James Kennedy Chats Sponsorships & Slots Before Climbing Everest
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James Kennedy Chats Sponsorships & Slots Before Climbing Everest

James Want
James Want



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During James Kennedy’s father’s tenure atop the family business, the watch industry was almost a by-product of the jewellery industry. Today, that’s still a common theme – jewellers (or ex-jewellers) selling watch brands – however, watches are now a highly coveted, standalone luxury product, thanks in part to websites like this one.

Demand has pushed beyond horological connoisseurs to the general enthusiast and now to everyday people. James Kennedy knows that reaching them in Australia relies on effective brand alignments across sport and racing, including Christian Petracca and the AFL, as well as the world’s richest turf race.

A name synonymous with racing in Victoria, Kennedy inked his VRC sponsorship in 2017, securing naming rights for Oaks Day and becoming the official timing partner, strategically positioning his brand across racing’s biggest week. Speaking to James, he’s straightforward about the alignment being a commercial business decision. 

“The sports sponsorships are very much about building our integrity as a brand so that we’re trusted, we have a strong reputation, and we align with highly quality executions. It’s about trying to speak to a broader audience, outside of the watch-centric lines of communication. The VRC is a strong organisation, a great spectacle, and it aligns well with our brand and our consumers. It doesn’t just speak to the uber-wealthy either, it speaks to all walks (of life).” 

So what drew James to The Everest? Acquiring a slot would allow him to enter a runner from his own stable ‘Kennedy Racing,’ which he founded in 2019, provided he had a horse fit for the job. However, like VRC, it was more of an opportunity to push the Kennedy business presence in NSW.

“It was important for us to build the same principles of integrity, reputation, and awareness that we had established in VIC,” says James.

“It’s a good concept, it has been great for racing and it has increased prize money across the board, which is only a good thing.” 

Unfortunately for James, he’s yet to pick a candidate from his own stable, with Embracer running in 2021, and Overpass filling the slot this year.

“The team was creating shortlists of top sprinters, excluding those who’d already been picked, and we spent the previous 12 weeks looking at performances,” explains James.

“All the horses we kept earmarking as potentials were not performing.”

In the end, Overpass’ team, with trainer Bjorn Baker, came to Kennedy with a clear plan for the 4YO coming into The Shorts, and off the back of beating Nature Strip in his trial on September 1st. A deal was negotiated prior to The Shorts, in which he ran eventually ran second to Nature Strip, and James officially announced the stallion in his slot on September 28th. 

“How can Overpass turn the tables on Nature Strip in The Everest?” I ask.

“Well, he got barrier 12,” replies James.

“However tough it might be, that surely makes it a little bit tougher. If we get a dry track – either a good 4 or soft 5 – I genuinely think this horse can finish top three. He’s definitely good enough, he’s got the ability.” 

While James is adamant truly great horses will win regardless of the situation, ultimately, racing is circumstantial he admits.

”From the draw you get, to draw everyone else gets, to the jump you get, the jump everyone else gets, all define how that race is going to unfold. That’s the unique thing with racing, there’s always a bit of luck in there.”

Speculation aside, James is clearly passionate about everything that comes with racing, excited to get back into the birdcage, see customers and friends, and soak in the occasion.

“I just want to enjoy it for the spectacle it is.”

As a watch fan myself, I have to ask…

“What are you pulling out of the safe for Oaks Day?”

“I’ve got a couple of Pateks I bought this year – there’s not many I can buy,” he laughs.

“I’ll probably wear one of those.”

It’s reassuring to know even the man himself struggles to buy Patek Philippe.

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James Want
James is the co-founder of Luxity Media and managing editor of Boss Hunting and B.H. Magazine. He has more than twelve years experience writing, photographing, producing, and publishing both earned and paid content in the men's lifestyle space.



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