AWARDS NIGHT: Test cricketer Andy Bichel and On the Bit Founder Matty Peters.
AWARDS NIGHT: Test cricketer Andy Bichel and On the Bit Founder Matty Peters.

Awards’ night celebrated all things country racing

AFTER a big day at the Emerald races last Saturday, more than 280 guests packed into the Emerald Town Hall to celebrate some of the best in country racing and recognise those people who work tirelessly to make a success of the popular social outing in the bush.

Hosted by the live-streaming Facebook page ‘On the Bit’ creator Matty Peters and his wife Emerald Jockey Club secretary Kristy Peters, assisted by a generous major sponsorship package from Racing Queensland, the night was deemed a massive success by many who attended.

Capricornia Racing chairman Leon Roberts and Central West chairman Gary Peoples and all the country associations’ board members have pledged to keep building on the success of the night and will continue to lobby to make it a bigger and better fixture on the racing calendar.

On the Bit founder Matt Peters thanked all who were involved getting the night to the stage it was and made special mention of Jade Doolan and Dave, Chris and Judy Weinert from the Gladstone Turf Club, as well as Rob Luck and Andrew Watts from Longreach, for going above and beyond to make this night a very special night for country racing.

The second annual ‘Hall of Fame Horse’ was awarded to Miss Petty who lit up country race tracks.

Miss Petty was raced by Dick Banks of Blackall and Fred and Rita Giltrow of Goondiwindi and trained by country hall of fame trainer Charlie Prow, who was in attendance to accept the award.

Miss Petty created history in 1989 when she set a new Australasian record for 22 consecutive wins on the racetrack. It was a record held until it was broken by Black Caviar in 2012, which in turn was eclipsed by Winx in 2018.

Pam O'Neill and Dakota Graham.
Pam O'Neill and Dakota Graham.

Mount Isa, from the north west region, featured with two awards, with 2019 country cups’ winner Deadly Choices from Mount Isa named the country horse of the year.

Danny Ballard was again crowned the undisputed country jockey of the year for two years running.

The Ballard family made the 2500 kilometre trip from Mount Isa to attend the night.

Former top line jockey Ken Waller was named in the jockey Hall of Fame.

Waller, a long time legend in the saddle throughout country Queensland, also rode Chief de Beers to victory in the group 1 Doomben 10,000 in 1998.

Bevan Johnson, who travels tirelessly supporting country racing, was crowned country champion trainer.

Last season he saddled up 363 runners on country Queensland tracks at more than 50 different venues producing 59.5 winners including several country cups and also winning the battle of the bush final with Hanover Square.

The Central Highlanders featured strongly, receiving two awards, with Matty Peters taking out the country racing personality award.

His hard work and dedication to racing was recognised with him being the driving force behind On the Bit.

Clermont apprentice Emma Bell was announced from a statewide pool of nominees of apprentice jockeys as the Queensland country apprentice of the year. Bell started race riding in 2017 as a mature aged apprentice.

Indentured to her mother Jenny Bell’s stable in Clermont, Emma has ridden close to 100 winners in this short period of time.

The country non-TAB race day of the year and country race of the year went to the Alpha Club.

President Kevin Wiltshire, who received the award, said he was proud for the club to be the second annual award winner.

He said the Alpha Cup race day continued to grow from strength to strength and wass challenging for the biggest country meeting by attendance.

Wiltshire made a special mention of Alpha Jockey Club stalwart secretary Anna Appleton who works tirelessly for the club behind the scenes.

HALL OF FAME: Trainer John Manzelmann and Best Country Racing New Comer Jade Doolan.
HALL OF FAME: Trainer John Manzelmann and Best Country Racing New Comer Jade Doolan.

Wiltshire also thanked his big team of volunteers and sponsors who made it all happen.

The Twin Hills Race Club, led by the Scharf family, was right on the heels of the Alpha meeting and will be vying for the prize in 2021

A decision was made after a three-way tie in country hall of trainers award to induct all three legends of the turf including Nev (knocka) Peoples, Leslie McLellan and John Manzelmann. Jade Doolan took out the best newcomer to country racing to top off a great night for the Manzelmann stable.

Award winners on the night were:

Trainer of the year: Bevan (Billy Johnson).

Club person / Volunteer of the Year: Jack Murray

Non-TAB Race of the Year: Ewan Cup

TAB Meeting of the Year: Roma Cup

Non-TAB Meeting of the Year: Alpha Cup

Media Personality of the Year: Andrew Watts

Personality of the Year: Matt Peters

Newcomer of the Year: Jade Doolan

Apprentice of the Year: Emma Bell

Horse of the Year: Deadly Choices

Jockey of the Year: Dan Ballard

Hall of Fame Personality: Jack Murray

Hall of Fame Jockey: Ken Waller

Hall of Fame Horse: Miss Petty

Hall of Fame Traine : John Manzelmann, Neville Peoples and Leslie McLellan

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