Celebrating New Zealand’s champions
On Sunday 7 May, New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame inducted its latest honourees. Among them were equine and human champions of the turf with strong links to Flemington and the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
Established in 2003, with the inaugural event announcing the first inductees in 2006, the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame recognises and honours those whose achievements have enriched the New Zealand thoroughbred industry. Inductees are chosen from across New Zealand’s thoroughbred history and industry in two categories: Horses and People.
The selection panel is comprised of journalists, historians and industry professionals, who seek to identify and acknowledge those whose stories deserve recognition.
Among many other criteria, each inductee selected has been a participant in the history of the New Zealand racing industry in some shape or form.
This year, Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Mike Moroney is among the inductees, along with fellow Cup winner Verry Elleegant. Melody Belle, winner of the 2019 TAB Empire Rose Stakes and her jockey in that victory, Opie Bosson, are also both set to be honoured.
Speaking to the team at the VRC, Moroney said it was “unbelievable” to be recognised. The trainer of 55 Group 1 winners, including Brew in the 2000 Melbourne Cup said he always dreamed of winning the iconic race. "In New Zealand when you’re brought up, that is the race. It stops New Zealand as well," he said.
Other 2023 inductees will include the champion World War ll-era racehorse Beau Vite and jockey Keith Voitre.
Both have strong ties to Australia, with Voitre, who rode his first winner at age 15 in the 1920s having success in the 1935 Victorian spring carnival included the Cox Plate, Victoria Derby and VRC Oaks and the Melbourne Cup (when he won on Marabou). He was tragically killed in a race fall at Moonee Valley in 1938.
Already a member of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, Beau Vite’s record of 31 wins from 60 starts between 1938 and 1942 included the 1940 Great Northern Derby, NZ St Leger and Auckland Cup in his homeland. He then added Australian success that included two Cox Plates and an LKS Mackinnon Stakes, as well as 10 feature races at Randwick.
The connection to Flemington and the Melbourne Cup features strongly in the list of past New Zealand Hall of Fame inductees also, reading like a who’s who of the famed race. Without naming every single one, the list includes Bart Cummings, Jim Cassidy, Sir Patrick Hogan, Greame Rogerson, Ethereal, Might And Power, Horlicks, Let’s Elope, Phar Lap and most recently in 2021, the dynamic Kiwi duo of Chris Waller and James McDonald.