VET turned racing executive Stephen Silk (pictured) has hit his straps as managing director of the Magic Millions racing carnival. After his first successful carnival that resulted in $72 million in sales, the former Victorian Racing Club (VRC) executive now has a vision for expansion as a new racing landscape emerges.

It’s your first full year as Magic Millions boss, what stamp do you hope to put on the event in 2012?

Build on the core strengths of Magic Millions in the January Gold Coast Yearling Sale and BMW magic Millions Race Day as a major event for the Gold Coast and Queensland.

You’ve indicated expansions plans are in the pipeline. What processes are required before these can get underway?

We first need to complete a thorough and exhaustive debrief of this year’s event with all stakeholders. We need to know what worked well and what didn’t work so well. We then need to look at short-term and long-term goals and objectives for the sale, race day and our brand.

We then need to build on where we are with a new event plan involving all stake holders including Events Queensland, Gold Coast Turf Club and Racing Queensland, our major sponsors, our major vendors and major buyers. The plan needs to be worked up by the operational team at Magic Millions and then ratified by the Magic Millions board.

What changes have you seen in the industry and where do you envisage it will be in five years?

The thoroughbred industry has seen significant changes in recent years. This includes the decline in pari-mutuel wagering and growth in corporate bookmakers which has impacted on the funding model of racing.

We have seen the growth of multinational studs and the successful influx of wonderful new international bloodlines through shuttle stallions. We have seen the growth of ‘event racing’ or ‘carnival racing’ as racing competes in the entertainment space against other forms of entertainment. We have seen changes to the product mix with a decline in early two-year-old racing. These changes will continue to evolve and in five to 10 years racing must continue to attract new customers as we move more into the entertainment field.

We have to simplify our total product offering and diversify our funding base.

What’s the business mantra that you live by?

The business mantra I live by in racing is inclusiveness. In racing we have so many stakeholders and you need a commitment to all stakeholders, including them in the decision making process.  I have always prided myself in being open and frank and having a commitment to quality standards. I also respect the importance of our brand and looking after the values of the brand.

How many staff do you manage at Magic Millions and what approach do you take to the interpersonal aspect of management?

There is approximately 40 staff at Magic Millions. I have a very open inclusive style of management. To me knowledge is not power but sharing of knowledge is powerful.

I believe in achieving through people. Staff need to be given the opportunity to learn and grow in their jobs. This includes making mistakes, learning from this and going forward as a person.

What is your relationship like with Bob Bentley and how will Racing Queensland play a role in the future of Magic Millions?

I very much respect Bob Bentley and Racing Queensland. All racing jurisdictions in Australia are facing difficult challenges. Racing Queensland has been at the forefront of some pioneering changes with the merger of the race clubs in Brisbane and the recent announcement of the Industry Infrastructure Plan.

Racing is a very conservative industry and to survive with strength into the future we need to be progressive. At Magic Millions we will work with Racing Queensland and the Gold Coast Turf Club to shape our destiny.

As the principal body, Racing Queensland must set the direction for racing in Queensland, we respect this and we will work with them to help them achieve their goals.

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