SINGLETON hoop Aaron Bullock was named Achiever of the Year as Lucia Valentina claimed a third consecutive Horse of the Year title at the Newcastle Jockey Club Racing Awards Night on Wednesday at Merewether Surf House.
The Kris Lees-trained Lucia Valentina was an undisputed winner of the major award after claiming the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on April 9.
The three-time group 1-winning mare beat out stablemates Le Romain, which won the Randwick Guineas, and provincial championship final champion Danish Twist for the honour.
Lees-trained filly Twist Tops was named two-year-old of the year.
All-conquering Sydney trainer Chris Waller was honoured as Newcastle premiership champion and winner of the Max Lees Medal. The medal, who by Kris Lees in 2014-15, is given to the trainer who with the best winning strike rate at Newcastle with at least 40 starters over the season.
Jeff Penza was recognised for his victory in the jockeys’ premiership and for finishing as joint winner of the Bill Wade Medal, which he shared with Chad Lever. The medal goes to the hoop with the best winning strike rate from at least 40 rides at Newcastle. Andrew Adkins was the leading apprentice.
Bullock, who works for Lees, was recognised for his efforts to return from three years away out of the sport, as well as a broken leg and shoulder, to ride 32 winners statewide last season.
Meanwhile, NJC’s new bar, The Ascot, at Broadmeadow Racecourse will be unveiled on Thursday night when it hosts the Spring Racing Carnival Calcutta.
Gary Harley and Malcolm Johnston will MC the function, where punters will be able to bid on horses running in the carnival, to be held on Friday and Saturday on the club’s Beaumont track.
The NJC will kick off the prize pool for the revived concept with an injection of $2000.
NJC chief executive Matt Benson said The Ascot would feature black and white photographs of iconic moments from Australian racing, in particular of Newcastle trainer Paul Perry’s pioneering efforts at Royal Ascot with Choisir and Fastnet Rock. The calcutta starts 5:30pm.