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By Robert Heathcote | Thursday, July 28, 2011

Robert Heathcote is the leading racehorse trainer in Brisbane. 'Rob's Shout' - the personal blog of the premiership winning trainer will appear every Thursday on HRO.

Some of you may know that I do a little bit of cycling in my 'spare time' and boy, have the last three weeks been a smorgasbord for cycling fans around the world with the fantastic achievement of our very own Cadel Evans winning the Tour De France.

I was so inspired by his brilliant time trial on Saturday night / Sunday morning that I couldn't wait to jump on my bike and have a ride.

I actually rode 42kms which is the same distance as the Grenoble time-trial. I won't embarrass myself with telling you the time I did it in, but I was around the 30km per hour mark for the average. The pros go at about an average of 46km per hour which includes some hill riding so they are simply flying. Incredible pain threshold indeed.

In my eyes, Evan’s win in the Tour De France rates right up there with the greatest single achievement of any sportsman in Australian history. To have been runner up twice and then to become the oldest winner since the war is quite remarkable. It is quite something for an Aussie to knock the Europeans off in their own back yard.

Is there a parallel in our Equine industry?

Yes, I think there is!

Black Caviar winning 13 consecutive races including six Group 1s and Makybe Diva winning three Melbourne Cups! They rate as the most extraordinary sporting achievements in my lifetime anyway!

Maybe I am biased to a degree as I love cycling, but I actually don't think the parallels in Cadel’s win end with just the win!

Racing can be a tough and demanding industry with its highs and the invariable lows. I know because I have been there in my relative short training career to date.

From a period of poor form, when I struggled to win a race for about three or four months due to a stable virus, through a period of financial insecurity in my early days as a trainer and then perhaps the toughest hurdle for me when the racing judiciary handed me a massive penalty for a rule 'indiscretion'.

This was about 10 years ago and that time was the low point of my career and, to be honest, I came very close to' throwing the towel in' and walking away from the industry.

I believed I was extremely harshly treated and I had basically two options! Walk away or take it on the chin and fight back!

I decided to choose the latter and, looking back now, I do think that period made me a more determined person and trainer than ever to succeed in this industry. It was very much a case of head down and bum up and work as hard as possible to get back up off the canvas!

The wound took some healing but I certainly now do have a greater respect for the controlling role the judiciary have within our industry.

The discipline and determination required to achieve a goal is exactly what Cadel Evans demonstrated in achieving his lifelong goal in winning the holy grail of cycling.

For me personally, winning my third Metropolitan Premiership is not my holy grail, but it does provide me with enormous personal satisfaction! The 'Holy Grail' is still out there!

Just like team BMC have helped Cadel win the Tour, teamwork is just as vital in racing. To run a successful stable requires an excellent stable routine with all the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed.

I believe a good stable environment with an easy going relaxed atmosphere and attentive staff are vital ingredients to success. A good daily routine is good for not only the working staff but essential for the mental health and wellbeing of the horses.

Sure, it may be just a job for many in this industry but the stable staff and track riders really are the unsung heroes in this industry. (I think I wrote a blog on that quite some time ago?).

Maybe again the parallel can be taken with the cycle race? Cadel Evans won the race, but in his own mind he will say his team has won the race!

A jockey and a trainer generally get all the plaudits after a horse’s win, but I can very much assure you that it is always a team effort from the very day that young
horse is born!

Whilst my stable has not been conquering the Alps this past few weeks, we have certainly had a very successful period with our second successive metro winning treble.

That has taken the seasons tally to 61.5 which I believe has only ever been done by the late, great Bruce McLachlan and Gerald Ryan.

I am very humbled to have my name associated with two 'greats' of the industry.

My stable has built up nicely this past few years and I am fortunate that I have been given massive support from a wonderful team of owners which I have built up over the years.

Simmering and Solzhenitsyn, and for that matter Work The Room, are relative
newcomers on the scene here in Brisbane but I believe they are three horses who can firmly leave their mark in racing on the local scene!

I am delighted for John Taylor and Peter Catterall, the main shareholder's in Work The Room who were instrumental in getting the big horse up to me from Melbourne.

He has had a lifetime of soundness issues and it was starting to look pretty grim for him, but we have managed to get him going again after some early frustrations.

I must admit, I did chuckle to myself when so many in the racing media put the knocks on him because he has been a beaten favourite a few times.

The horse doesn't know what price he is and circumstances simply haven't gone his way with tempo and maybe his confidence was a bit low. A horse like this bloke will always be a risky betting proposition, but that's just the way it is.

I know I am glad to have him in the stable and his owners were pretty happy to win the LISTED race last Saturday!

We didn't give up on him and we all had a few bob on him! He doesn't owe us

My measure of success is getting the best out of a horse. This is not always possible EVERYTIME they race as many horses are indeed a work in progress and that's very much the case with Work The Room.

It's foolish to think that a racehorse will run up to its best every time it steps onto a racetrack and that's why there are certain fools who will get off on bagging horses when they don't win. That's just the way it is.

Most horses will get beaten more times than they win. In all likelihood, Black Caviar will get beaten one day, then what, she will get potted?

Cadel Evans may well get beaten in the upcoming world championships but that will not make him any less of a champion. Just like any horse who has won a Group 1 race does not deserve to be denigrated because they cannot do it time and time again as some expect!

When any horse wins a Group 1 race, in my eyes that horse deserves plenty of respect …and that's for lifetime.

A Group 1 winning jockey can slaughter one at Ipswich but he or she is still a group 1 winning jockey!

This is the final week of the 2010 / 2011 racing season and I would like to say a special thanks to the many who have helped make this a fantastic year for our stable.

The highlights have been far too many to mention individually but to my band of wonderful owners who are more like friends than clients, thank you for your loyal support.

My staff, from Melissa, Robert and Michael at the helm, my track riders, Peter, Melanie, Renita, Stevie and Les and of course the stable hands, Debbie, Josh, Roley, Toby, Alyce and Adam among others who are just as vital to keep the wheels of the stable turning.

Thank you also to my farrier, Chris McMullen, who's had to do it tough this past year with all of the rain and sodden ground which has caused us plenty of headaches.

Kevie and Pauline Thomas and the crew at Washpool Lodge, thank you for the wonderful job you do with many of our horses.

A very, very special thank you for my long suffering wife Vicky who has to put up with me with the ungodly hours us trainers keep and the emotional highs and lows that tend to go hand in hand with this industry.

Good health to you all.


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Work The Room
He took my stable's tally to 61.5 metropolitan winners for the season.

It is the final week of the season and I want to say a special thanks to the many people who have helped make this a fantastic year.
Work The Room
He took my stable's tally to 61.5 metropolitan winners for the season.

It is the final week of the season and I want to say a special thanks to the many people who have helped make this a fantastic year.
A very special thank you to my long suffering wife Vicky.
A very special thank you to my long suffering wife Vicky.
A big thanks to my staff which has Melissa ...
A big thanks to my staff which has Melissa ...
Robert ...
Robert ...
and Michael at the helm.
and Michael at the helm.
And to my band of wonderful owners who are more like friends than clients ...
And to my band of wonderful owners who are more like friends than clients ...
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