LIKE any other professional sport, racing needs its stars.
Forget the fads and the gimmicks, the standouts of the equine world easily remain the sport's biggest pulling power, as Black Caviar so aptly showed during her reign as undisputed champion.
Black Caviar was a rarity though - an elite athlete in a superstar mould - but a horse does not have to become a national celebrity to play its part in uplifting the face of racing.
They can even fit the role by simply becoming a big fish in a small pond and providing the local community with a real sense of pleasure and pride at the performance of their "champion".
The positive spin-off for racing is as important at grassroots level as it is anywhere else.
Take the case of Our Boy Malachi, the pride of Rockhampton.
Last Thursday the strong, good-looking chestnut landed his 13th win from 15 starts when taking out the Rockhampton Newmarket. In doing so, Our Boy Malachi became the first horse in 48 years to complete a Newmarket double and, with 59kg on his back, he became the highest weighted winner of the race in the past 34 years.
In essence, Our Boy Malachi was up against history as much as the opposition, but he was good enough to overcome the odds - in spite of knuckling badly and nearly losing his rider in the first few strides - and remain unbeaten on Rockhampton turf, where he has won eight races.
The emotion etched on the faces of the winning owners and the reaction of hobby trainer John O'Sing, as Our Boy Malachi returned to scale, demonstrated their admiration for what the five-year-old had achieved, and that rich vein of genuine feeling spread throughout the local community as they celebrated another victory of their champion. And, more than anything else, racing was the winner on the day.
Can Our Boy Malachi hold his own against tougher opposition should he venture down south in future?
Everybody will wish him well if he does, but the truth is it really doesn't matter if he does or not. He is Rockhampton's champion racehorse and, in achieving that distinction, he has helped raise the profile of racing in Rockhampton to the degree that he and his team have done racing proud.
RACING Queensland has announced its vision for industry success.
According to the Racing Queensland's chief executive officer, "the industry's future success hinges on its ability to sell a contemporary racing experience to the next generation of racegoers".
The CEO added, "Queensland's vision would be built around capitalising on the industry's strengths, connecting with communities and driving innovation to offer the ultimate consumer experience."
Really? Look, I'm not knocking the proud intention or, hopefully, the ultimately achieved outcome.
Just one question. If Racing Queensland thinks it can do that for the next generation of racegoers, how is it that it seemingly cannot satisfy many of its existing customers - some of whom have been loyal for decades - in terms of the "consumer experience" they talk about.
It's just a thought, but maybe they should lower the binoculars and deal with what is in front of them first before getting ahead of themselves.
*Graham Potter is the managing editor of horseracingonly.com.au
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