Thoroughbred Country was Launched by the Chairman of the Victoria Racing Club in association with the Minister for Racing.

The first step – Provide a new “Branding” for the national and international marketing of Victorian Racing and put the notion of “Thoroughbred Country” on the mental map of the Victorian public.

The second step – Entice visitors from the Asia/Pacific region where more people watch Thoroughbred Racing than all other Spectator sports combined.

When you read through the information below you will understand the objective and you will recognize the role this singular claim to fame can play in the prosperity of Victorian Racing. You will also appreciate the work of volunteers who have given their time and talents without charge to bring “Thoroughbred Country” to this stage of development.

Motorists who wear “Thoroughbred Country” number plates have pushed the project through a critical threshold.

Bernie Armstrong



Thoroughbred Country
Racing For Tourism

Racing for Tourism
Years ago, Thoroughbred Racing was Victoria’s leading Intrastate tourist attraction. Tens of thousands of Victorians travelled throughout the state to attend race meetings every year.

Although public interest has declined in recent years and fewer Victorians attend meetings, the Tourism implications are just as valid today as they were then.

In recent years, racing in South East Asia has witnessed a remarkable growth spurt and the potential for involvement from a tourism perspective is great. There has been concurrent growth in Asian ownership of Australian Bloodstock and indications for the future are that this investment trend will continue as more countries seek to model Thoroughbred development on the Victorian experience.

Most importantly our large provincial and smaller non- metropolitan cities can offer an unparalleled sporting and social experience for visitors from many of these heavily populated countries.

Because of our year-round racing and a unique spread of Country venues adjacent to magnificent rural attractions e.g. High Country, Great Ocean Road, Grampians, Phillip Island etc. It should be possible to broaden the span of tourism interest outside of the Spring focus.

In order to capitalize it may be necessary for Racing Victoria Limited to frame the Country Racing calendar with package Tour potential in mind, e.g. a High-Country Racing Tour would involve a series of meetings within reasonable proximity-Mansfield, Wangaratta, Benalla or A Great Ocean Road Tour-Geelong, Warrnambool, Colac and so on.

Now that the VRC has joined “World Horse Racing” to elevate global awareness of the Melbourne Cup Carnival there has never been a better time to market the year-round tourism potential of Victorian racing.

The long-established Thoroughbred Country number plates enables thousands of people to participate in the promotion of Victorian Racing and that combined with a new level of support for more aggregated marketing investment could activate the tourist inflow Victoria desperately needs.

Tourism is the most prized industry in the world and the “Racing for Tourism” opportunity as big as the marketing vision of State Government and the Victoria Thoroughbred Industry.


Thoroughbred Country Week

“Thoroughbred Country Week” was proclaimed each year by the Premier of Victoria in recognition of racing’s Contribution to government revenue, employment, tourism and investment, sport and recreation.

Guest pass tickets were distributed to all Victorian radio stations, television channels and daily newspapers for give away in return for publicity. Each ticket gained the holder entry to all country race meetings and selected tourist attractions, e.g. Pioneer Settlement and Sovereign Hill. Posters were distributed and banners erected at Tullamarine Airport, as well as other strategic locations – “Welcome to Thoroughbred Country”

Car Stickers
One hundred thousand car stickers, large and small, were distributed throughout Australia and overseas.

Five hundred large, medium and small vitreous enamel signs were erected on racecourses, in hotels, motels, restaurants, on highways and in hundreds of business, houses throughout Victoria.

Public Membership
Public Membership was introduced and membership cards were allocated via radio and the print media.

International Membership
International Membership was introduced to identify racing enthusiasts in primary target countries of Asia. Membership Cards were allocated in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

Thoroughbred Country Clubs
Regional Thoroughbred Country clubs were launched in Victoria to provide an opportunity for racing people to meet regularly in a desirable social atmosphere and listen to notable guest speakers who are the great unused resources of the racing industry. e.g. The Geelong Thoroughbred Club, Greensborough Thoroughbred Club, Broadmeadows Thoroughbred Club etc.

Golden Horse Awards
“Thoroughbred Country” Golden Horse Awards were televised by HSV7.

  • The Thoroughbred Award was presented to the most courageous horse to compete in Victoria during the preceding racing seasons.
  • The Acknowledgement Award was presented to the organisation or person who had done most to foster the aims and aspirations of “Thoroughbred Country”.
  • The Personality Award was presented to the organisation or person who had done most to establish Victoria as a tourist destination on the strength of Victoria’s racing supremacy.

The Journal
The “Thoroughbred Country” Journal was a two-hundred-page full colour publication featuring news, views and profiles including ‘Racing Towards 2000’.

Catalogues were published each racing season that listed “Thoroughbred Country” race days as nominated by Clubs, when members of Thoroughbred Country were admitted to the public reserve on production of their membership card.

Twenty thousand illustrated brochures describing Victoria as an ‘International Centre of Thoroughbred Racing’ were distributed throughout Australia and overseas.

Presentation Kits
Five thousand presentation kits were mailed to business houses, sporting organisations, church bodies and worker groups, highlighting the role racing plays in the life of Victoria. The kits projected racing as a valuable source of contact and an inexpensive vehicle for sponsorship.

“Thoroughbred Country” Insight
“Thoroughbred Country” Insight was introduced by 3AW and broadcast every Sunday afternoon at 3pm.

“Thoroughbred Country” Products
A range of “Thoroughbred Country” products were manufactured including brief cases, umbrellas, t-shirts and windcheaters, travel bags and desk sets, glasses, Fosters – gift packs, red and white wine, coasters, jigsaw puzzles, etc.

Melbourne Limited Steam Train
Steamage Australia promoted the “Thoroughbred Country Express to Racing Success”. The train was catalogued to service eight country race meeting each year.

V/Line promoted the “Thoroughbred Country” rail service to the Warrnambool carnival.

Coach Tours
Low cost coach tours attended most “Thoroughbred Country” race days.

Southern Air Plane Service
Southern Air promoted the “Thoroughbred in the Sky” and provided regular services to country race meetings.

Stud Excursions
School excursions were organised to thoroughbred studs in Melton, “The Heart of Thoroughbred Country”.

Local Government
The Thoroughbred Country ‘Melton Cup’ proved successful at Moonee Valley. Attendance lifted by twenty four percent which was the largest percentage increase against the same meeting the previous year. Similar plans were formulated for other regions without a racecourse including Sunbury, Shepparton, Maryborough and Broadford.
Other proposals were submitted to the Victorian Law Institute and the Victorian Trades Hall Council.

Port Phillip District racing Association
The Port Phillip District Racing Association adopted “Thoroughbred Country” recommendations: 

  • Thoroughbred Country Gold Pass
  • Thoroughbred Country Public Pass
  • Thoroughbred Country Classics
  • Thoroughbred Country Race Book covers

River Boat Excursions
The “Thoroughbred Country” river boats travelled to nominated Flemington meetings

“Thoroughbred Country” Film
The “Thoroughbred Country” film, produced by Race Play, was shown in schools, on television and to racing associations in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

Two editions of the “Thoroughbred Country” magazine were published and distributed throughout Australia.

Motor Vehicle Number Plates
‘Vic–Thoroughbred Country’ motor vehicle registration plates were launched at Flemington Racecourse.

The first pilot project involved Malaysia and Singapore. Fifty-six visitors joined the inbound package tour and attended Metropolitan and Country race meetings, visited studs as well as the Oaklands Junction Yearling Sales. Several yearlings were sold to first time investors according to William Inglis & Co.

Next Step

  • Regular Inbound package tours from primary target countries of Asia.



Download the Thoroughbred Country Business Register form.doc



Thoroughbred Country was created by Bernard Armstrong, a Victorian racing enthusiast who has worked in a voluntary capacity in the Victorian racing industry since the 1960s. As Vice President of the Geelong Racing Club he became concerned with attendance levels at race meetings, which had been declining for many years.