I’m continuing my treatise on the evolution of the Scone Race Club. Rightly or wrongly this has featured powerfully in my lifetime. There have been many changes. This article by Craig Young in the Sydney Morning Herald marks a high point.
Centre of Excellence
Craig Young lit the fuse in his seminal article in the Sydney Morning Herald (17/05/10) ‘Scone presents excellent opportunity to produce something special’. Young wrote: “Now thoroughbred racing has a strategic plan, why not start at Scone? Do at least one job properly. Turn the track in the centre of Australian racing’s equine heartland into something to behold: a racing and training facility the envy of the rest of the country. England has Newmarket, France has Deauville, the US has Kentucky and Ireland has the famous Curragh,” Scone Race Club chairman Noel Leckie said on Friday when told the Hunter Valley team was set to create history again. ”All those places are major breeding centres that enjoy their own internationally famous racing carnivals. Scone’s internationally recognised thoroughbred breeding industry can join this world-leading racing group and provide great opportunities for our region with a carnival program that compares favourably with our international counterparts. So Scone can lead the way for racing. The time is right. Why doesn’t the racing industry rally behind this opportunity like never before? Self-interest – racing’s one certainty – will likely again intervene but there is hope. Well, Scone is ripe for a rebuild. We’re not talking about erecting an architectural-award-winning grandstand (it has one) that will cost a fortune, but putting in training tracks, stables, walking machine, pools, etc. Scone equine hospital is already there. Then there is Inglis Bloodstock, the equine auction house. Remember, this historic mob is selling up at Kensington, around the corner from Randwick racetrack in Sydney, and moving out west to Warwick Farm. With it the much-neglected Warwick Farm may well become a centre of excellence the envy of all. What an opportunity awaits at Scone. That strategic plan (Racing NSW) talks about funding such developments, for it ‘is a crucial element of the investment in infrastructure to be undertaken by Racing NSW’. Racing NSW expects to pump in $70m over the next five years to make these centres a reality. Anyway, what better time to strike than now? The Scone Race Club certainly isn’t sitting still. It has turned its annual Scone Cup meeting into a celebration of racing. Last Friday’s (14/05/10) was yet another striking example. The surrounding studs – too many to mention – are the most influential in thoroughbred racing and they’ve jumped on board with the SRC. That’s excellent”.
I agree! This initiative provides for Scone what no other country race club has ever achieved in the 200 years since the first ‘official’ race meeting was hosted by Governor Macquarie at Hyde Park. What did you say latterly about ‘John the Messiah’ Craig? Sounds like manna from heaven to me! Has the Scone Race Club rested on its laurels? No it has not! Prescient and innovative chairman Noel Leckie and others met with the Minister for Tourism and Minister for the Hunter Jodie McKay in Newcastle on Monday 24 May 2010 to start planning a strategy for transporting the thousands of race goers from Sydney and the Central Coast to Scone’s stand alone meeting in May 2011. Follow up meetings have already taken place with very positive vibrations. Coverage of this and other meetings places the name Scone firmly on the International map! Forward and lateral thinking and leadership plus? No pusillanimous cringe here! Also on the agenda for the Scone Race Club is a $1 million upgrade of its facilities to provide a viewing facility for patrons which will also ‘double’ as a community conference, entertainment and reception venue. This is so badly needed in Scone. In a recent article journalist Brian Russell coined the catchy title of ‘Scone as the Saratoga of the Southern Hemisphere’. I like it! Saratoga Springs in upstate New York is the social, sales and racing Mecca for the glitterati in that part of the thoroughbred world – arguably the most desirable and celebrated destination? Well done Noel and cohort crew! Let’s all rally wholeheartedly behind this brilliant achievement – a genuine first!