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Black Caviar was not honoured at this year’s Victorian owners and breeders’ awards night, but the superstar mare’s record-breaking 2011-12 season was instrumental in determining the winners of the headline awards.

The Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners’ Association awards were:

Metropolitan Owner of the Year: Black Caviar’s owners Gary and Kerrin Wilkie, Neil Werrett, Colin and Jannene Madden, Pamela Hawkes, and David and Jill Taylor—for having the most successful Victorian-owned thoroughbred in Group and Listed races in the 2011-2012 season—Black Caviar, who had six Group 1 wins (in Melbourne and Adelaide and at Ascot in the UK) and three Group 2 wins.

Outstanding Contribution to Ownership: Phil Sly, owner of Mosheen—for sharing his ownership experience with friends and family, introducing Katsumi Yoshida to Victorian racehorse ownership and generosity to racing charities.

Bill Collins Media Excellence: Jason Richardson, of TVN and SEN—for promoting racing, especially ownership of horses.

Leading Country Owner: Tanya Hussey, of Warrnambool—for winning 24 country races with Constant Force (4), Smarty Mac (4), Kirribilli Gold (3), Scaredymac (3), Italian Machine (2), Luckyi’mbarefoot (2), Cat’s Fun, Harry’s On Song, Most Husbands, Nodrems, Quatra Valve, Sutanoc. Lloyd, Nick and Suzanne Williams had 23 country wins, Kevin and Tanith O’Brien 19, Darren McDonald 16 and Alex McGregor 15.

Black Caviar’s sire Bel Esprit, dam Helsinge and breeder Gilgai Farm were honoured at the annual awards night co-hosted by Racing Victoria, Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria and the Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners’ Association at Moonee Valley on August 24.

The Sirecam Champion Victorian Stallion was won for the fifth consecutive year by Bel Esprit, which puts him in the same company as legendary Victorian sires Century and Better Boy.

Bel Esprit, who stands at Eliza Park, had a season to remember, headlined by Black Caviar’s six Group 1 wins as well as again achieving 100-plus winners and his progeny earning more than $6.5 million.

Black Caviar’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes success at Royal Ascot was also the first European triumph for Bel Esprit, who finished the season sixth on the Australian sire table.

The Stable Connect Champion First Season Sire was another Eliza Park resident, Magnus.

Magnus, who stands in partnership with Yallambee Stud, produced five winners in his freshman season, including New Zealand stakes-winner Platinum Kingdom and exciting filly Imprimus, twice stakes placed at Flemington.

TBV president Tim Johnson said he was thrilled with the performance of Victorian-based sires on the Australian stage, making particular mention of Eliza Park’s stellar season.

“Victorian stallions have once again performed admirably in the 2011-12 season, with of course Bel Esprit getting his due recognition as the sire of Black Caviar,” Johnson said.

“I would like to congratulate Eliza Park for taking out both Champion Stallion awards for the second consecutive year and, of course, acknowledge Yallambee Stud, who partner with Eliza in the up-and-coming sire Magnus.”

Rick Jamieson’s Gilgai Farm at Nagambie, home to Champion Victorian Broodmare Helsinge, was Leading Victorian Breeder, courtesy of the racetrack dominance of Black Caviar and the emergence of her half-brother All Too Hard, a colt by Casino Prince.

The siblings combined for 12 stakes-race successes and collected more than $3.7 million in prizemoney to ensure their dam secured top honours for the second season.

The Leading Small Breeder award was Bill Giovas, breeder of the ill-fated Cox Plate winner Pinker Pinker.

Caulfield trainer Mick Price claimed his maiden Super VOBIS trainers’ title at the Victorian Owners and Breeders’ 2011-12 awards night in late August.

In a season in which Price claimed his first Blue Diamond Stakes with glamour juvenile Samaready (not Super VOBIS-qualified), he also topped the Super VOBIS earnings table with $308,600.

Price said the financial incentives offered by Super VOBIS, the scheme that rewards the connections of horses bred and raced in Victoria, were enticing to owners who had made large financial commitments to the industry.

“It’s put a lot of life into owning horses and it gets a lot of the owners excited,” Price said. “If there’s no money there’ll be no owners because they can’t do it without the financial returns, so a lot of these bonuses would be reinvested straight back into the sport.”Price, who finished second in the Melbourne trainers’premiership behind Peter Moody, had two big Super VOBIS earners: Roses In The Glen collected $54,000—and was crowned Super VOBIS Horse of the Year— and Sir Fernando $52,300.

The pair won five races between them last season, with each success earning a Super VOBIS bonus of $9000- $30,000 on top of prizemoney. Price said he aimed qualified gallopers, including Roses In The Glen and Sir Fernando, at races that carried an SV bonus, provided the events suited a horse’s preparation.

Richard Andrews, Racing Victoria’s owners and breeders manager, Richard Andrews congratulated Price and said it was heartening to see some first-time winners among the award recipients.

“It is great to see a couple of new names at the top of the Super VOBIS premiership tables,” he said. “In particular, congratulations go to Mick Price and his team for winning their first trainers’ title.

“Mick places his horses to perfection and, in doing so, ensures his owners receive every possible chance to maximise their investment in Super VOBIS-qualified horses.”

Darley’s Sheikh Mohammed was another to claim maiden Super VOBIS honours, winning the leading owner. Darley’s best SV-qualified gallopers were the Peter Snowden-trained Textiles and Babel.

The SV honours were among a host of other awards presented by Racing Victoria, Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria and the Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association at the Victorian Owners and Breeders Awards at Moonee Valley on 24 August.

Stephen Howell - Inside Racing magazine, September 2012
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