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By Robert Heathcote | Thursday, August 1, 2013

Robert Heathcote is the leading racehorse trainer in Brisbane. 'Rob's Shout' - the personal blog of the multi-premiership and Group 1 winning trainer will appear every Thursday on HRO, workload permitting.

Yes, one door closes and another opens!

I like that saying and that’s pretty much what has now happened with the new racing season. Last year is now done and dusted and 1st August has kicked off the new racing season with a clean slate.

My stable had a very good season with just over 100 winners for the year coming out of our yard … ninety-eight in Qld and a couple of Group 2s in Melbourne with Buffering and the memorable Group 1 win of Solzhenitsyn in the Toorak at Caulfield.

Of course that gives us a lot of personal satisfaction but realistically it’s just a matter of doing the best job we can with the horses we have in our care.

I was delighted with many of the stable horses doing better than I thought they would and by the same token there were some in my yard who didn’t perform as well as I had hoped or predicted, but maybe this season will bring the best of them!

Anyway, one season ends and a new one kicks off straight away.

I reckon the system in Hong Kong is a good idea where there is a short break between seasons, but the reality is that our industry could not afford to close down for any length of time. It’s a nice thought though as racing, as it is now, is pretty much a 24/7 gig for the industry participants and it certainly does wear you down after a long year.

Ask any racehorse trainer in Queensland and they will tell you that the last seven months of the season have been extremely frustrating and it was hardly surprising the season finished with another rain affected track at Doomben.


Along with the new racing season we have a new racing administration, a newly structured RQ Board, a new CEO of our industry and hopefully some new found enthusiasm to reinvigorate an industry which sadly has been headed in the wrong direction this past decade.

There are enormous plans in place at ‘Headquarters’ (Eagle Farm ) with a much needed new track on the agenda along with the master plan to develop the aging archaic facilities.

The new board’s marketing campaign ‘We Race As One’ is all about a new found positivity in racing which is a message we have to get out to as many people in this state as we can.

It’s a no brainer how important this industry is to the state’s economy and the lives of many, over 30,000 people directly or indirectly make their living out of racing let alone the many thousands of punters who invest regularly in the game every time they have a punt.


Personally it is very satisfying to win premierships with the Brisbane title this year being the fifth consecutive year we have achieved that honour.

In essence though, winning premierships doesn’t change a lot of things with the primary goal always being, as I have said, just to get the best we can out of each and every horse in our care.

It easy to argue that winning premierships is all about having the numbers and I guess to a degree that is right. My stable had the most runners for the year in the state and therefore won the most races … if only it were that simple.


My stable size has reached the most I care to have in work. We usually have about 60 in work which is as many as I want to work with at any one time.

It is extremely time consuming and for that reason I can only see my operation getting smaller in the years to come. That may well mean having a lesser chance of winning another premiership but so be it.

I feel I have reached a point where the balance of work to leisure and costs to profit isn’t what it used to be and perhaps there’s a message in that for the politicians and administrators of where this industry is headed!

I do know there are a lot in the industry ‘doing it a bit tough’ but, in the famous words of Malcolm Fraser, ’Life wasn’t meant to be easy’ … and we all know that the racing caper is not an easy walk in the park!


The pressure to succeed for every trainer with every horse in their care is always there, maybe in a larger stable the expectations are higher to perform?

The financial burdens are certainly huge but with that comes the financial rewards if it all comes together as it has for me this season.

But, that’s all over now and a new one kicks off this week.

A goal for the upcoming year? Nah, I am not really into setting goals, I am just happy to meet the challenge of getting the horses in our care to race up to the very best of their ability and to stay healthy and happy.

I think I need a holiday though. It has been a long year!

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Robert Heathcte
Robert Heathcte
Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best