Story and Photos courtesy of Graham Potter and www.horseracingonly.com.au
By Robert Heathcote | Thursday, September 1, 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.Last week the Brisbane Racing Club held an 'awards' night to recognize the past year’s achievements from some of the local industry participants.I thought this was a great initiative from the club after a last year's Metropolitan Premierships were recognized by a rather informal medal presentation prior to a race meeting at Doomben. In fact, last year the Metropolitan trainers’ and jockeys’ premiership was not even included in the annual industry 'gala' awards ceremony which is on again this coming weekend. Fair to say my nose was just a touch bent out of shape over that as a number of my owners and friends had come along for the evening to celebrate winning my second 'Metropolitan' Premiership … but alas, I went home empty handed.I got over it pretty quickly! Maybe I am a little biased as I did win the Metropolitan Premiership, but I do feel the failure to recognize the Metropolitan Premiership last year maybe goes a little deeper than simply combining the number of provincial wins with the city wins to determine the training premiership!It was, to be honest, a little bit embarrassing, particularly compared with the way they do things in NSW and Victoria and the esteem with which those racing jurisdictions hold metropolitan racing!I believe that the pinnacle of this state’s racing should always be, like the other states in this country, the metropolitan racing venues.I think we should see the best horses, racing for the best prize money on the best tracks with the state's best jockeys on display.I would like it to be, as it is to a degree now, the goal for most owners and trainers to have a horse good enough to race and win in the city.Yes, I totally agree that provincial and country racing do have a vital role to play in the fabric of our racing society and it will always be very important, but I do believe there must be a goal at the top of the racing tree and it’s clearly shown that the betting turnover which is the fiscal lifeblood of the industry is best in metropolitan racing.I am not a financial expert in this area, but I do keep an eye on turnover figures at times. I don't wish to get too political with my views and there will be many say that I am surely biased with my opinion as I predominantly race on the metropolitan tracks, but so can anyone who wishes to.
'Chrissie Munce had a sensational year.'Other BRC awards winners included ...
I make no secret that I am happy to do most of my racing on the metropolitan tracks if the horses in my care are good enough. I believe we should make the goal of racing on the Metropolitan tracks an enticing target for everyone with a thoroughbred to aspire to. It should have a higher status within the thoroughbred industry, not just for the racing prize-money but particularly for the breeders and the betting public.Metropolitan racing must still have the allure to everyone involved to 'want to win in town'! A structured, tiered system is vital for industry sustainability and a vibrant and healthy Metropolitan racing scene is essential. Metropolitan Racing must have the full support of the industry administrator's … but sadly, that is not been the case for the past number of years!Like I said earlier, it's just an opinion and we all have those in racing!Is it a worthwhile exercise to give industry awards?If you had been at the BRC awards last week and seen the emotion from a number of the award winners, you would most certainly agree it is.You will often find the trainer and the jockey premierships will simply come down to the weight of numbers with the number of runners a trainer saddles up and the number of rides a jockey has for the season giving him or her an edge in the outcome.That should still not demean the effort required in such a fiercely competitive industry and I know Chrissie Munce had a sensational year and it was clearly my best year as a trainer, particularly in stakes races which is arguably the benchmark for success. It was great to see several lesser known racing people honoured on the evening such as little Dave Keogh and Bruce Ohlbrecht. They are track work riders who do the hard yards each and every morning … the unsung heroes of this industry which I blogged about last year! Certainly their acceptance speeches were not the longest of the evening and 'MC' Sophie Formica had more trouble coercing a few words out of Bruce than she did out of the usually 'very quiet' Kelso Wood. Kelso had a great year and there is little doubt his competitive fire still burns strongly.Perhaps the biggest cheer of the evening went to the Sky camera-man Joey Zoppi. Joey is one of racing's true 'gentlemen' and it was fantastic to see his contribution to the industry recognized.And do you think he was chuffed? He was extremely humbled and there was no more deserving recipient!Whilst the industry awards do seem to have more significance in the richer southern states, it doesn't take away from the value of the prestige of being recognized within your own industry.There won't be overseas holidays or truck loads of beer handed out as is the case down in Mexico, but it is immensely satisfying to have your name on the same list as some of racing's most illustrious names. In my case, it's an honour to have my name next to former premiership winners such as Bruce McLachlan and Alan Bailey among others.So, this Saturday night will see the 'Gala Awards' night for the industry … the ‘Academy Awards’ for the thoroughbred industry which will bring racing participants together from all over the State.One lavish evening a year to recognize the industry achievements. We all deserve that, I guess, as we all know the commitment required for the other 364 days of the year at the grindstone.I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate each award recipient because I know exactly how much effort and commitment has been required to reach your achievement!There will be many who will not receive an award but perhaps who are just as equally deserving, but I would think that just being part of this wonderful industry of horse racing is reward enough.Cheers for now. Robert
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