Six people and four horses were inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame on Sunday night in a gala dinner in Hamilton.
They included champion racehorses Verry Elleegant, Melody Belle and Beau Vite, leading trainers Paul O’Sullivan, Michael Moroney and George Price and outstanding jockeys Opie Bosson and Keith Voitre.
Also inducted was breeder, auctioneer and administrator Ken Austin along with long-serving Wrightson Managing Director Michael Floyd.
Since the inaugural New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame dinner in 2006, 41 horses from racehorses to stallions and broodmares, and 53 people – including trainers, jockeys, owners, breeders and administrators – have been inducted to the elite list that honours New Zealand’s highest achievers in the thoroughbred sphere.
Champion jockey Opie Bosson said it had been a long-standing ambition to one day be inducted alongside those he admired so much.
“It means the world to me,” Bosson said. “It’s good just to be recognised for my achievements. It is really, really cool.
“Lance O’Sullivan was my idol as a kid and he was inducted in the inaugural Hall Of Fame and I thought it was something I really wanted to achieve.
“It has been hard over the years, particularly with the wasting, but it is rewarding when you get a winner, no matter what type of winner it is.”
With 91 Group One wins to his name Bosson is keen to hit the century within the next few years, while he is also closing in on 2000 career victories, currently sitting on 1959.
“I’m 42 now so hopefully I can get it by the time I am 45 and then we’ll see what happens after that,” he said.
Also on-hand for the awards was Trans-Tasman trainer Michael Moroney, who said it was an honour and he was pleased his late father Denny, who passed away last year aged 93, was aware of the then impending induction.
“It means a lot,” Moroney said.
“We lost Dad 10 months ago and he was a big part of it. Luckily, I was told on the quiet that it was happening and I could let Dad know.
“He knew it was happening and I know he would be very proud of me and the whole family, because it has been a family thing.”
Moroney, who has 55 Group One wins to his name said the win of Brew in the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) was a highlight of his career, while the Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) is the most coveted race that he has yet to win.
“The Melbourne Cup was a life-changing event,” Moroney said. “It wasn’t until I won it that I realised what it was like. I had been living in Victoria where I wasn’t that well known, even though I had trained a Victoria Derby (Gr.1, 2500m) winner.
“I was well known in New Zealand but certainly not over there (Australia) and when I won the Melbourne Cup it all changed and no matter where I went in the world it changed. It was quite mind-boggling as to what it actually means.”
It was fitting that Moroney and recently retired trainer Paul O’Sullivan were inducted on the same night, with the pair having trained in partnership early in their careers along with Paul’s Hall of Fame father Dave.
“It’s great. We both got our trainers’ licence the same day,” Moroney said.
“I’d like to find a copy of it, but Paul and I knew it all when we were young and we actually wrote a book between us as to how to train a racehorse.
“I’d love to read it now and see what we wrote but I can’t find a copy of it.
“Paul was the best man at my wedding and we’ve been close mates all the way through despite heading in different paths.”