2017 HTBA Awards Night
Breednet - Media Release - Thursday, 11 May 2017
The 2017 thoroughbred champions were announced at the HTBA's 26th Annual Awards Night held at Australia's Horse Capital in Scone. Over 350 industry leaders, clients, sponsors, supplies and VIPs came together to commemorate the Hunter's champion equine athletes.

"The Hunter Valley is Australia's thoroughbred capital. It is the birthplace of 1 in every 2 thoroughbred race horses every year and is renown the world over for breeding champion equine athletes. We are very proud of our people and our thoroughbred champions and tonight we recognise their exceptional achievements " Dr Cameron Collins said.

Every year every category is highly contested and this year proved no exception.

She Will ReignThe 2017 HTBA Champion 2 year-old-filly was awarded to She Will Reign, bred by Mr Gary Bachell. 2017 Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign was sired by Arrowfield's Manhattan Rain, out of Courgette. The 2-year-old filly award was sponsored by Scone Race Club and accepted by breeder Gary Bachell.

The 2017 HTBA Champion 2 year-old colt, sponsored by International Animal Health Products was awarded to multiple Group 1 winner, Invader bred by Mr M A Pitt. Sired by Arrowfield's Snitzel, out of Flame of Sydney, Invader won the 2017 Inglis Sires Stakes. Mr Paul Messara accepted the award on behalf of Mr Pitt.

The 2017 HTBA Champion 3 year-old filly was awarded to Foxplay. Sired by Foxwedge, out of Butters and bred by SF Bloodstock, Foxplaywas the winner of the Group1 2017 Coolmore Legacy Stakes. Sponsored by Pages Event Hire the award was accepted by Mr Henry Field.

The 2017 HTBA Champion 3 year-old coltwas awarded to Group 1 Golden Rose winner Astern. The son of Darley's Megalia D'Oro, out of Essaouira, Astern was bred by Godolphin. The HTBA Champion 3 year-old colt award was sponsored by Morgan and English Commercial Lawyers Solicitors and accepted by Mr Alistair Pulford.

WinxFor the second year in a row the 2017 HTBA Champion Racehorse was awarded to the Hunter's golden girl and Australia's darling of the racecourse, multiple Group 1 winner, Winx. Sired by Darley stallion Street Cry out of Vegas Showgirl, Winx was bred by Fairway Thoroughbreds and raised and grazed at Coolmore stud. With 17 straight wins to her name, Winxhas beaten the mighty Phar Lap's winning streak, was named Australian Racehorse of the year in 2015/16 and the world's best horse on turf at Longines World's Best Racehorse Awards in London in January 2017. The 2017 HTBA Champion Racehorse award was sponsored by Goldners, and accepted on behalf of Fairway Thoroughbreds by Mr Fergal Connelly.

The 2017 HTBA Champion Broodmare was awarded, for the second year running, to Vegas Showgirl owned by Fairway Thoroughbreds and dam of champions Winx and El Divino. The 2017 HTBA Champion Broodmare award was sponsored by the Scone Equine Hospital and accepted by Mr Peter O'Brien on behalf of Fairway Thoroughbreds.

Australian two-year old Triple Crown winner and Australia's highest rated Australian juvenile since 1997, Pierrowas awarded the 2017 HTBA Champion First Season Sire Award. Son of Darley's champion stallion Lonhro, out of Miss Right Note, Pierro's first crop of 2 year-olds already include winners such as Tulip, Pierata and Pierone. The 2017 HTBA Champion first season sire award was sponsored by Kentucky Equine Research & Ridley Barastoc Partnership and accepted by Mr Sebastian Hutch.

The 2017 HTBA Champion Sire was awarded to Arrowfield's champion stallion Snitzel. Son of Arrowfield's champion stallion Redoute's Choice, out of Snippets' Lass, and grandson of the legendary Danehill, multiple Group 1 winner Snitzel has sired 59 Stakes winners and 10 Group 1 winners including Invader, Russian Revolution, Snitzerland, Summer Passage and Heavenly Blue. The 2017 HTBA Champion Sire award was sponsored by William Inglis & Son and accepted by Mr Paul Messara.

2017 HTBA Employee of the YearAwards - Administration & Horsemanship

"Employees are an industry's greatest asset. In the Hunter's Thoroughbred Breeding Industry they're our competitive advantage and critical to our success and our long-term future. The HTBA is committed to attracting, training and retaining the best and providing our employees with an environment that values and recognises talent, loyalty and exceptional endeavour." Dr Cameron Collins, HTBA President said.

The HTBA Employee of the Year (Administration) Award recognises an individual staff member who works in administration in or for the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeding Industry who has demonstrated exceptional skills, loyalty or achievement that has added value to their employer's business and directly or indirectly to the Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeding Industry.

The HTBA Employee of the Year (Horsemanship) Award recognises an individual staff member who has shown talent for horsemanship, consistency and reliability, an affinity with horses and who gives priority to animal welfare. Nominees must demonstrate a degree of success within the Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeding Industry that has been borne out of their particular skill set.

The 2017 HTBA Employee of the Year (Administration) Award winner is Ms Michelle Nichols, Stud Office Manager, Arrowfield. Highly regarded and respected by her colleagues Michelle's long and loyal service, high integrity, impeccable accuracy, diligence and corporate knowledge earned her the reputation of being "the walking encyclopedia" at Arrowfield. For the past two decades, through her exceptional skills, dedication and loyalty, Michelle has demonstrated complete commitment to, and involvement in, the Arrowfield business.

The 2017 HTBA Employee of the Year (Horsemanship) Award winner is Mr Daniel Krzanic(Stallions, Yearlings & Transport) Coolmore Australia. Daniel has been part of the Coolmore team since Coolmore's inception in Australia over 20 years ago. Totally loyal and dedicated, Daniel is considered one of the "unsung heroes" of the Coolmore team. His horsemanship and affinity with horses is exceptional. Daniel's appreciation of caring for elite athletes ensures outstanding performance year in year out. His professionalism, reliability, work ethic, positive attitude, and passion for horsemanship not only epitomizes the many roles he performs, it is an essential part of the presentation of yearlings at all major sales and a shining example to younger staff, many of whom he mentors. Daniel is an outstanding team member of the Coolmore stud farm and is a very deserving winner of this year's award.

"Once again the HTBA received many worthy nominations of employees who have exceptional skills and dedication and are essential to the success of their employer's business and our industry. We congratulate this year's winners who will be nominated as HTBA candidates for similar award categories in future Australian Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards" Dr Cameron Collins, said.

2017 HTBA Presidents Award for Life Time Achievement - Mr Noel Leckie

The President's Life Time Achievement Award is awarded to those in our industry whose contribution has made a lasting legacy to the development and promotion of our industry. Tonight we honour a man who was a devoted horseman, a loyal sportsman, an indefatigable champion of breeding and racing, and a passionate and tireless advocate for, and promoter of, regional breeding and racing – Scone's most dedicated racing son and immediate past Chairman of Scone Race Club, Mr Noel Leckie.

An accountant by trade and an ardent sportsman by nature, Noel Leckie's advice to stud farms across the Hunter, his legacy to breeding and racing and his passion for golf, baseball, cricket and rugby is legendary.

As an accountant, Noel never tired of helping horse trainers, jockeys, stud owners and stud masters establish their businesses, develop realistic budgets and manage their finances. Noel was equally content to advise and complete tax returns for strappers, truck drivers, stud hands and many, many members of the Scone Rugby Club.

Noel Leckie spent 23 years on the Scone race Club Committee and more than 20 of them as either vice-chairman or chairman. During this time he championed breeding and racing and was the driving force that secured the stand alone Saturday racing day, which is now an integral part of the Scone racing carnival. This achievement alone catapulted the Scone racing carnival to a destination meeting, making it the richest non-metropolitan racing carnival in Australia, offering approximately $2 million in prize money and attracting tens of thousands of people to our region every year. As a result of his steadfast promotion of the Scone racing carnival Noel was known as "the unofficial mayor of Scone."

In addition to Noel's passion for breeding and racing, particularly country racing, Noel was a successful breeder and owner of racehorses and a great supporter of the Inglis Scone Yearling sale – both as vendor and buyer. Noel bred Voodoo Lad who won many a country race, the Inglis Challenge at Scone on Cup Day and placed in the Country Championships. Only two weeks before his death, Noel had the joy of being the breeder of Houtzen, an I Am Invincible filly, who took out the $2 million Magic Millions 2 year-old Classic at the Gold Coast.

Noel never tired of championing this region and our industry. He was always campaigning for the promotion and protection of our breeding and racing industry. There was never a task too difficult, never a mountain he would not climb, to secure and grow the future of the Hunter's breeding and racing industry.

Noel was a passionate and devoted family man. He has been described as a "mad sportsman", a "complete gentleman and a fine human being" "very astute" "prominent, passionate, conscientious and professional" "great for racing and a great bloke". He was all of those things and much, much more.

Noel Leckie was a true local hero, an industry legend, a loyal friend and an immeasurable and irreplaceable loss to his family and our industry.

It is with heartfelt sadness and the upmost honour that the 2017 HTBA President's Award for Life Time Achievement is awarded posthumously to Mr Noel Leckie.

2017 HTBA Murray Bain Service to Industry Award recipient - Mr Mike Thew

The Murray Bain Service to Industry Award honours the outstanding achievements of those in our industry who champion exceptional service to industry and hands-on best practice. This year's Murray Bain Service to Industry Award recipient, Mr Mike Thew has exemplified hands-on best practice and shared this passion and commitment with the many people he has worked with, trained and mentored throughout his career.

A highly respected and valued member of the Hunter's thoroughbred breeding industry and a dedicated committee member of the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Mike Thew has applied his hands-on experience and knowledge to his work, teachings and committee memberships throughout his life.

From the start of his career as a stud hand at the famous Lexington Spendthrift stud farm in the late 1970's, to this time as founding manager at the late Brian Agnew's Wakefield Stud and his own very successful broodmare farm at Crowningstone, Mike has driven many firsts in thoroughbred best practice.
Mike was the first stud manager in the Hunter to walk mares for cover. Under his leadership, Wakefield Stud was the first farm to have black fences and the first to slash roadways and laneways – all best practice applications from his days in Lexington Kentucky that are continued to this day.

For nearly two decades as head teacher of Agriculture and Equine Studies at the Scone TAFE Mike applied his life-long passion, knowledge and hands on experience by training and mentoring the next generation of Hunter horsemen and women. During his time with Scone TAFE Mike was instrumental in implementing the equine nursing course, farrier courses, horse management and husbandry, night watch foaling and many more agricultural and certificate courses.

Mike has been a past President of the Scone Horse Festival, President of the Scone Pony Club, Committee Member of the Scone Race Club and is a valued member of the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association Committee.

The HTBA is very pleased to honour Mr Mike Thew for his hands on service to our industry and award him the 2017 HTBA Murray Bain Service to Industry Award.

The HTBA congratulates all 2017 award winners and thanks the sponsors for their support of these awards and the HTBA's activities to promote and protect the Hunter's premier thoroughbred breeding industry. The HTBA also thanks Ms Carolyn Searcy of Sky Racing and Mr Joel Ozborn for co-hosting the HTBA's 26thAnnual Awards. Sky Racing will be telecasting highlights of the Awards night on their Bred to Win program.

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