On the night of 25 August, I had the pleasure of attending the annual industry awards of Thoroughbred Racing South Australia, representing both the member for Stuart and the opposition. This great event recognises the sport’s high achievers as well as inducting some legends into the South Australian Racing Hall of Fame. There were approximately 450 industry people in attendance, a very healthy showing for an industry which has been doing it rather tough of late.
I want to mention a few award winners of the night, both human and equine. One of the most important awards was the 2011-12 South Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year, which was Southern Speed, a five year old mare which won the Caulfield Cup, one of Australia’s most prestigious races. It was also runner-up in three group 1 events, including the Australia Cup. I have had the privilege of being a close friend and business associate of the three owners of Southern Speed: Mr Harry Perks, Mr Trevor Robertson and Mr Rodney Fairclough. It was an absolute thrill for me to be at the event and hear Trevor and Rod give their accounts of their ownership of Southern Speed.
I was quite taken with Rod’s moving speech in which he paid particular tribute to his wife Beverley, who has been a very loyal and supportive wife with regard to his racing. He recounted a story of how he headed off and sold some stamps that he had collected and came back with a racehorse and left her wondering what in the hell he had done. That was the start of it all some many years ago. I know that these three families have invested heavily in the sport. They have had ups and downs and it is fantastic to see them enjoying some terrific success.
I would also pay tribute to the great trainer Leon Macdonald and Clare Lindop, who has done a hell of a lot of riding with that stable. It is a magnificent combination. Leon is one of my favourites. He is a Port Augusta man. As Joy Baluch often tells me, I am from Whyalla which is only Port Augusta west. There is great rivalry between Whyalla and Port Augusta and I have been thrilled to talk to Leon many times and be at the Port Augusta Cup with him and see how he interacts. He is held in high regard by country racing people and he is a fantastic fellow.
The John Letts Medal recognises excellence in riding and outstanding achievements throughout all race meetings in the state, and it was won by Matthew Neilson. Mr Neilson was also crowned South Australian Jockey of the Year, the pre-eminent prize for jockeys in South Australia. I loved it—I had a photo taken with Matthew Neilson. I thank him for that. I am quite friendly with the other Matthew Neilson who captains the Australian basketball team, so I am looking forward to sending big Matty a photo of me and the ‘real’ Matty Neilson, the champion South Australian jockey. Justin Potter was awarded the country racing equivalent. It was great to see country racing being recognised.
Steven Pateman was recognised as the Jumps Jockey of the Year. He was awarded the EJ Mooney Medal. My cheeky speechwriter thought it should be called ‘the Hon. Tammy Franks Medal for Jumps Jockey’ and I thought that was totally out of order! I said that I will not comment on that; it is just wrong.
Apprentice of the Year was Jordan Frew. It is always encouraging to see good young apprentices coming through. It shows our racing industry has the will to carry on despite the hardships. The CS Hayes Award for Trainer of the Year was Tony McEvoy, while the Country Trainer of the Year was Mick Whittle. Both gave terrific speeches. I have to pay tribute to Mick Whittle; he was incredibly entertaining and, as Tony said, a very hard act to follow when it came to making his speech.
Most Consistent Racehorse of the Year went to Outlandish Lad who ran against Black Caviar in her record-breaking run in the Goodwood at Morphettville earlier this year. There were two Hall of Fame inductees—both were horses—Rubiton and Royal Gem. Rubiton had a dream year in 1987 winning a Cox Plate amongst his 10 wins from 16 starts. Royal Gem had 23 wins from 51 starts including wins in the Goodwood and Caulfield Cup.
Most Outstanding Achievement by a Club went to the SAJC for 2012 and, not surprisingly, the year has been so far quite remarkable for racing at Morphettville. I would like to pay tribute to the committee, in particular to Brenton Wilkinson for his outstanding job getting Black Caviar here. I also pay tribute to Craig Cook from The Advertiser for his award for Best Racing Journalist. I also thank Frances Nelson and Jim Watters for their exceptional stewardship.