By Keith Hillier
Lloyd Williams, owner of five Melbourne Cup winners, described his induction into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in mid-May as the most humbling experience of his 60-year involvement in racing.
“I am an old man (77) now and I have been involved in the racing industry for 90 per cent of my life,” he said. “It is a great honor to be included in the illustrious list of famous racing names and I am absolutely delighted.
“I can now put to rest my ambition to equal Bart Cummings’ record of 12 Melbourne Cup wins,” he joked. “I had hoped to do that before the end of the century.”
The former committee member of the Victoria Racing Club has had five Melbourne Cup winners, starting with Just a Dash in 1981 followed by What A Nuisance, Efficient, Green Moon and last year’s winner, Almandin. His other major race wins include the Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Caulfield Cups, a Golden Slipper Stakes and VRC and AJC Derbys.
Trainer Gai Waterhouse said Williams was unique in racing as he had been a major owner for five decades. “Lloyd is racing’s greatest blessing and asset,” she said.
Eleven inductees were added to the Hall Of Fame, now in its 17th year. They included four racehorses – Archer, who won the first two Melbourne Cups (1861-62), Saintly, Light Fingers and the current ‘first lady’ of Australian racing and the world’s champion mare, Winx.
The Chris Waller-trained mare has won her past 17 starts, all in elite company. The wins include two W.S. Cox Plates, Epsom and Doncaster and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at her past start. She is the reigning (2015-2016) Horse of the Year and is assured of this season’s title after 12 Group 1 wins.
Winx shares the privilege of being inducted into the Hall of Fame whilst still racing with other legendary mares, Black Caviar and Sunline.
The spring target for Winx is the Cox Plate in a bid to join Kingston Town as the only three-time winner and to surpass three-time Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva as the highest stakes earner in Australian racing.
Waller said it was an honour for Winx to sit alongside the champion racehorses already in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame. “Her career has been a bit of a blur, but this recognition makes you sit back and realize what she has done,” he said. “We are very proud”.
Chairman of the Australian Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, Greg Carpenter, said Winx was a deserving inductee. “Winx has captured the imagination of racing fans across the globe and is undisputedly the best mare in the world,” he said.
Archer, apart from winning the first two runnings of the Melbourne Cup, also won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes when it was named the AJC Plate. He won 13 races from 17 starts and still shares the Melbourne Cup’s greatest winning margin of eight lengths with the 1968 winner Rain Lover.
Light Fingers won the VRC and AJC Oaks before she became the first Bart Cummings-trained winner of the Melbourne Cup, setting a then weight-carrying record for a mare, in 1965. Injuries restricted Light Fingers in 1996 but she finished a brave second, carrying 57kg to champion Galilee.
Saintly was, perhaps, Bart’s favorite racehorse. He won the Australian Cup as a three-year-old in 1996 and in the spring of that year won the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup. Hall of Fame jockey Darren Beadman described Saintly as “the horse from heaven” and said he deserved to join the select group.
Two jockeys were inducted this year – Tommy Corrigan and John Miller. Corrigan, who won the Grand National seven times, was regarded as Australia’s greatest jumps jockey. He died after a race fall in 1894.
Miller, known by his given-names initials ‘JJ’, rode 2200 winners – the most memorable was Galilee on whom he won the Melbourne, Caulfield and Sydney Cups in the 1966-67 season, along with the C.B. Fisher Plate, Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Autumn Stakes.
In 1970 Miller resettled in his home city, Perth, where he won every major race including the WATC Australian Derby six times. Miller said there could be no great honour than to be inducted into the Hall of Fame after being in racing “all my life”.
Two trainers posthumously completed the 2017 list – Brian Courtney and Des Judd.
Courtney won three successive Victorian trainers’ premierships in the 1960s. His star horses included Dhaulagiri, New Statesman, Coppelius and Better Lad. His feature race wins included two Victoria Derbies, a Cox Plate, Caulfield Guineas and Brisbane Cup.
Judd’s career spanned four decades. He won the Victorian trainers’ premiership three times during the 1950s and 60s. His feature race wins included the VRC Derby and Oaks, Newmarket Handicap and Oakleigh Plate.
He was a prolific trainer of jump-race winners and he prepared Crisp before he finished second in the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree, UK.
Joining Williams as associate inductees were former Victorian chief stipendiary steward Alan Bell and the Lee-Steere family.
Edward Spencer “Alan” Bell rode and trained horses before being appointed a stipendiary steward with the Northern District Racing Association. He joined the VRC and became chairman of stewards from 1945 until his death in 1955. He earned a reputation of being tough but fair.
The Lee-Steere family was prominent in Australian racing for more than a century. Augustus Lee-Steere was the third chairman of the WATC for two years from 1868; his son Sir Ernest Lee-Steere held the position for 21 years as did his grandson Sir Ernest Lee-Steere (jr). The family played a major role in WA’s racing and breeding industries.
All Australian Racing Hall of Fame inductees were celebrated at feature race meetings on Saturday, May 20, including Flemington, Rosehill, Doomben, Belmont and Morphettville.