The 2012/10/18 at 17:00
Interviewed by Asha Meralli
Commerce International: What exactly is the Société d’Encouragement à l’Élevage du Cheval Français and what are its missions?
Isabelle Coltier-Spira: The SECF is an association set up under the French 1901 law, whose aim is to improve the French horse race. Our goal is to help develop the horse racing stream which in France represents over 70,000 direct jobs, when we take into account harness races and gallop races, with gallop races logically managed by France Galop. Our different activities place us under the supervision of three French ministries: the Ministry of the Budget for the economy generated by harness races, the Ministry of Agriculture for the development of the horse stream and finally, the Home Office for overseeing gambling and the attribution of colours to owners. The SECF is an institution that has been in existence for a very long time – it is going to celebrate its 150th birthday in 2014 – but those in the know are familiar with us under the name “le Trot” (the Trot) whose motto is “Le Trot, plus qu’une allure, une culture” (The Trot, more than a style, a culture). Finally, to the greater public we are known via the PMU which we own in equal shares with France Galop and the Equidia channel: Equidia Live, which broadcasts races, and Equidia Life, which is more concerned with the equestrian universe as a whole.
The world of horse races, which once seemed to be reserved to a small circle, now seems to be opening up towards the outside, namely via poster campaigns …
I.C.-S. : Indeed, for around ten years now, we have been trying to make a greater communicative impact via the PMU and different initiatives organised around our grands prix, whether the Grand Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe or the Grand Prix d’Amérique… This means that today, we are more up with the times. Our aim is to make harness races more democratic, but also to make the race course a place for outings, for entertainment. Beyond our 12,000 horse racing points of sale, we have a network of 240 race courses set up in attractive spots all over France. This is how we are trying to reach out to people, to allow them to discover this universe, little known until now, that necessarily charms them in the end. At races, there is always a certain element of emotion, a certain degree of fever, that leaves no one indifferent. The Cabourg Racecourse, which hosts races during the summer closure of Vincennes Racecourse, registered 120,000 visitors this summer, in other words an average of 7,000 spectators for each of the 17 race-meets that we organised! This has become a very strong element of attractiveness and local authorities are enthusiastic. This is proof of the fact that there is a real public for races.
What can be said about the Grand Prix d’Amérique?
I.C.-S. : This is a world harness race championship. In other words, it’s absolutely top notch – our must! It’s also the most widely gambled race in France, with 9 million bets for stakes of no less than 40,000,000. A legendary context and a fine setting – a unique moment, drama played out in three minutes, shivers guaranteed… The horses that take part are exceptional athletes with real personalities. All this is extremely intense. This mythical race has generated a great reputation, bringing it quite extraordinary exposure and renown, with 500 accredited journalists on hand and 6 million euros in media stakes. It is for this reason that many personalities come to watch. And unlike the case of football, our partners are not drowned by advertising. All the more as we produce our own images, allowing us to show them to advantage.