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Hot to trot- stars saddle up for a show stampede

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The Easter Show
Horsewyse

Hot to trot- stars saddle up for a show stampede

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Royal Easter Show puts on a Canadian accent to round up the visitors
Anthony Dennis
What with wood-chopping, sheep-shearing and showbags, there's nothing more dinky-di, or dire, depending on your tastes, than Sydney's Royal Easter Show.
But this year's organisers are taking a maple leaf or two out of Canada's book as the show strives to transform itself.
A week before teh show, Canadain accents were echoing around teh showground's equine zone at Sydney Olympic Park.
Cast members of the cult (or perhaps colt) Australian-Canadian television co-production, The Saddle Club, Keenan Macwilliam, Sophie Bennett and Australian Lara Marshall were this week rehearsing a new "arena show" for the easter show.
The popular children's series, shot in Victoria, revolves around around teh friendship and adventures of three teenage girls and their devotion to horses and riding.
The Royal Argricultural Society of NSW hopes that The Saddl eClub Arena Show, to be staged in the Sydney SuperDome, will help to increase attendances to 1.5 million within 5 years.
The projection is based on Canada's Calgary Stampede, an event that put that cultural back into the word agricultural. Of its 1 million or so visitors about 30 percent are from overseas.
John Aitken, the RAS general manager of events and marketing, said The Saddle Club Arena Show was part of a strategy to keep the easter show relevant and expand the event beyond the showground's boundaries.
The Calgary Stemapede embraces the whole city. And the theme of The Saddle Club conforms with the RAS origins.
"We're the sixth biggest show of its type in the world, and we need to keep abreast of popular culture and what's hot and what's not," Mr. Aitken said.
The Saddle Club boasts millions of hits on its website, huge book sales, gold selling soundtrack albums, toys, accessories and even a fashion range.
Mr. Aitken hopes The Saddle Club Arena Show, which could potentially be seen by 250,000 people at teh SuperDome over the eastershow's two weeks, will be the type of event that will encourage more Sydneysiders to attend.
He said: "People who go to the Sydney Festival go every year because there's a different prgram and taht's what the Royal Easter Show needs to provide."
Mr. Aitken said the show's rebranding as The Great Australian Muster was dropped after the RAS realised the world Sydney was brand in itself overseas.
For the first time this year the show forms part of the NSW Gorernment's new Easter in Sydney Festival, uncluding the Autumn Racing Carnival and other sporting cultural events.