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Sydney versus Melbourne Spring Racing engagement

3 minute read | Rob O’Dwyer, Director Government Tourism and Events, Nielsen Sports | November 2019

Major horse racing events in Australia offer brands a targeted advertising opportunity and visitors a chance to open their wallets. But does Melbourne or Sydney offer a more engaged audience? Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival stands as the pinnacle of Australian spring horse racing. However, in terms of attendees and visitors, they are being challenged by the recently formed Everest Carnival in Sydney. 

In recent years, to compete with Melbourne for event attendees and visitors, NSW has provided significant government and racing industry support toward the creation of the Everest Carnival, which includes seven race day events at two Sydney tracks, culminating with The Everest (the richest race in Australia) and Golden Eagle races. The growing interest in these events provides additional opportunity for sponsors to have greater exposure during the horse racing calendar.  

Despite the competition in horse racing engagement from Sydney’s Everest Carnival, Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival remains the best known of all Australian Spring racing carnivals, with 71% of Australians reporting that they’re aware. Awareness of Sydney’s major carnivals is lower, but it’s still strong. In fact, about half of Australians are aware of Sydney’s Everest Carnival (45%) and Sydney’s Autumn Racing Carnival (49%). 

While Melbourne may have a clear lead when it comes to awareness, Sydney shows stronger levels for intention to attend. Of those who are aware, 60% are interested in attending Sydney’s Everest Carnival, whilst 52% are interested in attending Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival. The same trend can be seen for tourists and their greater intentions to travel for the Sydney Everest Carnival in comparison to the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. 

For any event, increased interest leads to greater exposure across sport and general media, providing sponsors with increased opportunity and value, as well as driving greater event-day attendance from locals and visitors. For brands looking to associate with horse racing, the Sydney Everest Carnival now presents a strong alternate option. 

This research highlights that the presence of top trainers, horses, jockeys and prize money is driving these growing engagement levels in the Sydney product. Further, it’s highlighted the most important drivers for attendance amongst Australians interested in attending a horse racing spring racing carnivals are ‘big race’ days, family-friendly areas and delicious food options available from well-known chefs/restaurants. 


Through Nielsen SportsLink and Nielsen SmartHost, we will continue to analyse the competition between the two horse racing carnivals to understand the growing awareness and intention to attend as well as the impact on the visitor economy for government agencies and sports rights holders. 


Nielsen SportsLink focuses on understanding Australians’ sports, entertainment, arts and cultural interests. It has a particular focus on sports and deep-dives into fan engagement, behaviours and sponsor recall of Australia’s top professional codes. Cost-effective and customisable, SportsLink helps you to understand who is connected to your sport, benchmark against others and monitor how interests are changing. 


Nielsen Smarthost presents a wide array of data products and consulting services for the government tourism and events sector. This suite incorporates tools and services for event strategy formulation, opportunity identification and forecasting, optimisation and commercialisation, and the evaluation of the critical economic, sponsor, community and media impacts. Nielsen SmartHost delivers the insight and evidence for rights holders and government partners to succeed.

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