From The Commentary Box – 7 October, 2013

I love it when a plan comes together.

 The Cambridge Jockey Club’s annual awards last week, had its very own cloak and dagger element to it.

While outstanding local galloper Dundeel raced away with most of the awards including the prestigious Horse of the Year title, it was the Alan Bremner Memorial for Contribution to Cambridge Racing which had many of the large crowd perplexed.

In a well orchestrated ruse, the eventual winner of the award Cambridge JC Chief Executive Gayle Barkla, was kept in the dark right until the last minute.

Barkla has been the long time Chief Executive for the club, and she really does know everything that goes on in the place.

One of her duties in her role is to organize our annual awards evening.

Obviously, she has to get the winners names of the various awards etched on to their trophies in time for the presentations.

This presented a dilemma when the judging panel selected Barkla as the winner of the Contribution Award.

How did we keep her from knowing the result?

A plan was subsequently hatched whereby Barkla was told, yours truly was the winner.

I reckon I would have been a worthy winner too …..but I digress.

The plan worked so well Barkla took the bait, hook line and sinker!

Mind you judging by the reaction on the night, she wasn’t alone.

The select few who knew about the elaborate ruse, obviously included myself and fellow committee members Liz Smith and Brian O’Shea.

It worked so well that Tony Pike, who presented the award actually thought I was the fair dinkum winner of the award.

Taking his presenting responsiblities very seriously, Pike then enlisted the help of another fellow committee member Bruce Sherwin, to write a glowing speech extolling the virtues of why George Simon was such a worthy winner of the award!

It was only prior to Pike taking the stage, that he became aware of the ruse and who the real winner was.

Undeterred, Pike soldiered on stoically reading the carefully prepared citation written by Bruce Sherwin.

Once I got on stage I let the cat out of the bag and told everyone it was in fact Gayle Barkla who had won the award.

Disconcertingly, I did notice the reception Barkla got was much more enthusastic than the one I got …..but again I digress….

Seriously though, the award was acknowledgement of the great job Gayle Barkla has done for the Cambridge JC over many years and thoroughly deserving.


As mentioned earlier Dundeel scooped all the major prizes including Cambridge Stud Horse of the Year.

His co trainer Andrew Forsman was a frequent visitor to the stage picking up the six awards won by Dundeel.

Last season was a record breaking one for Cambridge trained horses with thirteen Group One wins throughout the race tracks of Australasia.

Spear headed by Dundeel, the list of Group One winners included Fleur De Lune, Historian, Sacred Falls, More Than Sacred, Roll Out The Carpet, Veyron, Sangster and Ruud Awakening.

Some serious horse power there ……I kid you not!!


Finally, congratulations to Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue who received the CJC Outstanding Achiever of the Year award in recognition of their two Group One winners of last season, Sacred Falls and More Than Sacred.

They came within a nose of winning three Group Ones when second in the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton.

And at Te Rapa last Friday the training combination unleashed another potential top liner in Allez Eagle.

The son of Guillotine was hugely impressive on debut and he is headed straight to the top.


I’ll catch you next week.