Where are our racing champions born?
Nothing shines the spotlight on racing like the Melbourne Cup. The Cup is the one day we all stop to watch a race but the success of NSW’s $3.3 billion industry as a whole relies on our regions. It is our regional horses, trainers, jockeys and strappers working behind the scenes that drive the continued success of racing for the remainder of the year.
Our regional meets are where our champions are born, where our horses are trained and our jockeys learn the ropes. Female jockeys are crucial to keeping country racing alive. In NSW, more than one third of our jockeys are women proving that their successes are growing in racing.
It was humbling to watch the first woman in 155 years cross the finish line. Even more so, because Queen of the Cup Michelle Payne did regional Australia proud. Her story and that of her brother Stevie from Ballarat in regional Victoria was nothing short of an Aussie fairy tale.
NSW was well-represented in the Cup, with horses trained by legendary trainers Gai Waterhouse and Chris Waller in the race, supported by hundreds of country people that keep racing running each day.
Sadly though, the next day we mourned for Narrabri’s jockey Timothy Bell, who got his start in Tamworth and whose promising career was cut short far too soon. From the Central West to the North Coast, regional NSW has grieved for Timothy Bell.
It has been a week of wins and losses for country racing. We should all take a moment to reflect on the work of two great champions in Michelle’s great win and our great loss in farewelling Timothy.