Hunter region set to celebrate rich racing history

The region’s strong horse racing history will be acknowledged after the Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame was launched on Saturday.

Newcastle and the Hunter has a rich racing history and the first round of Hall of Fame inductees will be named at a gala event on March 15.

The event will be two days before the $11.2 million track development at Broadmeadow is unveiled for the Newcastle Newmarket Race Day.

Newcastle Jockey Club chief executive Matt Benson said the Hall of Fame aimed to recognise the contribution of both horses and humans that have helped shape thoroughbred racing in Newcastle and the Hunter region over the past 115 years.

“This is an exciting initiative for Newcastle and the Hunter as we have so many participants that have significantly impacted both the local and national racing scene and it’s time that they were recognised for their efforts,” Mr Benson said.

Public nominations can be made until the end of the month in the four categories of horses, trainers, jockeys and associates.

Eight inductees will be named on March 15 then every second year two more inductees will be added.

A selection panel of racing experts comprising Gary Harley, Ray Thomas, Greg Radley and Brian Judd and Ray Thomas will choose the inductees.

Mr Harley said the idea for the Hall of Fame came after legendary Hunter jockey Robert Thompson, who has ridden more than 4200 winners, and horses Choisir and Luskin Star were inducted in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in recent years.

All are expected to feature in the inaugural nominations as well as trainers Max Lees and Paul Perry, Melbourne Cup and Golden Slipper winning jockey Wayne Harris and back-to-back Melbourne Cup-winning horse Peter Pan.

Nominations open 9 January and can be completed online

The Newmarket Race Day has been moved this year from midweek to a Friday and Mr Benson said the NJC had several activities planned to celebrate “a total re-birth for this wonderful facility”.