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November 2, 2020

BY RAY THOMAS, DAILY TELEGRAPH

The rise of the Golden Eagle as a spring feature has been backed up by TV ratings for the Rosehill Gardens meeting, which pulled a much bigger free-to-air audience than Derby Day at Flemington.

Channel Seven’s national viewing audience for the Golden Eagle at Rosehill Gardens has soared over rival Network 10’s Derby Day coverage from Flemington for the second successive year.

The Golden Eagle coverage hosted by Bruce McAvaney with panellists Richard Freedman and Katelyn Mallyon had a peak audience on Seven of 303,000 nationally – 56 per cent higher than the Derby coverage, according to figures released by Channel Seven on Sunday.

For Sydney racing, it’s significant that a new race like the Golden Eagle is gaining such acceptance with the free-to-air viewing audience.

Over 300,000 viewers tuned in to Channel 7 to watch the Golden Eagle meeting at Rosehill Gardens. Picture: Getty Images
But what does this mean for the coverage of the traditional Derby Day meeting at Flemington?

It does bring into question the wisdom of the Victoria Racing Club’s decision to change free-to-air broadcasters two years ago, albeit in $100 million deal, to have the four-day Cup Week Carnival shown on Channel 10 – a move that has fragmented racing’s viewing audience.

When Seven last broadcast the Derby Day meeting from Flemington in 2018, it attracted a national audience of more than 480,000, including 173,000 in Melbourne.

Channel 10’s national audience last Saturday had fallen to just over 172,000 viewers, with 90,000 Melburnians tuning in for Derby Day.

EAGLE HAS LANDED

The Golden Eagle just works. A field of 18 classy four-year-olds charging around the Rosehill 1500m course for $7.5 million prizemoney makes for spectacular racing.

So it proved again on Saturday when Colette unleashed a powerful surge wide out to run down Icebath in a thrilling finish.
This was the second running of the Golden Eagle and Colette’s effort was comparable to Kolding’s exciting win last year.

Racing NSW’s decision to introduce the Golden Eagle caused plenty of controversy and debate but the race has quickly established itself as a spring carnival highlight.

The sheer joy shown by Godolphin trainer James Cummings and his team when Colette got the photo finish verdict proved how much this race means to industry participants.

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