ROGILLA and Luskin Star beat Choisir to the line to join jockeys Robert Thompson and Wayne Harris, trainers Paul Perry and Max Lees and associates Alf Ellison and Billy Hill in the inaugural Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame on Wednesday night.
The eight figures were inducted at a gala dinner at the newly-named Newcastle Racecourse in front of more than 150 people. Two inductees from associate, trainer, jockey and racehorse categories were selected from 59 nominees and Hall of Fame chairman Brian Judd was thrilled with the event.
“The awards have been launched to recognise the extraordinary contribution of these associates, trainers, jockeys and racehorses to the Newcastle and Hunter region or the wider Australian thoroughbred industry,” Judd said. “Our eight inductees are all true champions and will have a permanent plaque dedicated to them in the soon to be designed Hall of Fame Garden at Newcastle Racecourse.”
The concept was the brainchild of Newcastle Herald’s Gary Harley, who was with Judd, Greg Radley and Ray Thomas on the selection panel which gave Rogilla and 1977 two-year-old triple crown winner Luskin Star the nod over Perry’s Australian Racing Hall of Fame member Choisir. Rogilla, trained in Newcastle by Les Haigh, had 26 wins, including the 1932 Caulfield Cup and 1933 Cox Plate and Sydney Cup. Luskin Star and Thompson are also in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.
Perry, Harris and Thompson were at the dinner for their induction, while daughter Danielle accepted on behalf of her late father, Max. Jockey John Wade, who rode Luskin Star to a host of his wins, accepted the award on behalf of connections.
Broadmeadow’s Lees and Perry were clear choices for the training spots after 20 and 11 group 1 wins respectively.
Perry also rose to international fame with his pioneering UK victories with Choisir at Ascot in 2003.
Cessnock’s Thompson and Muswellbrook’s Harris were also popular picks.
Thompson, who will chase an eighth group 1 win on Saturday on Rod Northam’s Big Money in the Galaxy, has an Australian record 4265 race victories. Harris had 31 group 1 victories, was the first apprentice to win the Golden Slipper and is most famous for his Melbourne Cup triumph on Jeune in 1994.
The first inductees were Ellison, who imported legendary sire Star Kingdom in 1951 to his Baramul Stud at Widden Valley, and Hill, who called every Newcastle Cup from 1937 to 1980.