Special award for “Mr Nice Guy”

Addictive Habit providing trainer Lee Somervell with success in the Gr. 1 Livamol Classic at Hastings last year.

Addictive Habit providing trainer Lee Somervell with success in the Gr. 1 Livamol Classic at Hastings last year.

The look on Lee Somervell’s face said it all when he was announced as the winner of a special trophy at last night’s 2015-16 Cambridge Jockey Club Awards function in Cambridge.

The popular Cambridge trainer picked up the Alan Bremner Memorial Contribution to Cambridge Racing Award and was totally overwhelmed by the honour bestowed upon him.

With his head in his hands, Somervell was shaking his head in disbelief and trying to hold back the tears as he stood up to make his way to the stage to be presented with the award by Bremner’s widow, Wendy.

It has been an emotional and heart-wrenching time for Somervell with the recent death of his wife, Nell, who succumbed to cancer after being diagnosed just a few months earlier. And to be handed the award by someone who knew exactly what he was going through made the occasion even more emotional.

“Wendy and I were reminiscing earlier in the night over the hardships we’ve both been through,” said Somervell. “Nell would have been very happy about this. I’m so humbled.”

Before announcing Somervell’s name as the winner of the award, CJC Vice President Brian O’Shea briefly touched on the master horseman’s deeds, including his valued contribution to the Cambridge centre and racing in general. He then aptly summed it up when calling Somervell “one of racing’s nice guys.”

Lee and his late wife, Nell, at last year's CJC Awards function.

Lee and his late wife, Nell, at last year’s CJC Awards function.

Somervell’s CV includes his involvement as horse trainer for the Lord Of The Rings movies and Northern President of the NZ Trainers’ Association, a role which he has recently undertaken again. Through it all his late wife was a major supporter and her absence from last night’s function was felt by all present.

When making his acceptance speech, Somervell was quick to give credit to all his staff, family, friends and colleagues for helping him through such a sad time in his life.

“The staff have been great,” he said. “They helped keep me going — they believe in me. And the camaraderie among the Cambridge trainers is great.”

Somervell had no idea he was about to receive the Alan Bremner Memorial award. He, along with some of Addictive Habit’s honours, including Hastings breeder Isabel Roddick, were on hand to accept the Northern Raceday Services Group One Award for Addictive Habit’s win in last year’s Livamol Classic.

It therefore came as another pleasant surprise when Addictive Habit was named as joint winner with Turn Me Loose of the Cambridge Equine Hospital Leading Weight-For-Age Performer Award.

The busiest recipient on the night was Andrew Forsman, who almost wore a track between his leaner and the stage accepting awards for both himself and his training partner, Murray Baker, and the stable’s host of top horses.

Forsman and Baker picked up the Bruce MacDonald Memorial Leading Trainer Award and the Auckland Racing Club Leading Trainer on Premier Racedays Award, while Turn Me Loose, Mongolian Khan and Luna Rossa drew Forsman back to the stage when winning awards.

As well as sharing the weight-for-age award with Addictive Habit, Turn Me Loose picked up four other awards – the Crombie Lockwood Leading Sprinter, JLT Bloodstock Leading Middle-Distance Performer, the Haunui Farm Group One Award and the Henley Park Group One Award.

Mongolian Khan, now retired and standing at Windsor Park Stud, was recognised for his Gr. 1 Caulfield Cup win when taking the Trelawney Stud Leading Stayer Award and the Windsor Park Stud Group One Award. He then went on to be named the Cambridge Stud CJC Horse Of The Year for the second season on end.

Luna Rossa was acknowledged for her win in the Gr. 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes with the NZ Bloodstock Group One Award, while she was outvoted for the Horse Transport Services Leading Two-Year-Old Award by the Tony Pike-trained Sacred Elixir, who picked up the NZ Bloodstock Insurance Group One Award for his victory in the JJ Atkins Stakes in Brisbane.

Pike’s wife, Kirsten, was almost as familiar a face on the stage as Forsman when representing her husband with awards won by Sacred Elixir, Queensland Oaks winner Provocative (Cogswell Surveys Group One Award), and NZ Derby winner Rangipo (Herbert Morton Leading Three-Year-Old Award and Darryl Anderson PR Group One Award).

Local trainer Mark Brooks was on stage accepting the Alan Pringle Memorial Leading Jumping Trainer Award and the Hautapu Veterinary Clinic Leading Jumper Award for his Great Northern Steeplechase winner Jack Romanov.

Viktoria Gatu won The Clubhouse Sports Bar Leading Apprentice Award, Michael Mitchell the Porritt Sand Leading Jumping Rider Award and Danielle Johnson landed the Helloworld Leading Senior Jockey Award, while the Cambridge Jockey Club Gap Staff Most Obliging Track Rider Award went to Aleisha Legg, from the Baker – Forsman stable.

Australian Derby winner Tavago was recognised with the Majestic Horse Floats Group One Award and Auckland Cup longshot winner El Soldado with the Fairview Ford Group One Award.

Gerry Harvey was named winner of the Jen Campin Bloodstock Breeder of the most Cambridge-trained winners Award. Harvey, owner of Westbury Stud, had 18 home-bred winners from the centre, including Sofia Rosa, who was recognised for her ATC Oaks win with the Westbury Stud Group One Award.