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Legends inducted into Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame


Eight well-deserved identities were inducted into the Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame this week.

Gallopers Ortensia and Samantha Miss, trainers Neville Begg and Clarry Conners, hoops Jim Pike and Albert Shanahan, along with associates John Messara AM and the late Roy Mahony have been honoured for their outstanding achievements in the industry.

Ortensia, trained by Paul Messara, won 13 races from 38 starts, including multiple Group 1 victories in Australia, Dubai and the UK.

Mitchell Avellino presents the award to Ortensia part-owner Alistair Fraser.

Sired by Testa Rossa, the mare enjoyed success in the Thousand Guineas Prelude (2008), QTC Cup (2009), Winterbottom Stakes (2009, 2011), Al Quoz Sprint (2012), King George Stakes (2012) and Nunthorpe Stakes (2012).

The Kris Lees-mentored Samantha Miss, purchased at the 2007 yearling sales, went on to earn $1.76 million in 12 races, winning three Group 1s.

Mitchell Avellino with the successful trainer of Samantha Miss, Kris Lees.

In 1993, she captured all four legs of the Princess Series – the Silver Shadow Stakes, the Furious Stakes, the Tea Rose Stakes and the Flight Stakes.

Begg, a proud Novocastrian, was recognised for his stellar 60+ years involvement in the sport of kings.

The known workaholic, and trainer of 1984 Australian Horse of the Year Emancipation, recorded 139 stakes victories, including 39 Group 1s.

Champion trainer Neville Begg with Sophie Sterling.

Conners, the former Lambton lad, followed in his father’s footsteps, who trained horses part-time at Broadmeadow.

But, he became a champion in his own right, with 37 Group 1 wins, including four Golden Slippers (Tierce, 1991; Burst, 1992; Prowl, 1998; Belle Du Jour, 2000).

Pike, regarded as The Master, is best-known as the Melbourne Cup winning jockey of Phar Lap.

In fact, that partnership alone netted him 27 victories from 30 starts.

Shanahan captured the “Race that Stops a Nation” twice, as well as about 1,000 more triumphs in the early 1900s.

Alison Hush with a proud Hall of Fame inductee John Messara AM.

Messara has been an outstanding supporter of the industry as a thoroughbred breeder and racing administrator.

Mahony spent 35 years on the board of the Newcastle Jockey Club, including a decade as chairman.

Selection committee chairman Brian Judd said the biannual event was a great acknowledgement for those who showcased the importance of Newcastle and the Hunter as an integral part of Australian thoroughbred racing.

“My fellow committeeman, consisting of Greg Radley, Ray Thomas, Gary Harley and Sam North, were unanimous with all of this year’s inductees,” he explained.

“Each of them has contributed greatly to our industry.

“The eligibility clauses for jockey, trainer and associate require the nominee to be born in the region, predominantly residing in the Hunter, or made a significant contribution to racing.

“The horse inductees qualified by competing out of Newcastle Racecourse or any other Hunter racecourse, which is considered a product of Newcastle and/or the region, which has excelled at the highest level.”

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