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Racing industry rallies behind bushfire appeal

By Andrew Adermann

All eyes will be on Queensland this Saturday with the $10 million The Star Gold Coast Magic Millions Raceday, and while the day will no doubt be a highlight of the summer carnival, there is a far more important fight across the country as bushfires ravage the eastern seaboard.

As firefighters continue to battle the blazes, the racing and breeding industries are banding together to raise vital funds for victims as well as support for the volunteers fighting the devastating fires.

A number of initiatives and donations have already been announced as the industry looks to support the crisis any way it can.

Over the weekend, vendors at the Gold Coast Magic Millions Sale pledged their support to victims of the bushfires by donating $500 for every yearling sold.

With more than 1000 horses catalogued in the sale, it is estimated that upwards of $300,000 will be raised from the initiative. 

“I think this is a great effort as many of the vendors have had a very tough time in recent years with drought and many have been dealing with fires themselves,” Thoroughbred Breeders Australia President Basil Nolan said.

“The industry is a real community and everybody I’ve spoken with wanted to do something.

“You cannot look at what’s going on and not be affected by it.”

At Sunday’s Pacific Fair Magic Millions Polo event, a group of Magic Millions ambassadors including Frankie Dettori, Zara and Mike Tindall, Billy Slater and Hamish McLachlan announced they would collectively donate $50,000 to the appeal.

The Star Gold Coast, the Carnival’s naming rights partner, have matched the $50,000 donation.

Australian actor Rebel Wilson, who was also present at the Polo, auctioned two lunches at her Sydney home with proceeds going directly to those in need.

The lunches were sold to Arrowfield stud and trainers Gillian and Hoss Heinrich, raising another $100,000 in the process.

Last week, champion jockey Tommy Berry announced that they would donate $250 to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal for every winner he rode in January.

Fellow hoop Damian Lane followed suit stating he would do the same.

Speaking at the Polo on Sunday, Berry said there’s no better industry in the world that comes together in the midst of a crisis. 

“We’re a very competitive industry, it’s very cut-throat but when people are in need, I think the racing industry is the first one to come to the fore,” Berry said.

“It’s been pretty distressing and heartbreaking to see what everyone has been going through but it’s amazing to see the support that sportsmen here and celebrities around the world have donated.

“What I’m doing is only a small little percentage and it’s not going to bring back anything they’ve lost but hopefully it just makes it a little bit easier for them in the future.”