Maher & Eustace clean up at Victorian Racing Awards

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Ciaron Maher

Some of Australia’s star performers were acknowledged on Sunday night at the 2020-21 Victorian Racing Awards, where Jamie Kah, Will Price and training duo Ciaron Maher & David Eustace came out as the big winners.

Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant was awarded the title of Victorian Racehorse of the Year after back-to-back Group 1 wins in the Turnbull Stakes and Caulfield Cup last spring.

That result gave trainer Chris Waller his fifth consecutive Victorian Racehorse of the Year title, after Nature Strip won in 2020 and star mare Winx was victorious in the three years before that.

Verry Elleegant polled 100 votes to finish 47 points clear of Western Australian mare Arcadia Queen (53), while Danny O’Brien’s Group 1 winner Russian Camelot tied for third with Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment on 15 votes.

Kah’s record-breaking season saw her become the first female jockey to win the Scobie Breasley Medal thanks to her whopping 105 Victorian metropolitan wins.

Voting for the Scobie Breasley Medal uses a 3-2-1 system for best rides of the day at each metropolitan meeting across the state, as adjudged by Racing Victoria stewards.

Claiming 86 votes, Kah finished 37 votes clear of Damien Lane, winning the accolade by the biggest margin in the medal’s 26-year history. Five-time Scobie Breasley medalist Craig Williams finished third, while 11-time winner Damien Oliver came fourth and Jye McNeil rounded out the top five.

Capping off a successful evening for Kah, she also was awarded the Victorian Jockeys Association (VJA) Most Valuable Jockey Award.

Apprentice hoop Will Price made it back-to-back wins in the VJA Rising Star Award after claiming both the Metropolitan Apprentice title and Victorian Apprentice title. The Rising Star Award is decided based on fellow riders’ votes, acknowledging the most talented apprentice jockey.

Jumps rider Steven Pateman found himself back in the winner’s circle after claiming his ninth Tommy Corrigan Medal, his first since 2015. The leading jumps rider polled at nine of the 25 jumps meetings across Victoria and South Australia, winning the award over Tom Ryan and Darryl Horner Jr.

Former jumps jockey and two-time Tommy Corrigan medalist John Allen had plenty of success on the flat last season, winning 144 races across the state to win the Victorian Jockeys’ Premiership for the first time.

Having a very good association with Allen in the 2020-21 season was Ciaron Maher & David Eustace, who won three awards: the Victorian Trainers’ Premiership, the Metropolitan Trainers’ Premiership and the Fred Hoysted Medal.

Finishing the season with 228 winners in Victoria – including 73 in metropolitan races – at a strike rate of 20%, the training partnership also had success in the Cox Plate with Sir Dragonet, which contributed heavily to their tally of more than $11 million in prizemoney.

Maher & Eustace also took out the Fred Hoysted Medal, which recognises a stable’s excellence on the track as well as their contribution to the racing industry as a whole. The award is judged by a panel of racing participants and media representatives, and some contributing factors in the outcome include a trainer’s willingness to assist in the promotion of the sport and their availability for media requests.

The final prize of the evening was the Colin Alderson Award, which recognises emerging talent among the training ranks. That gong went to Ben Brisbourne, who trained 28 winners over the previous season at a 15% strike rate, with a career highlight being when he won the $250,000 Country Mile Series Final at Moonee Valley on All-Star Mile Day with Fontein Diamond.

2021 Victorian Racing Awards winners

Victorian Racehorse of the Year – Verry Elleegant

Scobie Breasley Medal – Jamie Kah

Fred Hoysted Medal – Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Tommy Corrigan Medal – Steven Pateman

Colin Alderson Award – Ben Brisbourne

VJA Most Valuable Jockey – Jamie Kah

VJA Rising Star – Will Price

Metropolitan Jockeys’ Premiership (Roy Higgins Medal) – Jamie Kah (105 wins)

Victorian Jockeys’ Premiership – John Allen (144 wins)

Metropolitan Apprentices’ Premiership – Will Price (47 wins)

Victorian Apprentices’ Premiership – Will Price (73 wins)

Metropolitan Trainers’ Premiership – Ciaron Maher & David Eustace (73 wins)

Victorian Trainers’ Premiership – Ciaron Maher & David Eustace (228 wins)

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