By Mark Brassel
Legendary country trainer Peter Clancy – who celebrated his 80th birthday three weeks ago – was honoured with the Simon Nivison Special Achievement Award at Friday night’s 2017 NSW Country and Provincial Racing Awards Dinner.
Based in Leeton, Clancy has long been a top trainer in his own right around the Riverina area but has also moulded some outstanding riding talent during their apprenticeships, including Tim and Brad Clark, John Kissick and only recently Nick Heywood.
The Brett Cavanough-trained The Monstar was named Country Horse of the Year Award, having enjoyed an excellent winter by capturing the Listed June Stakes at Royal Randwick, and finishing placings in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (Randwick), Listed Ramornie Handicap (Grafton) and Civic Stakes (Rosehill).
Rachael Murray, 27, entered the record books in June when she became the first woman in NSW to ride more than 100 winners in a season and the popular hoop was crowned Country Jockey of the Year.
By the completion of the 2016/17 racing season she had finished with a total of 118 wins.
Wagga conditioner Trevor Sutherland is Country Trainer of the Year, landing a total of 41.5 winners during the season. Sutherland made headlines earlier in the year when landed the entire program by leading in all six winners at a Carrathool race meeting.
The last person to prepare the program on a NSW course was 23 years ago when Frank Cleary won all six races at Forbes in August 1994. Sutherland's feat was remarkable given that he only had seven runners on the day.
Picnics jockey Ricky Blewitt was named Country Approved Rider of the Year for a stellar season booting home 22.5 winners. Among his highlights were victories in the Wean Picnic Trophy Cup and the Funny Hill Picnic Cup (at Crookwell).
The Special Recognition Award was given to Reg Paine who has dedicated 62 years of service to country racing commencing as a rider in 1954. Reg rode until 1987 and finished with 1,038 winners including 2 Cowra Cups, 5 Newmarket, 3 Diggers Cups and an Invitational Stakes winner.
Since retiring from riding some 30 years ago, Reg has held a position on the Committee of the Cowra Jockey Club and also acts as the Clerk of Scales. Reg was awarded life membership of Cowra Jockey Club in 2005 and has been inducted into the Cowra Sporting Hall of Fame.
He shares his lifetime of knowledge with young apprentices often guiding them to their first win in the CRDA / WRA area and is the grandfather of Adam Hyeronimus. Other Country awards were:
• Country TAB Race Club of the Year - MORUYA JOCKEY CLUB • Community Race Club of the Year - DEEPWATER JOCKEY CLUB • Outstanding Achievement Award - CROOKWELL & DISTRICT AMATEUR PICNIC RACE CLUB • Country Apprentice Jockey of the Year - JEAN VAN OVERMEIRE
In the Provincial awards section, Newcastle trainer Paul Perry was honoured with the Ted McCabe Provincial Recognition Award. Perry was first to blaze a trail to Royal Ascot (UK) 14 years back, when Choisir was the first horse to claim the King’s Stand-Golden Jubilee double.
It was also the first Aussie-trained horse to win a race in England. Perry has trained 11 Group One winners including Stratum (Golden Slipper), Navy Seal (Epsom), and Dantelah & Fastnet Rock (Oakleigh Plate). Other Provincial awards were:
• Provincial Horse of the Year - LE ROMAIN • Provincial Trainer of the Year - KRIS LEES • Provincial Jockey of the Year - JEFF PENZA • Provincial Apprentice Jockey of the Year - RACHEL KING