Leading horsemen inducted into Equine Hall of Fame

2016 Equine Hall of Fame inducts four noted horsemen


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Darling Downs-based Thoroughbred specialist Peter Bredhauer welcomes Brisbane visitors Maureen Collier and the pioneering women's jockey, Pam O'Neill.

Darling Downs-based Thoroughbred specialist Peter Bredhauer welcomes Brisbane visitors Maureen Collier and the pioneering women's jockey, Pam O'Neill.

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Horse enthusiasts celebrate the Festival of the Horse with Equine Hall of Fame induction lunch.

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The induction of four horsemen into the Equine Hall of Fame was a signature draw card during the Festival of the Horse, held in Toowoomba, backing onto the last week of the Carnival of Flowers.

And while many attended events such as the horse expo and the polo demonstration, four notables were inducted into the Equine Hall of Fame, which is house in the Glenvale Room at the Toowoomba Showgrounds.

Sponsored by Fitton Insurance Brokers, the Equine Hall of Fame is chaired by tireless campaigner, Del Fitton. 

This year the four inductees were the late Pat O’Shea, the late Robert Atkinson, Bill Camer, and Terry Drennan.

Sponsor of the Equine Hall of Fame, Ron Fitton, Fitton Insurance Brokers, with members of the late Robert Atkinson family, his son Jim and wife Rachel and their daughter Kelsea.

Sponsor of the Equine Hall of Fame, Ron Fitton, Fitton Insurance Brokers, with members of the late Robert Atkinson family, his son Jim and wife Rachel and their daughter Kelsea.

The late Pat O’Shea was the voice at Clifford Park calling the races since 1986 until his death in September 2015. 

He first called the races aged 20, at the Tara Races on Melbourne Cup day.

In a career spanning 45 years he called 29 Weetwood Handicaps, three Victoria Racing Club Derby’s in 2007, 2008, and 2009, the 2008 Melbourne Cup, and the Golden Slipper in 2010.

Pat was honoured by the Toowoomba Turf Club, in the weeks following his death, with the Pat O’Shea Plate named in his memory.

The race had been earlier known as the Fitton Hopeful Stakes, a race Pat won as a part-owner when Ghostinthedarkness saluted in 2010.  

Also inducted was the late Robert Lamont Atkinson, of Furlong Thoroughbred Stud, Greenmount.

Rob devoted his life to breeding quality Droughtmaster cattle and notable racehorses such as Mittani, Irgunette, River Jordan, Let Me Tell, Prince Anton and Paprika.

In the early 1980s, Rob travelled to the United Kingdom to inspect race track design, and then used his knowledge to help with the development of Thornhill Park Thoroughbred Training Centre near Caboolture in partnership with Queensland’s leading trainer, Bruce McLachlan.

Rob had a love of studying horse pedigrees, and in 1998 he worked as a pedigree adviser for His Excellency Nasser Lootah, the Dubai-based owner of Emirates Park Stud, Scone, NSW.

In his role Rob was in control of the breeding program of 400 stud mares, in which he made the pedigree selections for their mating season. He held the position for 10 years when his health started to decline.

Rob’s pedigree knowledge and photographic memory was well known in the Thoroughbred breeding world, and his advice was well sought and respected. 

Jockey Bill Camer, who is claimed as being the world’s smallest jockey and stood at four foot two inches, but had the reputation of being one of the strongest, was also inducted. 

Now retired and living in Sydney, Bill started his racing career in Townsville as a 14-year-old.  He retired from race riding in 1991 aged 60, and is one of Australia’s most respected and accomplished jockeys. 

Bill career wins include three Stradbroke Handicaps, a Doncaster and Espom Handicap, Doomben 10,000 and the Doomben Cup on the popular galloper, Divide and Rule in 1970.

He also rode successfully in international races in America and South Africa, and won the Group One Singapore Gold Cup in Singapore. 

Toowoomba-based National Blacksmith and Farrier champion Terry Drennan was also inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Terry is best remembered for being the 1973 Mt Isa Rodeo Open Buckjumping champion in 1973, giving a spectacular display to win the event.

In 1990 he successfully completed the art Blacksmithing and Farrier and is the on-course barrier shoe inspector for the Toowoomba Turf Club.

He also teaches TAFE classes in the art of Blacksmithing and Farrier at Toowoomba’s Cobb and Co Museum.  

Guest at the luncheon were delighted to listen to guest speaker Pam O’Neill.

Pam is a true pioneer in the Thoroughbred industry and campaigned to change the rules of racing and allow female jockeys for 18 years.

Pam’s struggle for recognition in a man’s world was hard fought and she was granted her licence in 1979.   

“My husband Colin who trained horses retired as a jockey at 32 years, and I took it up at 34,” Pam told the audience.

Just four days after being granted her licence Pam set a world record for any jockey – male or female – and rode a treble on her first professional outing.

Pam rode for 22 years and recorded about 400 wins. One of her memorable wins was sharing the double with trainer husband Colin in 1979.

Her favourite horse was Supersnack and she won 18 races including the 1990 Rockhampton Cup.

Pam won an international 'ladies' jockey race on Ropely Lad, and also out-rode the great Roy Higgins to win a unisex race at Moonee Valley in Melbourne.

After Pam retired from racing she was the senior riding instructor for apprentices at Queensland Racing.

Pam’s sense of humour really emerged when discussing Michelle Payne’s Melbourne Cup victory.

When asked about Michelle’s famous ‘get stuffed’ comment after the Cup, Pam responded.

“It really must be something female jockeys say a fair bit,” she laughed.

“It really must be something female jockeys say a fair bit,” she laughed. - Pioneering women's jockey Pam O'Neill

“I told a trainer (my husband in fact) to ‘get stuffed’ after he had given me a hell of a serve in the enclosure after a race.

“Colin went straight to the stewards and complained that I had sworn at him.

“The stewards just had a good laugh and told him to forget about it.”

Pam also works tirelessly for the National Jockeys’ Trust established by the Australian Jockeys Association to provide support to jockeys, and their families, who have encountered career ending injuries or death, and are in need of assistance. 

The story Leading horsemen inducted into Equine Hall of Fame first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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