Long-term industry participants Len Tozer of Gundagai, and Gary Harley of Maitland were each honoured with the prestigious Simon Nivison Special Achievement and Ted McCabe Provincial Recognition Awards, respectively, at a glittering evening in Sydney at the annual Racing NSW Country and Provincial Racing Awards on Friday.
Already a recipient of an OAM medal for his contribution to his local community, Len is now in his 50th year as secretary of the Gundagai-Adelong Race Club. He also has spent 20 years on the local council and is Gundagai's longest serving mayor at 12 years.
"I've got four or five years left in me yet (as Gundagai-Adelong Race Club's secretary)," Mr Tozer said.
There was a standing ovation when Gary Harley was announced the recipient of the Ted McCabe Recognition Award, an award named in honour of the late Ted McCabe a former chairman of the Provincial Racing Association and the Hawkesbury Race Club.
Devoting a lifetime to racing and sports in the Hunter Valley, Gary has provided expert racing commentary and mounting yard previews for various radio networks over the past 45 years.
Gary added television coverage to his media roles, in 1992 joining the Sky Channel team working in the three codes of racing, and today can be seen giving his horse racing knowledge and tips at two to three race meets each week at the provincials - predominantly Newcastle, Wyong and Gosford and sometimes Hawkesbury.
Conducting 25 race meets a year, the Murrumbidgee Turf Club at Wagga Wagga, received the Country TAB Race Club of the Year. Among the club's promotions included partnering with its local council, and the NRL's Canberra Raiders on the weekend of its Wagga Wagga Gold Cup meet, which proved a massive event.
Aided by its 80 strong statewide team of committee members, the Louth Turf Club (LTC) received the Country Race Club of the Year Award. The renowned festive once-a-year August meet in the tiny far-western hamlet of about 35, bursts to a cast of thousands by race day, the LTC breaking records for its 60th cup meet last year with about 6000 revellers trackside.
The Forbes Jockey Club (FJC) was honoured with the Outstanding Achievement Award. Their major highlight was the re-opening of their 110-year-old grandstand (in October 2018) with it's restored and refurbished structure now painted in heritage colours.
The project was possible with support from Racing NSW, Forbes Shire Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage, plus a successful NSW Government grant.
For the 13th time, Dubbo based hoop Greg Ryan took the Country Jockey of the Year.
Not only judged upon riding 167.5 winners last season but for his strike rate, services to owners and trainers as well as to apprentice hoops.
Apprenticed to Donna Scott at Albury, Blaike McDougall took the Apprentice Jockey, while Moruya based Maddison Wright earned herself Approved Rider of the Year.
Now based in Scone, Brett Cavanough took the Country Trainer of the Year for the fifth time, preparing 57 winners last season. The Scone based conditioner will be saddling up Pluck gelding Star Boy in the $1.3 million The Kosciuszko race at Randwick on October 19.
The Provincial Trainer of the Year was Gwenda Markwell who prepared 44 winners, however, her winning triumph was taking this year's ATC Derby-G1 with Animal Kingdom gelding Angel Of Truth.
Well-known and in-form hoop Tommy Berry was the Provincial Jockey of the year, while Robbie Dolan was the Provincial Apprentice of the Year.
Ready to take her place in the $14m The Everest (on The Kosciuszko program), the Kris Lees trained In Her Time was named the Provincial Horse Of The Year.
The Time Thief mare's second successive award win, In Her Time won the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington, defeating Osborne Bulls and Sunlight.
Prepared at Port Macquarie by Jenny Graham, I Am Invincible gelding Victorem was named the Country Horse Of The Year.
Winning two black type races last season, Victorem - as well as stable companion Awesome Pluck - are two others confirmed as starters in the second running of The Kosciuszko. By Pluck, Awesome Pluck finished third in last year's The Kosciuszko.