Majestic Man Otago horse of year
By Jonny Turner
Majestic Man was crowned Otago Horse Of The Year on Saturday night following his breakout season in the open trotting ranks.
The Phil Williamson-trained squaregaiter was crowned 4yr-old male trotter of the year before claiming the top prize at the Otago Harness Racing Awards at Forbury Park.
Williamson took home a boot-load of trophies, including trainer of the year.
Liberty Stride, (3yr-old trotting filly), Kenny's Dream (4yr-old trotting mare), and Jen Jaccka (aged trotting mare) each won their categories for the Oamaru trainer.
Williamson stables drivers and fiances, Matthew Williamson and Charlotte Purvis, won driver of the year and junior driver of the year, respectively.
Williamson was denied another win by his son, Brad, when Cracker Hill edged out Ultimate Stride in the 2yr-old trotting category.
Three stalwarts of the Otago harness racing industry were recognised with significant contribution awards on Saturday night.
Graeme Mee was acknowledged for his lengthy service as clerk of the course at several of the province's harness tracks.
North Taieri trainer-driver Craig Buchan also took home a significant contribution award for his nearly 40-year contribution to the Otago industry.
Popular Central Otago horseman Bryan "Ginger" Woodhouse was recognised for his 60 years as a trainer, driver, owner, breeder and administrator.
Ultimate Sniper beat out a star-studded line-up to win best Otago-owned horse of the year.
The two-time Derby winner beat racetrack stars Eamon Maguire, Havtime, Majestic Man, Princess Tiffany and Speeding Spur.
Foreal knocked off an equally impressive line-up to win the broodmare excellence award.
The dam of Australasia's fastest ever pacer, Field Marshal, won the category over Bethany, Fleet's Pocket and One Over Kenny.
Roxburgh trainers Geoff and Jude Knight enjoyed a successful evening at Saturday night's awards.
Their pacers The Ideal Touch (2yr-old male pacer), Candidasa (4yr-old male pacer) and Sounds Bettor (aged pacing mare) collected titles.
One of the most popular victories of the night came when Waikouaiti warhorse Alexy won the aged male pacer of the year.
Forbury Park trainer, Darryn Simpson, who trained Alexy to one of his three wins last season, was crowned Otago's strike rate trainer of the year.
Other category winners included Motu Top Mach (3yr-old male pacer), Tango Dancer (3yr-old pacing filly) and Count Eyre (3yr-old male trotter).
Thoroughbred training great Dave O'Sullivan was warmly received as the guest speaker at the awards evening.
The 12-time national champion trainer gave Saturday night's crowd an insight into his own career and those of his sons, Paul and Lance.
O'Sullivan also reminisced and spoke about the careers of former top line gallopers Horlicks, Mr Tiz and Waverly Star.
Full winners list
2yr-old male pacers
The Ideal Touch.
2yr-old male trotters
3yr-old male pacers
Motu Top Mach
3yr-old pacing fillies
3yr-old male trotters
3yr-old trotting fillies
4yr-old male pacers
4yr-old pacing mares
4yr-old male trotters
4yr-old trotting mares
5yr-old and older male pacers
5yr-old and older pacing mares
5yr-old and older trotter.
5yr-old and older trotting mares
Letty Ferguson Memorial Award for most improved mare
Best Otago Owned Horse
Broodmare Excellence Award
Breeders Of The Year
Lex and Heather Williams
Trainer of the year
Strike rate trainer of the year
Driver of the year
Junior driver of the year
Significant contribution to Otago Harness Racing
Otago Horse Of The Year