As we round out July, the 2018/19 racing season is coming to a close and the anticipation for Spring is just around the corner.
When I reflect on the past season, many highlights come to mind. Our industry and the general public alike have embraced the amazing Winx and witnessed her win an unprecedented four Cox Plates.
A raft of new races and initiatives were launched including the public-voted All Star Mile, an Odds & Evens bet type, NSW’s $7.5 million Golden Eagle, not to mention the massive prizemoney increases across the racing calendar.
*Mystic Journey won the inaugural All Star Mile at Flemington (Racing Photos)
Ballarat Turf Club has installed a new synthetic racetrack, Warrnambool Racecourse is under redevelopment and construction of the new Moonee Valley has also commenced.
Racing Victoria continued to engage with local communities with the introduction of the Saddle Up school holiday program. Held across various racecourses, the program provides primary school aged children a fun opportunity to meet and ride horses, learn from participants such as jockeys, vets and race callers and participate in a range of horse-related activities.
Female jockeys continue to break down barriers and make a solid impression on the racetrack. Ride Like A Girl, the film about the story of the first female Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne, has finished production and will hit cinemas in late September.
On a personal level, I’ve had the opportunity to recommence my own business and operate as a freelancer. I’ve once again been part of the coaching team of Benji’s Under 11's AFL team and whilst we couldn’t make it back-to-back premierships again, it’s taught me so much more about team work, football and parenting! I’ve met and worked with some fantastic people and had the chance to witness Irish and French racing firsthand.
No doubt the upcoming racing season will once again produce some amazing highlights for the sport. At broodmare and stud farms across the country, a potential future champion is about to be born. Owners will experience the thrill of not only big race wins, but also the maiden victories of their racehorses. Fashionistas have already begun preparing their outfits for the competitive and lucrative Fashions on the Field competitions. Jockeys and trainers will continue to strive towards their personal and professional goals. Track riders, strappers, barrier attendants, farriers and vets will go about their daily work ensuring their charges remain in the best of shape and have the best of care.
In an impressive interstate collaboration between the Melbourne Racing and Australian Turf Club, the winner of The Schillaci Stakes on 12 October will be granted a slot in NSW’s The Everest the following week. International runners are again set to travel here to compete for our coveted trophies.
Unfortunately, the Spring Carnival also brings with it negative and, sometimes inaccurate, media attention, to which our industry doesn’t always actively respond. Whatever your opinion of racing and in this digital age of click bait, fake news and sensationalist journalism, I implore you to take a moment to really consider what you read and the source of the information before you ‘like’ and ‘share’. Whilst anti-racing activists might stake out racecourse entry gates with their placards, the organisations they represent usually have their own agendas that have nothing to do with real animal welfare projects.
The start of the new racing season also brings with it the end (for the moment) of my freelance work and the recommencement of my role working with the industry’s international visitors over Spring Carnival. As such, this blog will once again be put on the back burner, however I will continue to share stories and events on my Racing Girl Blog Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Do you have a highlight from the past season? I'd love to hear it!
Again, I thank you for your support and readership over the past 6 months and I wish everyone a fantastic, and safe, second half to 2019!
*L to R: Accepting the Horse of the Year Award for Trapeze Artist, Enjoying the reopening day of Ireland's The Curragh.