While spelling and breeding thoroughbreds for owners has been in place at Craiglea since it opened the front gates, racing is the newest arm of the business. When Stan and Marilyn realised that the yearlings they had started to breed themselves may not have the commercial appeal in the sales ring, they decided it was time for Craiglea to saddle up at the track. Since then the Craiglea name and its’ flashy blue and white crossed racing silks have become instantly recognisable at racetracks right around Queensland.
In 2005, the Johnston’s decided to get even more serious and set up their own training venture based at the Gympie Turf Club. By 2008, that interest has become a passion with Craiglea leasing 40 on-track stables and employing its own race team comprising 2 trainers, Peter Fleming and Natalie Hole, along with 3 full-time support staff and 1 part-timer.
For Stan and Marilyn, the challenge is a break even bottom line meaning in 2008-09 season they’ll need Craiglea gallopers to collect $300,000 in prizemoney. But looking longer term, as their bloodlines and breeding programs gain strength, the Johnston’s are confident their racing venture can become a profitable one as well as a whole lot of fun.
Craiglea Racing also provides Pre-Training and Training for a small number of horses out of its Gympie stables for clients with up to a dozen gallopers currently in work. However, any winnings from clients’ horses are not included in Craiglea’s break even target.
Craiglea’s state of the art horse floats are also instantly recognisable – bearing the record breaking feats of its 2 greatest stars in Falvelon and Calaway Gal. Stan clocks up many thousands of kilometres each year transporting his team of horses to race meetings around the state. Where possible, Craiglea also offers to transport its clients’ gallopers in luxury with the only charge being enough to cover Stan’s diesel expenses.
Supporting Queensland Racing
When it comes to supporting racing throughout Queensland, Craiglea Stud is almost without peer. The Johnston’s have helped deliver many initiatives to lift the profile and keep the very existence of country racing alive. Besides sponsorships, the media is one area in particular where Craiglea has dug deep into its pockets to help boost racing throughout the state.
The shining beacon of that media exposure is 4TAB’s highly regarded weekly radio show ‘Bush Beat’ which was launched in February 2006. Broadcast every Tuesday at 10-30am with hosts Rob Luck and Tony Clements, ‘Bush Beat’ keeps punters and racing enthusiasts up to date with the very latest racing details from Cape York to Stanthorpe, as well as the relevant breeding statistics and other topical issues.
Presenter Rob Luck says, “Bush Beat has been a tremendous opportunity to promote country racing throughout Queensland and all credit has to go to the sponsors Craiglea Stud because the show was their initiative and they continue to support it.
“Country racing is a traditional backbone to the sport because a lot of owners come from the country, as well as some great horses, jockeys and trainers and it’s just a wonderful promotional avenue for the faces of country racing.
“We have some tremendous feats being achieved throughout the state whether it’s by trainers, jockeys or certain horses and we follow all those stories. Craiglea’s providing a wonderful vehicle to promote everything positive about Queensland Racing,” says Rob.
Among Craiglea’s latest initiatives is a campaign to get athletes from other fields involved in the Sport of Kings. As a former star cricketer and sponsor of his local representative team, the Sunshine Coast Scorchers, Stan has handed the 24 members of this year’s squad ownership (nil share) in 4 Craiglea two year olds to hit the track. Of those Craiglea Scorcher is the best early performer with a 1st and a 2nd from his first two career starts. The campaign is introducing new interest to the excitement of owning and racing horses as well as generating wider media coverage and public interest for the sport.