UPDATED: Moree Race Club among the winners at Racing NSW Country and Provincial Awards for Excellence
MOREE Race Club was gonged with an outstanding achievement award at the prestigious Racing NSW Country and Provincial Awards for Excellence in Sydney on Friday evening.
The awards ceremony – country and provincial racing’s night of nights – is held at the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney and draws huge nominations from across New South Wales in 17 categories.
Gulgong maestro Brett Thompson, who led back 2016 Moree Cup winner Dark Mojo, was awarded Country Trainer of the Year while Greg Bennett’s star performer Clearly Innocent, a winner of seven races from just 10 starts including the $502,000 Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick in April, was named Country Horse of the Year.
Champion jockey Greg Ryan was again afforded Country Jockey of the Year while ace apprentice Samantha Clenton, who only resumed riding in early September after being sidelined with injury for three months, collected the Country Apprentice Jockey of the Year.
Former Northern Daily Leader sports editor Geoff Newling was recognised with a Special Recognition Award for his work in the racing industry over the past 35 years.
Moree Race Club was nominated for the Outstanding Achievement Award by Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service events co-ordinator Jeff Galbraith for the Moree Chopper Cup race meeting, held annually in late February.
The meeting, still in its infancy, raises much-needed funds for the rescue helicopter service.
Moree was up against Forbes Jockey Club (Forbes Cup meeting), Taree-Wingham Race Club (Country Championships Qualifier) and Tweed River Jockey Club (The Summer Series).
Club president Rob Mather, who travelled to Sydney with his wife Maryanne and well-knowm Moree racing identities Terry and Bethelle Picone, Paul and Gemille Hayes and Campbell Roberts, said the win was a huge bonus for the Moree racing industry.
“On behalf of the club, I want to thank Jeff Galbraith from the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service for nominating the club – it’s thanks to Jeff that we’re down here celebrating,” Mather said.
The Chopper Cup, heading into its third running next year, has raised more than $50,000 from just two hugely successful editions.
“The club really has to thank the entire community because without the people turning up on race-day, this sort of money can’t be made every year,” Mather said.
“And without sponsors like Pacific National and the Ports of Newcastle, meetings like the Chopper Cup can’t be the success they are.
“Winning this award is a big thing for the Moree community,” he said.
Mather paid special tribute to long-serving club secretary Michelle Gobbert, who has helped shape and reinvent the Moree Race Club in recent years.
“Sadly, Michelle couldn’t make it tonight,” Mather said.
“It just doesn’t seem right that Michelle has done all the work to make the Chopper Cup the success that it is, but can’t be here to collect the award for the club.
“Michelle has done a great job. Without her, we wouldn’t be here tonight,” he said.
Country recipients of the awards for 2016
Simon Nivison Special Achievement Award: Ian Giffin (Wellington)
Country Horse of the Year Award: Clearly Innocent
Country TAB Race Club of the Year: Murrumbidgee Turf Club
Community Race Club of the Year: Walcha Jockey Club
Outstanding Achievement Award: Moree Race Club (The Chopper Cup)
Country Trainer of the Year: Brett Thompson
Media Award: John Scorse (Sky)
Country Jockey of the Year: Greg Ryan
Country Apprentice Jockey of the Year: Samantha Clenton
Special Recognition Awards: Barbara Joseph (trainer) and Geoff Newling (media).
Provincial recipients of the awards for 2016
Ted McCabe Provincial Recognition Award: Peter Norrgard
Provincial Horse of the Year: Lucia Valentina
Provincial Trainer of the Year: Kris Lees
Provincial Jockey of the Year: Brenton Avdulla
Provincial Apprentice Jockey of the Year: Andrew Adkins
Words: Copyright Bill Poulos 2016