Fitt Entain

By Dennis Ryan

20 Sep 2023

Fitt EntainEntain’s Cameron Rodger and Lachlan Fitt at Hastings on Tarzino Trophy Daffodil Day.

There’s a certain serendipity that the first champion galloper to draw Lachlan Fitt to racing was Sunline.
Growing up in the cotton-growing country of deep inland New South Wales, Fitt was just into his teens in the last 1990s when racing first piqued his interest. By the time he entered the workforce several years later, the lure of iconic thoroughbreds was irresistible – he was in racing for life.
“There was no racing in my immediate background, although my grandpop was involved in some way in a few horses,” Fitt recalls. “Sunline was the horse that first caught my attention, then it was Lonhro, and it just went from there.
“Sunline’s first Cox Plate win in 1999, when she just left them behind, if there’s a single race that got me hooked, that was it. Lonhro was next, I can still remember exactly Greg Miles’ commentary when he got up to just beat Delzao in the Australian Cup.”
Sunline’s 13 Group One wins earned four New Zealand and three Australian Horse of the Year titles as well as induction to both the New Zealand and Australian Racing Hall of Fame.
At risk of drawing a long bow, the champion Kiwi-bred, owned and trained racemare can now take some of the credit for where the New Zealand racing industry has recently landed, with Fitt right in the middle of the revival.
As Chief Financial Officer of Entain Australia and New Zealand, Fitt has played a key role alongside the group’s Chief Executive Dean Shannon and the recently installed New Zealand-based management team in lifting the game to a level that up until just months ago was unimaginable on this side of the Tasman.
Stakes increases at all levels of thoroughbred races amounting to something like a 30 per cent lift have been followed by a raft of initiatives, from securing a slot for NZ-bred and owned sprinter I Wish I Win in The Everest, to a doubling in value NZB Insurance Pearl Series incentives for fillies and mares, joining forces with NZTR in the Grand Tour series of Iconic and Premier race meetings, boosting New Zealand’s most successful Punter of the Year competition on Livamol Classic day at Hastings, partnering with clubs and sponsors to boost various races including at the Karaka Millions twilight meeting, and the most recent Entain announcement, the TAB Racing Club seeded by $1.5 million worth of yearlings from the Karaka ring in January.
At the core of this massive uplift in returns and incentives is the strategic partnership between Entain and TAB NZ, whereby from August 1 Entain’s Australian-based parent body took operational control of the TAB, including its broadcast arm Trackside TV, and with that all those previously employed under the former umbrella. And right in the middle of that step-change has been Lachlan Fitt, not yet 40 years old but with a wealth of experience from his time in the wagering industry and the skills he has developed in commercial strategy.
“My first job once I had completed my studies was with Macquarie Bank in Newcastle, and mainly through my brother working at Arrowfield Stud, the interest I already had in racing became stronger,” Fitt told RaceForm. “I got my first wagering job with Tabcorp, where I remained for four and a half years before I introduced myself to Dean Shannon a year after he had launched Neds.
“He took me on in November 2018 and we’ve worked closely together since; it’s been great pulling our individual skills together and now we’re bringing all that the brand has to offer to New Zealand.
“We’ve got some big plans heading into 2024, we’ve already put our hands in our pockets to support racing in New Zealand and there’s a lot more to come.”
The first quarter of next year has been earmarked for the launch of a new TAB website, incorporating what already exists locally with the full suite of technologies from Entain, which includes a revolutionary platform specifically developed by Shannon.
The New Zealand TAB’s broadcast arm Trackside TV as well as its retail chain of betting venues are seen as key elements in the Entain plan.
“Our core aim is the best wagering product for New Zealand, one that will attract a new market by giving them the right tools,” Fitt said. “We plan to revamp the retail network and use Trackside as a crucial medium in selling racing and sports, engaging and telling people the races are on.
“We talk a lot about the virtuous circle that requires all the parts of the industry to come together, and in the short time that we’ve been involved it’s been great to see the industry come along with us – that’s so important to making this whole thing work.”
Fitt is just one member of the team excited at the prospect of Entain’s biggest single push, I Wish I Win’s bid to win the world’s richest turf race, the A$20 million The Everest at Randwick on October 14.
“The Everest slot is a gold-plated opportunity for New Zealand to become directly involved in what has become the most talked-about race in Australasia.
“Having that slot will enable us to put racing in mainstream headlines. I know it’s an Australian race but now New Zealand is involved with its own horse, one with a unique and exciting profile.
“We’re going to spare nothing in getting the story out there, so that by October 14 we want as many New Zealanders as possible watching racing that day.”