THE new managing director of the Gold Coast Magic Millions has announced a bold growth plan for the event that includes moving the entire 2011 racing carnival to on-track facilities for the first time.

Speaking at the official launch of the 2011 BMW Magic Millions, Stephen Silk outlined a vision to grow the racing carnival and yearling sales to a ‘world-class, uniquely Queensland event’.

He says a purpose built Magic Millions trackside promenade to house corporate and VIP guests at January’s carnival will be only ‘a small part’ of a larger seven-year plan.

“This is a very exciting time. The new partnership we have with Events Queensland, the Queensland Government (with Racing Queensland Ltd) and Gold Coast Turf Club allows us to really build this wonderful event over the next seven years,” says Silk.

“In the past because of the way the tripartite agreement has worked it has been difficult to bring all three parties together trackside. But this year, the new tripartite agreement allows us to do something very special trackside here with the Magic Millions promenade.

“We’re able to commit to new facilities at the Gold Coast Turf Club which will see a new level of corporate entertainment and a new level of event delivery that we haven’t been able to do in the past.”

Following his recent move from general manager of Flemington Racecourse to the Gold Coast, Silk has been ‘impressed’ with the support and vision from the Queensland Government.

Racing Queensland chairman Bob Bentley told Gold Coast Business News a ‘significant’ state funding announcement for Turf Club infrastructure should be expected within the ‘next few weeks’. Silk however says funding is only part of what the agreement is all about.

Despite his background in developing the brand strategy for the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Silk insists Magic Millions must focus on further its unique industry position.

“Every carnival has to be unique. We don’t want to copy Flemington – we’re about doing things that are unique to Qld; unique to the Gold Coast and unique to Magic Millions,” says Silk.

“That’s the formula we’re going to stick to, we’re very fortunate that we have a sale, we’ve got a racecourse next door and we’ve got this very unique race day, that’s what makes us unique.

“The (state) funding helps support all the events, but that’s not the contribution to prize money it’s actually contribution for infrastructure so that we can build this event. Now that we’ve got a seven-year agreement, it will ensure that the Magic Millions Race Day will stay here in Queensland.”

Gold Coast Turf Club chairman Andrew Eggleston used the opportunity to applaud the efforts of the Magic Millions management to secure the services of Silk and move the event into the future.

He also thanked Magic Millions co-owners Gerry Harvey and John Singleton for their vigilant push in attaining government support for the event.

“The 2011 Magic millions will be the 25th running of the classic which will be an achievement for any event,” says Eggleston.

“I want to congratulate Magic Millions on the appointment of Dr Stephen Silk; they’ve shown vision to appoint someone with the experience in the racing industry to guide the Magic Millions into the future.

“The vision they’ve shown to move all the functions and events on course to the Gold Coast Turf Club will ensure Magic Millions has a first-class location to host the entertainment and guests for the entire Magic Millions carnival.”

State Tourism Minister and member for Southport Peter Lawlor, highlighted the economic significance of the week-long event.

Last year the Magic Millions yearling auctions sold $77.1 million worth of thoroughbred racehorses. An economic impact study into the 2008 event showed a direct contribution of $24.6 million to the Gold Coast economy and an additional $27.3 million in publicity value.

“Every January since 1986 the Magic Millions has signalled the start of an exciting new year of events in Queensland,” says Lawlor.

“The BMW Magic Millions racing carnival race day and yearling sales showcases Queensland’s thoroughbred racing industry and the Gold Coast to the world.

“In doing so this carnival provides a vital boost to the Gold Coast economy each year, with visitors from interstate and overseas converging here to be a part of this exciting annual event.”

Highlighting the importance of fashion to attracting a new generation of racing enthusiasts, Silk also announced that international Australian model Jessica Hart will be the official ambassador for Magic Millions 2011.

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