It was the ambitious eight-month project that brought together an alignment of stars befitting what Australia’s weight-for-age championship has showcased so spectacularly for the past century.
This was all about greatness, with a sense of history and tradition melding perfectly with the present.
It was about being the best because you beat the best.
This was the vision the Moonee Valley Racing Club wanted to capture as it prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the W.S. Cox Plate, first run in 1922, with a television ad campaign centred on the return of crowds to the awe-inspiring amphitheatre for the first time since champion Japanese mare Lys Gracieux won the 2019 edition.
Cathy Freeman during the shoot. Picture: Supplied
An array of Australian sporting superstars – Cathy Freeman, Ricky Ponting, Lauren Jackson, Jonathan Brown, Craig Bellamy and Cox Plate-winning jockey Glen Boss – provide the perfect symmetry. Their sustained success aligns with the rich tapestry of the Cox Plate.
“The Centenary running of the W.S. Cox Plate is a huge milestone for the club,” Moonee Valley’s general manager of marketing and communications Troy Ratcliffe said.
Jonathan Brown, Lauren Jackson, Glen Boss and Ricky Ponting with the Cox Plate at The Valley. Picture: Tony Gough
“We wanted to create a TVC (television commercial) worthy of this occasion that transcended the racing audience and helped us ingrain our signature race – which we think is Australia’s best – into the hearts and minds of all Australians.
“Strategically aligning ourselves with Australia’s best sportsmen and women was the perfect way to deliver these objectives and tap into a broader audience segment.”
Ratcliffe said the concept and the sourcing of the talent took the club on “an eight-month journey from concept creation, evolution and execution working closely with the team at RIOT Content.”
It meant a delicate juggling of busy schedules with all but one of the sporting superstars filmed on the one day, cheering from the iconic Valley grandstands.
Australian cricket great Ricky Ponting said it was “a heap of fun … it’s not every day you get to stand beside some of the greats of Australian sport to make an ad.”
The Cox Plate in front of Sydney Harbour.
“My favourite Cox Plate moment is Winx’s second win (in 2016) when she streeted the field by eight lengths.
“(It was) just amazing. This year’s race will be a lot closer than that!”
Triple AFL premiership player Jonathan Brown has been “hooked” on the great race for the past 30 years.
“From the moment I was a kid, and I asked my mum to back Super Impose in the legendary ‘92 Cox Plate, I was hooked! I can’t wait to be trackside on Saturday,” Brown said.
Ratcliffe said the club worked through the best candidates for the ad and couldn’t have been more pleased with the assembling of the champions of their respective sports.
“Whether it’s Cathy or Browny, ‘Punter’, Lauren, Craig or Glen Boss – you remember them for their achievements in their Colosseum,” he said.
“Those moments are etched in our memories – achievements by the best in their field.
“Flipping it round so they are witnessing the best is a perfect way to position the Ladbrokes Cox Plate as ‘Australia’s Best’ in this centenary year.”
Glen Boss during the shoot for the TV ad.
Fittingly, this milestone year marks the first time fans will be cheering on from all vantage points at the Cox Plate in three years — with the 2020 and 2021 races conducted closed doors due to the pandemic.
The unique roar of the crowd when the horses come out onto the track and the sense of expectation and excitement during the running of the race will be extra special this Saturday.
Asked what makes The Valley so unique, Ratcliffe said: “It’s the atmosphere and the people’s track. That unique amphitheatre and the cauldron-like atmosphere is quite unique.
“The Valley Roar which we highlight and capture in the (TVC) reverberates around the nation. It is hard to convey in words. You have to be here to experience it.”
Thankfully, we can be there this year … as we once more get up close and personal with the race where legends are made.
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