Australian Horse Racing
Australian Horse Racing

Australia Comes Of Age

(Image : Travel Australia / ABC)

“An inborn fetish for the horse game, extraordinary purses,

and some remarkable strategizing and marketing, has positioned racing as the glamour industry of the new millennium.”

Mick Goss
Mick Goss

Mick Goss

Summerhill Stud CEOEvents under the Morton Fig tree at Inglis’ Newmarket Sales complex in Sydney drew to a close on last week. You need only look at the strength of their currency to know that Australia is one of the economic success stories of the modern era. While nobody has been untouched by the global financial meltdown of the past five years, Australia is one of the few countries to have emerged stronger than before. This is no more reflected in any sector than in the racing world, where an inborn fetish for the horse game, extraordinary purses, and some remarkable strategizing and marketing, has positioned racing as the glamour industry of the new millennium.

Twice last week, the A$3million record set by Markus Jooste and Charles Laird at the same sales ring seven years ago, was not just passed, but smashed, with Black Caviar’s half-brother by Redoute’s Choice scaling the heights at A$5million (getting on for R50million) and a son of Fastnet Rock banking A$4million on the final day.

The Aussies have come to believe in themselves, and especially in their domestic products, and here we speak not only of racehorses, but in virtually every realm in which they operate. Witness the confidence with which their sportsmen confront the world, at the faith Australians have in their own judgment and the confidence they invest in their home-grown stallions, and you know that they can live on their own resources without any complex of inferiority in any sphere. Indeed, revisit the top twenty prices on the sale, and you’ll find that whilst the list is punctuated by the odd son or daughter of a foreign-based stallion, the bulk of the big achievers descend from their own “Colonial” bred stock, and in particular, Fastnet Rock and Redoute’s Choice. It’s true that Australians owe the presence of these two stallions to the remarkable shuttle sire Danehill, who singlehandedly changed the entire face of Australasian breeding in the 1990s, but who is handsomely succeeded by these two outstanding sons, the one the rage of the 2000s, and Fastnet Rock peerless in his current dominance.

There are a couple of things that have conspired in favour of Australian racing and breeding, the first of which is their genetic predisposition for, and their love of, the game. It is palpably apparent on any Australasian racecourse, whether it takes place at what they call “in town”, or at one of the more than a hundred country racecourses. I’ve been to a “picnic” race meeting in South Australia, where some 40,000 pack into a place which looks more like a meadow in the days before and after, but which has been the focus of its community for well over a century now. The second is that the Australian government appreciates the value and the contribution racing makes to the economy, knowing that it’s not only the greatest job creator they have and a significant contributor to state coffers, but that the modern Australian thoroughbred is an enormous generator of foreign investment. To be frank, while the Aussies are pretty darn good horsemen themselves, they have nothing like the natural reservoir of talented stockmen we have.

All we need is for government to appreciate what we can do for the economy and for job creation; all we need is for the playing fields with the casinos and bookmakers to be levelled, a little help in getting our exports sorted and a bit of encouragement, and we can all dream.

That’s all we need; because Mike de Kock has already shown the world how good our horses are.

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