The Kris Lees-trained and Australian Bloodstock-owned Raheen House and Zeftabrook have claimed the Newcastle Jockey Club horse of the year titles, while apprentice Louise Day earned the rising star award.
Raheen House was horse of the year after his group 2 victory in the Chairman’s Quality (2600 metres) and third in the group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) in April at Randwick.
Zeftabrook edged out stablemate The Bopper for the two-year-old crown after her victory in open company in the $200,000 Wellington Boot (1100m) in April, which followed a win in the Starmaker Handicap (1000m) at Muswellbrook.
The Bopper was also in the frame after a track record debut at Tamworth in the Romantic Dream (1000m) and win in the $100,000 Scone Inglis Challenge. The pair trial at Newcastle on Wednesday in preparation for spring campaigns.
Raheen House resumed on August 15 at Randwick with a four-length fifth in the Premier’s Cup Prelude (1800m). The seven-year-old, along with the likes of Mustajeer, Attention Run, Mugatoo, Almania and Collide, will spearhead Lees and Australian Bloodstock’s Melbourne Cup carnival campaign.
“We were happy with how he run the other day, he just needs further ground,” Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell said of Raheen House. “I’m not sure if he’ll go to a Newcastle Cup, or Wyong Cup, Metropolitan. But they say he’s going a lot better this prep.”
Day, who is indentured to Lees, gained the rising star award for her stellar finish to the 2019-20 season.
The Irishwoman was rewarded for her bold move to the metropolitan zone in May during COVID-19 regional restrictions on jockeys. Day rode 10 city winners in the final 11 weeks of the season and she has six in town already this month.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the NJC will not hold a presentation for their award winners.
The club’s premiership champions were jockey Andrew Gibbons, Godolphin trainer James Cummings and apprentice Tom Sherry.
Gibbons claimed his third home-track premiership with 29 wins, nine ahead of Sherry, who dominated the apprentices’ crown. He was 13 clear of Samantha Clenton and Cejay Graham.
Cummings had 22 victories, two ahead of Lees.
The Freedman brothers training partnership secured the Max Lees Medal, while jockey Aaron Bullock won the Bill Wade Medal. The awards are based on winning strike rates at Newcastle.
The Freedmans had 12 wins from 51 runners (4.25), edging out John O’Shea’s 10 from 43 (4.3). Bullock had 19 in 58 rides (3.05) to finish ahead of Gibbons (4.86).
The Cessnock premiership winners were Lees (three wins), Christian Reith (six) and Sherry (two).
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