October 12, 2021 11:01 am.
Chris Waller took out the Bart Cummings Medal and the TJ Smith Award for 2020/21, while three of his runners were honoured at the Australian Racehorse of the Year ceremony on Monday night.
For the sixth year in a row, Chris Waller has trained the Australian Racehorse of the Year, with his champion mare Verry Elleegant receiving the honour on Monday night for her efforts in the 2020/21 racing season.
Verry Elleegant had an incredible 12 months, winning five Group 1 races and finishing runner-up in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, with her worst result throughout the season being her seventh-place effort in the 2020 Melbourne Cup on her first attempt at 3200m.
The six-year-old mare also won the award for Champion Stayer and Champion Middle Distance Horse on the back of her wins in high-profile races such as the Winx Stakes (1400m), Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m), Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and especially the Caulfield Cup (2400m).
“It’s a tremendous honour,” Verry Elleegant’s co-owner Mark Carter said at the awards night.
“I pinch myself often, just that we’ve got a horse of this calibre.”
Waller once again stamped his dominance on Australian racing, as Hungry Heart won the Champion 3YO Filly, while Nature Strip was awarded Champion Sprinter, 12 months on from winning the Australian Racehorse of the Year gong.
“We’re very fortunate in our stable to have some great horses,” Waller said.
“To win the Horse of the Year again, Three-Year-Old of the Year, Sprinter of the Year and various other categories, I’m personally very proud, and I know each one of my team is as well.”
It wasn’t just Waller’s horses receiving accolades on Monday night, with the champion trainer also taking home the Bart Cummings Medal and TJ Smith Award.
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The Bart Cummings Medal is awarded to the most outstanding NSW performer among jockeys and trainers throughout the season, while the TJ Smith Award is awarded to the premier trainer.
“It’s a great privilege to win this award,” Waller said upon receiving the Bart Cummings Medal.
“The legendary Bart Cummings gave me my first one, and I can still remember the moment – one of the highlights of my career, that’s for sure.
“Racing history in Australia is something that none of us take for granted; to have trainers like Bart Cummings, Tommy Smith, Colin Hayes and now the next generation of trainers coming along, we can certainly respect what those trainers did before us and even before that.
“I think it’s our job now to make sure we do the same, so I’m certainly a very proud recipient.
“I’ve got some great horses to train and that’s the reason I’m here, and I’ve got a great team of staff who support me day in day out, through the good and the bad.”
Partnering Waller in numerous Group 1 victories throughout the 2020/21 season was James McDonald, who won the George Moore Award as Sydney’s premier jockey for the fifth time.
McDonald rode 131 winners in the season, with notable victories aboard Nature Strip in the TJ Smith Stakes, Zaaki in the Doomben Cup and Verry Elleegant in three of her five Group 1 successes.
“It’s a huge thrill to be accepting this award,” McDonald said.
“We’ve had a fantastic year with so many thrills throughout the year with the Group 1 races.
“I’d like to thank all my trainers that have supported me throughout the year.”
2020/21 Australian Racehorse of the Year award winners
Australian Racehorse of the Year
Champion 3YO Colt or Gelding
Champion 3YO Filly
Champion Middle Distance
Champion Group 1 Trainer
Champion Group 1 Jockey
Racing NSW Awards for Excellence winners
Bart Cummings Medal
TJ Smith Award
George Moore Award
Theo Green Award
Sydney Strapper of the Year
Caryl Williamson Media Personality of the Year
BOBS Horse of the Year