REWARDED: The On the Bit Country Racing Gala Awards night recognised the best in the business.
REWARDED: The On the Bit Country Racing Gala Awards night recognised the best in the business. Aden Stokes

'On the Bit' awards night recognises best in racing

HORSES: More than 200 guests packed into the Emerald Town Hall to celebrate some the best in country racing and recognise those people who work tirelessly to make the popular social outing in the bush and throughout the Central Highlands a success.

Hosted by 'On the Bit' creator Matt Peters and wife Emerald Jockey Club secretary Kristy Peters, and 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 both pledged to build on the success of the night and lobby to make it a bigger and better fixture in the racing calendar.

Mr Peters thanked all who were involved and made special mention to Melanie Johnson and the Weinerts from the Gladstone Turf Club and Rob Luck and Andrew Watts from Longreach for going above and beyond to make the night very special for country racing.

The inaugural Hall of Fame Horse was awarded to Picnic in the Park who lit up country race tracks with 21 successive wins in the mid 1980's. 2017 Emerald Cup winner Fab's Cowboy was the Country Horse of the Year.

Mt Isa jockey Keith Ballard was named inaugural Hall of Fame Jockey and Keith's son Danny Ballard was crowned the undisputed Country Jockey of the Year.

The Ballard family made the 2,500 kilometre round trip from Mount Isa to attend the night.

Blackall's living legend Charlie Prow was inducted as the inaugural Hall of Fame Trainer. Bevan Johnson, who travels tirelessly supporting country racing, was crowned Country Champion Trainer, for last season saddling up 409 runners on country Queensland tracks at 50 different venues, producing 59 winners.

Emerald Jockey Club featured strongly, receiving two awards for Country Non-TAB Race Day of the Year along with Country Race of the Year for the Emerald 100.

Club vice-president Mary Bulger received the award and said she was proud of the club to be the inaugural winner of two prestigious awards.

She said the Emerald 100 continued to grow and made a special mention of Emerald Jockey Club stalwarts Steve and Donna Erickson who work tirelessly for the club behind the scenes.

Award winners on the night were:

Hall Of Fame Jockey: Keith Ballard

Hall Of Fame Horse: Picnic In The Park

Racing Participant: Stan Johnston

Country TAB Race Day Of The Year: Birdsville

Country Non-TAB Race Day Of The Year: Emerald 100 Race Day

Country Race Of The Year: Emerald 100

Country Racing Newcomer Award: Alisha Ross 

Country Racing Club Person Of The Year Award: Greg Lee

Country Racing Personality Award: Rob Luck

Outstanding Country Horse Of The Year: Fab's Cowboy

Outstanding Country Trainer Of The Year: Bevan Johnson

Outstanding Country Jockey Of The Year: Dan Ballard

The venue for next year's awards night is yet to be decided but will be one not to be missed for those in the racing industry.

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