Champion mare Verry Elleegant (NZ) on Monday night was crowned Australian Racehorse of the Year following an outstanding season that encapsulated five Group 1 victories.
The winner of more than $9.3 million in prizemoney, Verry Elleegant’s racing season was highlighted by her wins in the Winx Stakes, the Caulfield Cup, Turnbull Stakes, Chipping Norton Stakes and Ranvet Stakes. Verry Elleegant’s connections also received awards for the Champion Middle Distance horse and the Champion Stayer of 2021.
With COVID restrictions remaining in place, this year’s virtual ceremony was broadcast live via Sky Thoroughbred Central.
The awards acknowledge performances on Australian racecourses, as well as international performances by Australian-trained horses for the period 1 August 2020 to 31 July 2021.
Each category finalist was eligible for the Australian Racehorse of the Year title, one of two major awards on the night, the other being Racing NSW’s prestigious Bart Cummings Medal, won by premier trainer Chris Waller for the 11th successive year.
In the national awards, brilliant colt Stay Inside was crowned Champion Two-Year-Old while Golden Rose and Caulfield Guineas winner, Ole Kirk was declared Champion Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding.
Chris Waller’s Hungry Heart, winner of the Phar Lap Stakes, Vinery Stakes and Australian Oaks is Champion Three-Year-Old filly.
Speedster Nature Strip, winner of the Black Caviar Lightning then the TJ Smith Stakes during The Championships at Royal Randwick, beat a fantastic line-up for Champion Sprinter including The Everest winner Classique Legend, Bivouac and Eduardo.
The courage and stamina of tough-as-teak winner of the Grand Annual Steeplechase - Gold Medals - was acknowledged by taking out the Champion Jumper award.
Chris Waller, with 341 winners last season and prizemoney topping $43.5m, clinched the Champion Group 1 Trainer award.
James McDonald took out the Champion Group 1 Jockey title after booting home eight Group 1 winners, while Written Tycoon is Australia’s Champion Stallion.
Racing NSW’s Awards for Excellence featured premier trainer Chris Waller’s Bart Cummings Medal and TJ Smith award wins.
James McDonald, with 131 Sydney Metropolitan winners for the year, scored the George Moore award, while Tom Sherry won the Theo Green award for leading Sydney apprentice.
The Sydney Strapper of the Year award went to Clare Heuston, an employee of Chris Waller Racing for 12 years. As well as her hands on strapping role, Clare has the thankless job of cleaning, ironing and sorting of colours for the NSW stable’s 1000-plus runners.
BOBS Horse of the Year is Oscar Zulu who netted $90,000 in BOBS bonuses for his connections with three successive victories at Rosehill Gardens.
Finally, the Caryl Williamson Racing Writers’ Media Personality of the Year award went to top jockey Tommy Berry who enjoyed a career-best season with 111 Sydney winners. The media acknowledged Tommy as a wonderful ambassador for racing, obliging to the media and for his promotion of the sport.
2020/21 AUSTRALIAN RACEHORSE OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS
CHAMPION 2YO STAY INSIDE
CHAMPION 3YO FILLY HUNGRY HEART CHAMPION
3YO COLT OR GELDING OLE KIRK CHAMPION
MIDDLE DISTANCE VERRY ELLEEGANT (NZ)
CHAMPION STAYER VERRY ELLEEGANT (NZ)
CHAMPION JUMPER GOLD MEDALS (NZ)
CHAMPION SPRINTER NATURE STRIP CHAMPION
GROUP 1 TRAINER CHRIS WALLER
CHAMPION SIRE WRITTEN TYCOON
CHAMPION GROUP 1 JOCKEY JAMES McDONALD
AUSTRALIAN RACEHORSE OF THE YEAR VERRY ELLEEGANT (NZ)
RACING NSW AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE WINNERS
BART CUMMINGS MEDAL CHRIS WALLER
TJ SMITH AWARD CHRIS WALLER
GEORGE MOORE AWARD JAMES McDONALD
THEO GREEN AWARD TOM SHERRY
SYDNEY STRAPPER OF THE YEAR CLARE HEUSTON
BOBS HORSE OF THE YEAR OSCAR ZULU
CARYL WILLIAMSON MEDIA PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR TOMMY BERRY
Verry Elleegant (NZ) and James McDonald, picture Sportpix.com.au