farewell run at Ascot this Saturday, was completing his final piece of work on the gallops in Newmarket. We represent his jockey Tom Queally and he kindly invited me to attend the gallops with him. At 8am, as the world’s media started to gather, I had a sense of excitement of seeing Frankel in action but also sadness that his racing career is nearly over. A new chapter will start next year, with some of the yearlings just bought at Tattersalls being potential superstars; however I doubt I shall ever witness in my lifetime another Frankel. He has been a superstar and a marketers dream for the sport of horse racing. Finality is also a recurring theme on Saturday as the BBC will be broadcasting for the last time at Ascot.

With the economy being the current hot topic of conversation, I think a bookmaker would do a good job of running the finances for the country – sharp, practical and having the ability to make money. One could argue there is too much bureaucracy in the world and over complication in dealing with simple tasks. My Grandfather taught me that if a business has marble surrounding the front door, take care dealing with them – a crude but worthwhile adage to benchmark businesses. Think of all the marble that has been wasted at the lavish offices of the banks.

I am a firm believer that leaders and businesspeople are born with the talent to succeed. There are too many present-day companies being run on academia and not instinct. For example why waste money on sales courses for employees? The local fish market would be the best bet to find an efficient sales team.

11 years ago in my first job at a sports agency I proudly secured a quarter of a million pound deal in the first few weeks.‘You’ll never sell to them, look at the data’ said one of my company Directors. I didn’t look at the data but did ring the Chairman of the company, who was an avid horse racing fan. My point being – keep it simple and have the instinct to skin a cat several different ways. I am no business guru, but keeping in mind simplicity, whenever we are selling commercial rights we refer to 3 points:

1. What’s on offer?

2. How much?

3. What’s the return on investment?

At the moment there may be a negativism with brands, a reduction in their marketing budgets, however the positive news from the yearling market hopefully is a clear indication that confidence is around the corner.

A graduate of Manchester University, Nicholas Whittle has over 10 years’ business experience in the sports and entertainment world, gaining significant hand-on exposure to the areas of talent & personality management, rights ownership, brand development, media distribution, contract negotiation and provision of wealth management services. Nicholas started his career at World Sports Solutions, a company specialising in athlete representation and brand consultancy to professional sports teams. He then took up a position within the Formation Group (now SportFive). In 2004 Nicholas set up, developed and managed Nicholas Whittle into a successful sport and entertainment creative agency. His keen interest in the sport has been cultivated and encouraged through a strong family background in the racing world.
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