Hunter Valley honours its top echelon

Hunter Valley honours its top echelon

Horses
Holbrook Thoroughbreds' operator Julie Harris at last month's Scone Yearling Sale. She was honoured with the Murray Bain Services Award from the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA). Photo Virginia Harvey

Holbrook Thoroughbreds' operator Julie Harris at last month's Scone Yearling Sale. She was honoured with the Murray Bain Services Award from the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA). Photo Virginia Harvey

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Julie Harris receives the prestigious Murray Bain Services Award at the annual Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA) Awards.

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Daughter of respected thoroughbred breeders Madge and Alan Harris, Julie Harris received the prestigious Murray Bain Services Award at the annual Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA) Awards held at a gala evening in Scone last month.

Named after a dedicated veterinarian of the Upper Hunter Valley, the Murray Bain Award honours a person who champions exceptional service to the industry.

Growing up on the family's Holbrook Stud in the Widden Valley, the family moved to "Glenhaven" on Gundy Road, Scone in 1998, where they continued their thoroughbred business - since known as Holbrook Thoroughbreds, with Julie at the helm.

Known for her knowledge and dedication throughout the industry, Julie was also acknowledged for difficult mares, and supporting them to deliver healthy horses.

"I received an email of congratulations from Bill Howie who was an organiser of the award and that was very much a thrill; to get an acknowledgement from him, is something special," Julie said.

"When I got home after the night, I spent a little while reading the trophy, and seeing the names of the past winners, that made me feel so honoured to know my name is alongside those people."

Long-time Kitchwin Hills employee, Bo Ritson, with her HTBA trophy award for Employee of the Year - Administration. Photo Virginia Harvey

Long-time Kitchwin Hills employee, Bo Ritson, with her HTBA trophy award for Employee of the Year - Administration. Photo Virginia Harvey

Bo Ritson of Kitchwin Hills, Gundy, received the HTBA Employee Of The Year - administration, while Arrowfield Stud's Nigel Bentley the Employee Of The Year - horsemanship.

Being an employee at Kitchwin Hills for 15 years next month, Bo was honoured with her award.

"I love the work and I love the industry; it is so varied," she said.

"I can walk in the door (at Kitchwin Hills' office) in the morning and I have no idea what I am going to be doing some days, then walk out and things that I had planned to do still have not been done.

"The people are great - Mick and Pauline (Malone), the Brown family, they are absolutely lovely to work for."

Not only has Bo proven she is invaluable on the farm, she is also prominent at the sales with her smooth running of the Kitchwin Hills' marquee, ensuring everyone's needs are met and their experience is a fulfilling one.

Nigel Bentley at Arrowfield Stud; he was awarded with the HTBA Employee of the Year - Horsemanship. Photo: Supplied

Nigel Bentley at Arrowfield Stud; he was awarded with the HTBA Employee of the Year - Horsemanship. Photo: Supplied

A member of the senior team at Arrowfield Stud for 12 years, Nigel is recognised and valued by his peers and colleagues as "a wonderful horseman and totally committed to every horse in his care".

Such qualities have seen Nigel progress through a series of diverse roles, from a schoolboy trackwork rider and horse educator, to his current position as assistant operations manager.

After leaving school, Nigel began educating young stock at Widden Stud where he stayed for seven years, before taking a short-term opportunity to educate horses for major owner, Domeland, in China.

The Yass born horseman is now responsible for the smooth running of the Arrowfield business, its 2500 acres including 11 stallions and more than 300 broodmares and their foals, and in 2019 yearlings, which sold for a total of almost $34 million.

For the fourth consecutive year, Vegas Showgirl - dam of champion Winx, was awarded the 2019 HTBA Champion Broodmare Award, while Arrowfield stud's Snitzel its Champion HTBA sire. Snitzel was also champion sire in 2017 and 2018 with record Australian earnings of $16.2m. He joined Danehill and Redoute's Choice to complete the nation's only three-generation sequence of champion sires.

Coolmore Stud's Rubick was HTBA champion first season sire, while champion juvenile filly was Kiamichi, and juvenile colt was Microphone. The three-year-old honours went to filly Sunlight, and colt, The Autumn Sun.

Winter country racing continues at its best

Locally prepared Only Choice (trained by Campbell Roberts) won the Talmoi Picnic Cup at Garah on Saturday, now the picnic calendar moves west to the Duck Creek picnics on July 6.

On the same day about six hours drive north on the border, Mungindi will host its once-a-year races. Then it is the Wean picnics (east of Boggabri on the way to Manilla) on July 13.

The Clarence River Jockey Club's July Carnival kicks off with the Westlawn Finance Prelude Day on June 30, and culminates in the Listed $160,000 Grafton Cup on July 11.

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