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North Queensland clubs to honour late racing administrator

IMG-5288.JPGBy Jordan Gerrans

Jane Koch believes adding her late husband Rob’s name to the annual Magic Millions FNQ Up and Coming Stayers Series is a fitting tribute for his contribution to racing in the north of the state.

Koch, a popular north Queensland racing ­administrator and horse owner, passed away in March 2020 after years involved in several different roles within the racing industry.

As an owner, Koch won big Cup races in north Queensland as well as bringing his best horses to Brisbane, where he also had success.

He also devoted his time to the Far North Country Racing Association, where he was the secretary, with plans to eventually become president before his sad passing.

But, Koch’s greatest legacy in the north will be the Magic Millions FNQ Up and Coming Stayers Series, which he started, in conjunction with local clubs in 2014.

The series is now known as the Magic Millions Rob Koch Memorial Far North Queensland Up and Coming Stayers Series and will run the first event of the 2021 edition this weekend at Mareeba.

Rob’s wife Jane, who is still involved in the industry, will be at Mareeba this Saturday for the inaugural running.

“It is wonderful recognition; Rob was unique in the racing industry as an owner, he was he secretary of the FNQ Racing Association - Rob loved the whole gamut of the industry,” Jane said.

“He was really interested in the administration, to the programming and being an owner, he contributed to racing in many different areas.”

The Up and Coming Stayers Series is an eight-race event that provides horses with lower ratings an opportunity to race over staying trips and look to eventually qualify for NQ Cup races later in the year.

Koch was mentored by Far North Country Racing Association president Don Scheffler, who he was also close friends with, as the plan was for Koch to eventually take on the main role in the years to come before his death.

Scheffler has remained as president following Koch’s passing.

Up-and-Coming-Stayers-Series.JPGOne of Koch’s greatest strengths in the racing game was his ability to syndicate horses to people who previously were not involved in the industry.

Jane estimates there were 50 different owners that Rob had engaged at one time in previous years, stretching across Australia and into New Zealand.

“He introduced so many people to racing, I still know all these people and they still wrap their arms around me under the circumstances,” Jane said.

“There were people who would have never thought about getting involved in racing did so because Rob syndicated them into horses.

“They still talk about winning the big races like the Cairns Cup and other people in our syndicates have gone on to other ones and won big races around the country.

“Rob did not care if these people were in our syndicates or not, he was just proud that he was able to introduce them to racing.”

As were their annual trips to the Gold Coast for the Magic Millions sale, Jane was on hand earlier this month in the sales ring alongside close friends of Rob’s including Scheffler, Tom Hedley, Roy Chillemi and Fred Wieland, among others.

The Kochs would often organise the flights, accommodation, and everything else for many of the veteran NQ trainers on the Gold Coast come sales time so they were able to increase the population of horses in the area.

Jane did not purchase any of the yearlings on offer this year, but said she was very tempted.

Despite Rob’s passing, Jane is still racing a few horses and is hopeful a new two-year-old that they bred from one of their better horses over the years, Nevetus, will be one to watch over the next year.