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3A Racing

Wesley Bowman and Andrew Harrison have some fresh ideas for racing

Wesley Bowman & Andrew Harrison

Wesley Bowman & Andrew Harrison

Wesley Bowman and Andrew Harrison are the force and the faces behind 3A Racing. They have made it their personal responsibility to bring new blood into the game and their motto is “life’s a joke, horseracing is serious”. Along with their syndicate members, they live for the game and race for the party and are trying to cater for a younger racing audience. We take a closer look at why their box is the place to be at Greyville.

Who are Wes Bowman and Andrew Harrison?
Wes – Born and bred in KZN. My family has a strong history in bookmaking, so I developed a love for racing at a very early age. I’ve been racing from box 3A since the age of 14. I experienced my first July from the 3A box and at 28, I’ve yet to miss a July from the 3A box. Along with a few friends, I took over the box a few years ago and the 3A Racing Syndicate was born. We haven’t looked back! Professionally, I am a Certified Financial Planner and have recently been appointed a director at my firm, HMV.

Andrew– Racing doesn’t run in my family, but I went to school with Mark Horsfield and Wesley Bowman who rectified this oversight in my education. I was probably exposed to racing at about the age of 12 and I’ve not missed a July since I was 14. I went to Varsity College in Cape Town and spent my holidays clerking for bookmaker Neil Cameron and Ronald Rowley. I landed a job at Hollywoodbets and have been working for Sportingbet since 2010, where I’m a Senior Trader.

How did you meet?
Our friendship goes back a long way and has survived junior school, high school and living together during Varsity.

How did you get into racing?
Wes – Family influence. My grandfather was a bookmaker and chairman of the KZN bookmakers society, two of my uncles are currently bookmakers. During my younger years, my father had a private suite at Greyville. Throw all these variables together, and you are hooked.

Andrew – I was probably about 13 years old. My friend Mark Horsfield is from a racing family and they took me racing one evening. It got me hook, line and sinker! I carried on following and supporting racing through them and slowly got into the game from there.

How and why did 3A evolve ?
Wes – It was a gradual process. My father had a private suite at Greyville and my friends and I started using it until we were there almost every race meeting. We put together a syndicate and took over the box and have been racing there for around 5-6 years now. We started off with 4 founding members (Wes, Andrew, Mark Horsfield and Daniel Airey) and we currently have 14 members in total.

What does 3A mean and where does it come from?
The private suite from where we race is suite 3A, very original I know. Ha ha.

What are 3A’s goals ?
Racing needs to focus on 2 things – the punter and the owner. They are the lifeblood of racing, without them, racing will never survive. We need to service the lifeblood of current whilst focusing on bringing in new/young faces, simple.

How does it work?
3A started out as a private venture for us and our friends to have some fun, but seeing how successful it’s been, we feel we have the potential to go beyond that. You cannot learn if you do not attend class, so our goal is to get people to the track, expose racing to the youth (well, our age group anyway!), and grow active participation through horse syndication.

We all have fulltime jobs and are in a phase of our lives when focusing on your profession is vital. Racing is our hobby, so 3A racing happens in our spare time. However, it all stems from our location and trying to provide a fun place to race.

Tell us a little about 3A’s foray into ownership and how it works?
We are all building our professional careers, we don’t have capital to throw at buying and mostly lease as it’s the most cost effective and affordable.

Who is in charge of managing the syndicate?
Wes: I generally make all the cost decisions and used to do the admin in my spare time (Nightmare!). We recently handed this over to Equine Group to do for us. I like to think I have enhanced the experience, but it is not easy, I am also still learning about syndication costing.

How can 3A fans get involved?
Anyone who’s interested can take a share in one of our horses, but in terms of the box, we’re currently at maximum capacity. If we could somehow find some support and get a bigger venue, we definitely feel that there is a demand and that we could fill it. Anyone can contact us on Facebook – just look for 3A Racing.

Why is the current offering struggling to attract new fans and how do you think 3A can do better? Firstly, a lot is being done to improve facilities and the overall product offering, yet there is still a long way to go. We feel 3A could be more successful in attracting new people if we could raise the capital to help give us a bigger platform and a louder voice. We’re having fun, but “It’s impossible to sell your music playing out of your garage”.

Boys Just Wanna Have Fun

Boys just wanna have fun

How do you think the 3A philosophy is beneficial to racing and how should it be used to reach a wider audience?
This is a complicated discussion, and it depends who funds it. It can and does work in KZN because we have our network here, but the concept can be implemented anywhere. Our focus is on the unconverted audience. We feel that the key to 3A is our hands on approach. We educate the people we attract to the course. We don’t want people to be left to make their own fun, we want them to have fun with us.

‘Racing, It’s A Rush’ is targeting a new, fresh, young audience – what do you make of it?
Don’t know much about this concept, so can’t comment.

Wes – you work for a financial services company and are also a Tellytrack presenter. How do you balance both?
I love my job but my colleagues would probably tell you that I love racing more! I make time for both. Presenting on Tellytrack is amazing, I love it, and at first I took on the role to try give 3A more exposure, but it has done far more for me than I had expected.

Andrew – you work for Sportingbet – what does your punting knowledge bring to the 3A table?
I’m obviously quite involved on the betting and bookmaking side. I started out as a clerk and gradually got more involved and I hope to take out my own license one day. Betting can be quite complicated to the uninitiated and it can be intimidating. However, all you have to do is shout a winner home and people will want to know how it works and what you did. It’s a nice way to expose people to punting. Quite a few of the 3A members bet regularly now, either on sports betting or on racing, but it usually takes one of us to spark an interest. I’ve just resigned from Sportingbet and will be moving to Cape Town to take up a position with BetTech in November. Cape Town obviously has the social life as well as world class racing, so Wes and I will be discussing how to bring 3A to Cape Town!

It seems clear that we do not have enough people attending racing, yet the offering seems geared to encouraging people to watch and punt from home. What are your feelings?
Wes – I could talk for hours on this topic. We need people on course, and with what Gold Circle is doing at Greyville I feel attendance will definitely grow over the short term. With the introduction of the polytrack and upgrading of facilities to race consistently on Friday nights, I think it has the potential to re develop racing Culture. How exciting.

How do you feel 3A can increase the number of fans and what do you need to succeed?
3A needs a venue and some financial support, we need a consistent role out that we can take to the market place in a big way. Sooner would be better than later – we won’t form part of racing’s youth forever! We have a database of approx 500 youngsters that we have built up over the years, but we have nothing to offer anyone as our resources are limited. We need financial backing and a bigger venue to take it to the next level.

Have you approached the industry for support?
We had a proposal that we submitted to Gold Circle 2 years ago, but that has gone quiet. There are a lot of changes taking place, good changes for racing. Currently I think our proposal would sit on a “Things to do List” . Nonetheless if nothing materialized we would continue to Race from 3A and would continue to have the fun we have been having, we love it.

Where do you think racing is succeeding and how does 3A exploit that?
Racing every Friday night would be a revelation. With the right marketing campaign, racing will be firmly on the front foot. How will 3A exploit that, easy – drinks, music and racing with your best friends every Friday. Let’s exploit!

What are the biggest challenges facing local racing and how would 3A be able to help?
To be totally honest, local racing has the opportunity to thrive, KZN has the biggest punter demographic – capture it and racing will fly. Service the current lifeblood and attract the new faces and racing will win.

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