Australia is a horse racing-mad community when it comes to betting and fan engagement. The thoroughbred racing industry in Australia contributes an annual $9.5 billion to the economy, and figures from Racing Australia suggest there are approximately 159,000 individuals involved in thoroughbred racing, including over 100,000 racehorse owners.
That’s a lot of people to be organised. And for those looking to join a horse-owning syndicate, it means a lot of research and time spent chasing leads in online forums.
A study of the racing community found that there was ‘little industry collaboration’, citing 300 online groups that existed on Facebook alone.
That in itself may not be problematic. But for first-time owners looking to enter the community, the amount of information on the internet can become overwhelming.
What first time owners want is a better-organised racing community, without the noise of a traditional social media platform. What owners want is a centralised platform, where they can communicate with syndicate members and keep track of the latest races.
“Facebook is being used simply because it’s all that is available,” said Amy Thompson and Richard Busso, founders of Friends of Mr. Ed. “However it is not purpose-built for racehorse owners and can be really inefficient.”
Their product, Fred, is an app that allows horse owners to create, manage and reconcile their syndicate on a single platform.
“Fred offers a closed network for racehorse owners and racing fans without the noise of Facebook,” said Thompson and Busso. “It provides enriched data that allows you to integrate with your personal calendar so you’ll never miss a race again.”
The positive response for the app has left Thompson and Busso “humbled and encouraged”, and eager to launch new features, like in-app betting, and potentially white-label the product to expand into other industries such as equestrian and recreational horse-riding.
Recent years have seen race organisers use social media to engage fans and drive business. In 2018, the international body Equestricon held a panel ‘Social Media in Horse Racing’, dedicated to the benefits of digital engagement.
Fred comes into the racehorse industry as a new digital tool, designed to combine, consolidate and pull the community towards an integrated platform.
“We think the future of horse racing and horse racing syndicates look more connected than ever,” said Thompson and Busso. “We have very strong plans to make Fred the marketplace synonymous with horse racing. The opportunities are endless. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for Fred.”