Story and Photos courtesy of Graham Potter and www.horseracingonly.com.au
By Robert Heathcote | Thursday, August 4, 2011
Robert Heathcote is the leading racehorse trainer in Brisbane. 'Rob's Shout' - the personal blog of the multi-premiership winning trainer will appear every Thursday on HRO.Let’s start with a happy birthday to all of the horses as they turn a year older. Yes, that signifies a new racing season where the slate is cleaned and we all start again. The feats of the last season are forgotten and it’s onto the new year.Whilst there will be a little bit of celebrating the feats of the past season where my stable had another stella year, we will not be dwelling too much on what’s past as we now concentrate on getting the job done for season 2011/2012.Is the new racing season like the new year of the 'Gregorian Calendar'? Do we start afresh with a clean slate and even with 'New Year Resolutions'?Unfortunately for the racing industry we do not start with a fresh new clean slate.There is still a huge amount of turmoil in the industry which is a crying shame and I don't know if the many problems will even be solved in this current racing season.The uncertainty in our industry is certainly very frustrating and the next year, I feel, may even be more tumultuous than the year that has just past.
The fighting in-battles continue from the Gold Coast, where a group of high profile candidates are trying to roll into power, to Toowoomba, where an individual committeeman continues to take the club to task in a battle which looks like it could go on almost as long as America's stay in Iraq. I see now an independent barrister has been commissioned to investigate the problems in the club! Disturbing indeed, but it has to be done I guess!Another long drawn-out and very costly court case with the Albion Park showdown. The on-going angst between the ruling body and the BRC and thegenerally cool response to the proposed allocation of the supposed $110 million bonanza injection of funds into racing. The Deagon situation leaving trainers in limbo … and so it goes on.I guess more mudslinging will now take place with the alleged offer to buy Doomben for $40 million by Racing Queensland and the supposed refusal of the BRC to take the offer to the members, let alone accept the offer. I do however believe that it is not as simple as that as the ensuing days may well reveal.Perhaps this is another attempt to embarrass either side of the metropolitan racing spectrum, but I fear the embarrassment is on the industry itself.In such challenging times that the industry faces, we should be united.I do believe the recession that hit a few years back may well have been a precursor of worse things to come.The States (USA) look like they have plenty of woes balancing the books and printing off a few more trillion dollars is only going to delay the inevitable. They are usually a barometer of world economics and Italy and Spain are about to join Greece with plenty of fiscal problems and the 'stronso' looks like it's about to hit the fan in those countries and certainly more countries to come!I see things getting worse in our industry and our economy before they get better.For trainers and jockeys the new season means the scoreboard goes back to zero and they have a chance to take a step back, review past performance and set new goals. More is the pity that some of those more concerned about their power play do not do the same.A critical self-appraisal of past performance might head off some of the 'disasters' that have arguably served racing so badly.It is not easy to set long term aims in an industry which continues to show how troubled and fragmented it is instead of getting together to find solutions and rise to the challenge, but those who make their living out of the game have to retain some focus and the best trainers can do is to look after their own business as best they can under imperfect circumstances.Maybe the term setting goals isn't entirely accurate, well in my case anyway.Sure it's nice to have something to set as a target, particularly as I have won the premiership the past three years. It will like nice to have a fourth one on the CV but it is not the overriding importance for the upcoming year. Maybe even getting that elusive Group 1 winner is a worthy goal to set!For me it's all about giving every individual horse in our care the opportunity to produce their best on the race track. If that is measured in terms of actual wins then so be it. My reward is the knowledge that we have got the best out of each horse!I was recently asked if I would trade a premiership win for a coveted Group 1 win that has so far eluded me? I don't have an answer for that because if it happens great, if it doesn't we will just keep trying and hoping the right horse will come along. I do indeed think I do have the right horse as Woorim was stiff not to win maybe two G1s last year!So if I did have a wish list for the new season on a personal level what would it be? You know, I don't really have one as I am content with the knowledge that we are rolling along nicely, I have some nice horses in my care, some great owners and a stable which I think can continue our good recent form of the past few years … although I have learned not to stick my neck out to far in this caper. On an industry level that wish list may well be a bit different.I would love to have an early state election so that, whoever wins, racing knows where it stands and can move forward, instead of having to endure the uncertainly that exists now?I would love to see an increase in the midweek prize money levels and to see the status and importance of mid week racing increase. A move back to eightraces on mid week Wednesdays would be a positive sign of that!Racing is seriously challenged at present but I maintain that Metropolitan racing must be the flag bearer for the state and the current lack of harmony and muchneeded financial assistance is wrong! Not including the BRC in the $110 dollar infrastructure plans is embarrassing. The track needs replacing and a tunnel is a must, so why can't it be done given the importance that metropolitan racing has in the state?Yes I know, the club have their own development plans, but everyone knows they do not have the money for the much needed improvements!The infrastructure improvements are no doubt needed at most racing venues in this state, but the higher profile Metropolitan venues should be at the top of the list.It's important that some sort of harmony come to the industry whereby good intentions are matched by appropriate actions and egos are flattened andremoved from the playing field!Maybe finding a new champion racehorse might be easier to achieve than the 'harmony' item … but who knows what the next twelve months will throw up.After all, we are all optimists otherwise we wouldn't be here!
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