COLOURS specially-designed for The Eureka made a successful debut last night.
Prominent owner Rob Watson had the touching silks created to promote a charity during what promises to be the industry’s biggest stage.
Restricted to Australian-bred three and four-year-old’s, The Eureka is the world’s richest harness racing event.
Scheduled to be conducted at Club Menangle on September 2, the field for the $2.1million major will be filled by owners of ‘slots’ which they purchased on a three-year cycle.
Head of the well-known ‘Soho’ brand, Watson selected My Ultimate Ronnie as his slot representative.
An Australian Pacing Gold purchase, My Ultimate Ronnie boasts 16 wins and eight placings from 28 starts.
As for the colours in question, they contain an import message via the name Toby.
Toby Meachen is the son of Watson’s friend, Ian, who succumbed to childhood cancer.
In honour of their son, Ian and his wife, Tania, started a charity – Toby For Childhood Cancer.
“Having a child go through such an ordeal is a difficult time for all involved,” Ian said. “Toby was five when he was first diagnosed and six when he passed away.
“The diagnosis once a child responds positively to treatment is usually very high, but although Toby did respond, he was part of the very low percentage that relapse.
“Six weeks after he got home he relapsed, and knowing very few survive after that, we were aware of the outcome.
“Not many in the world relapse, but those who do, all pass away.
“During the journey, you meet so many families with far less chance and you almost feel guilty your child has such a good chance, which Toby did at the time.
“We started the charity when Toby was in remission, but when he relapsed, it got put on hold.”
Toby FCC is all voluntary, meaning every cent is donated to such a heartbreaking cause.
The funds are distributed at 80 per cent to research and 20 per cent to support kids managing cancer.
“It’s pretty rare for kids to have it like Toby did and is just a terrible ordeal for everyone,” Watson said. “I spoke to Ian and he was happy for me to place Toby and his charity on my colours for The Eureka.
“I have devoted the colours to be carried by my slot runner for the next three years.”
Watson’s generous act goes further, with 10 per cent of all The Eureka earnings during the three-year term being donated to Toby FCC.
“Whether it’s a win, placings or running last, I am donating 10 per cent of my stake to charity,” Watson said. “Regardless of the outcome, I have guaranteed $10,000 a year for next three years will go in support of Toby’s cause.”
Praising Watson for his generosity, Ian highlighted the importance of having supporters who can use their platform to promote any charitable cause.
“Guys like Rob and coporate partners are a big part of charities and are really important in spreading the message,” Ian said.
“We have raised more than $300,000 since December, which is an ok start and we are very grateful, but our goal is to reach $1million this financial year and $5million within three years.
“Our focus is on the opportunity we have to make a difference.”
For the record, the ‘Soho Toby’ colours were worn by leading horseman Rickie Alchin when he scored with Soho Spectre in Penrith.
A promising son of Art Major, Soho Spectre blitzed his rivals by 10 metres in 1:57.5 over 2125 metres.
Bred by Watson, the two-year-old took his record to an impressive five wins and a second from eight starts for earnings of $73,682.
DONATIONS to Toby For Childhood Cancer can be made by clicking here