To quote philanthropist, public speaker and The New York Times best-selling author, Sarah Ban Breathnach, “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, what the world needs most are dreamers that do”.
Rightly or wrongly, the horseracing industry has at times been critiqued as one that has an abundance of doers - people that love the animal and whose passion is infectious, but is deficient when it comes to dreamers – those that think outside the square and have the creativity to move the sport forward.
Scottish couple David Rorison and Hayley Blythe Devlin-Rorison are doers and dreamers, and they are steadfast in their resolve to make racing accessible, engaging and fun.
Blythe Devlin-Rorison has dedicated her entire professional career to the thoroughbred industry. She has gained experience across the globe, in all facets of the industry, including breeding, yearling preparation and selection, racing and beyond. She has honed her skills with Godolphin, as well as Group 1-winning trainers Clive Cox, Grahame Begg and Joseph Pride.
Rorison started out as a stablehand, before moving to England to further develop his education in leading racing stables. He has worked with the great Gai Waterhouse, Inglis Digital, Michael Freedman and Godolphin.
The couple met in 2009 in Lambourn, a historic village in Berkshire, famous as one of the centres for horse racing in England with over 1500 horses in training at any one time. They moved to Sydney in 2011, where they have been since.
A desire to initiate change within the industry burned deeply, and in 2018, they embarked on an exciting new venture - Rorison Media - a business that produces engaging video and promotional content to improve a stable’s ability to communicate with their clients and a wider audience.
Having worked for some of the greatest racing minds in the world, and armed with more than 30 years’ combined industry experience, they were well-equipped to face the challenge head-on.
“We’ve been operating for four years and we work with some of the biggest trainers and buyers, including syndicators. On the buying side, we work with about 30 clients, including Ciaron Maher Racing – he’s one of our biggest clients, Godolphin, Michael Freedman, Annabel Neasham and Joe Pride. And on the selling side we work with a lot of the major studs, like Newgate (Farm), Segenhoe (Stud), Torryburn (Stud) and Kitchwin Hills (Stud),” Rorison told TDN AusNZ.
And now, their new baby, Stridyl - an open media platform, similar to realestate.com.au or carsales.com.au - where people can explore available ownership options with insightful guidance along the way to becoming an owner. Interested parties will be able to search and compare the best available horses at a range of prices to suit all budgets and ownership options.
“We’d been doing the media for four years and what we found from our own experience, being racing managers, was that if you purchase a horse there’s nowhere for you to access an engaged audience,” Rorison said. “If you’re buying or selling a house, you go to realestate.com.au, you go to carsales.com.au if you’re buying or selling a car. Maybe you don’t know all of your criteria.
“We’d been doing the media for four years and what we found from our own experience, being racing managers, was that if you purchase a horse there’s nowhere for you to access an engaged audience.” - David Rorison
“From our experience of selling bloodstock and building and syndicating with owners, the idea stemmed from the ability for trainers and syndicators to access an engaged audience, who may be looking to become racehorse owners or just like racehorse content.
“I had an experience when I was working with Michael Freedman about four years ago; he had just bought a horse and he said to me, ‘Go and sell it’. We had no database, Michael had just come back from Singapore, and I had no idea what to do. Prominent owner John O’Neill gave me some pointers on what not to do.
“You get through that well of owners quite quickly; that same owner gets offered 35 horses in their inbox after the sale with the same message.”
The importance of entertaining and educating
Still in its infancy, the website – stridyl.com – is currently host to a number podcasts; with guests including top trainer Annabel Neasham, Sky Racing's Kiersten Duke, Group 1-winning jockey Rachel King and international jockey Tom Marquand. There’s also an outstanding feature video on Artorius (Flying Artie) and his current English campaign.
In order to offer a diverse catalogue of curated and quality-produced, entertaining content, Stridyl also welcomes external creatives who wish to have their podcasts and other entertainment content hosted on the platform.
Rorison said their biggest distinguishing characteristic is their ability to build the audience through content, including short-form and long-form, podcasts, documentaries and interviews.
And soon, people will be able to browse and compare all available shares from some of Australia and New Zealand’s most trusted trainers and licensed syndicators.
“We’ve got a team of four at the moment and we’ll look to double that over the next 12 months,” Rorison explained.
“We create content, which creates work for Rorison Media as well, so it goes hand-in-hand. The more content we can create, the more reason there is for someone to visit the website. So, we become a lead generator for the syndications and trainers, because then we have an audience of why you would visit that website. Be engaged, be inspired, be educated, look at the resources, there’s everything to entice you to become a racehorse owner.
“So, essentially, in a nutshell, we’re a lead generator connecting the owners that wish to become involved and trusted trainers and licenced syndicators, which is currently not available as far as we can tell.”
“...we’re a lead generator connecting the owners that wish to become involved and trusted trainers and licenced syndicators, which is currently not available as far as we can tell.” - David Rorison
Blythe Devlin-Rorison added: “The website is split into two, so it’s almost like half Netflix, half realestate.com.au. You can come and learn under a no-pressure basis, you can gain the information that you want and then you will slowly be driven over to where that product is available for you, all while learning something.”
As the information tab on Stridyl’s Facebook page reads, “Where entertainment meets opportunity”.
As Blythe Devlin-Rorison recalls, “Stridyl is an idea that was born in a dark little corner of David’s head.
“The more he thought about it, the more he said, ‘I wonder if we could do this’, and I said, ‘Yeah, we could’, and then everyday we just fleshed it out more and more before it became a bit of a monster,” Blythe Devlin-Rorison said.
“When we did our market research, there was nothing like this out there, so we thought, ‘We had better do it now because it’s not happening’.”
Once they had confirmed they were moving forward, they set about coming up with a name for the venture.
As Rorison explained, the task what exhaustive and incredibly important.
“We had some brainstorming sessions and came up with a long list of potential names. Five per cent of them stick… they’re rated, they’re assessed, you ask family members, etc.,” he said.
“We went down the conventional route of trying to call it like ‘Turf Club’ or something with ‘Racing’ or ‘Thoroughbred’ in it, but it was just too hard for Google's SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and it was too hard to register with ASIC. So, we started having fun with names and just coming up with words that resonated and we got three we kept coming back to.
“We wanted something that was fun, two or three syllables, no more than nine letters, and we basically just made it up. We found the spelling didn’t matter too much, because Google could identify maybe what the person was trying to write.”