Fiona McIntyre has been recognised for her tireless work in re-training and re-homing former racehorses by being presented with the 2020 Lady of Racing Award.
The annual award, run by The Victorian Wakeful Club in partnership with Racing Victoria (RV), celebrates women who have made an outstanding contribution to the thoroughbred racing or breeding industries.
McIntyre, who has several former champions of the turf in her care, was announced as the 2020 Lady Of Racing at a lavish luncheon held at The Glasshouse, in Richmond. She received a necklace from last year’s award winner, jockey Christine Puls, and flowers from the President of The Victorian Wakeful Club, Caitrin Kelly.
The other finalists in the running for the prestigious award were former President of the Victorian Wakeful Club, Jenny Moodie; founder of the Racing Hearts program, Lisa Coffey; and jockey, trainer and Clerk of the Course, Sally Wynne.
RV’s CEO, Giles Thompson, acknowledged the strength of this year’s candidates, saying: “There were four exceptional finalists this year from all facets of the industry, making it a very difficult selection process and I congratulate Fiona as the eventual – and very worthy – winner.
“Fiona has long been an advocate for life-after-racing, and has worked tirelessly to ensure former racehorse lead happy and healthy lives once they have left the track.
“We are very fortunate to have Fiona as one of the RV Acknowledged Re-trainers who support our Off The Track program, which aims to facilitate the placement of retired racehorses in secondary careers and drive demand for thoroughbreds as performance and pleasure horses.”
Although she retrains several ex-racehorses, it is McIntyre’s work with two former champions that sets her apart. She looks after Bart Cummings’ former grand stayer Precedence, who competed in four Melbourne Cups and won two Moonee Valley Cups in his 69-start career. He is now forging an equestrian career and has competed in the past two Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout events – widely recognised as the pinnacle of the horse showing world.
Also in her care is two-time Group 1 winner Sirmione, who was also trained by Cummings. He won the Group 1 MacKinnon Stakes in 2007, competed in the Melbourne Cup in the same year and went on to win the Group 1 Australian Cup in 2008.
Reg Fleming, who used to be Bart Cummings’ right-hand man and now works as stable foreman for his grandson, Godolphin head trainer James, paid tribute to McIntyre.
“Retired racehorses need a good home, and with Fiona they have that in spades,” said Fleming.
“She’s a hard worker, she loves the show ring, and she does incredibly well to fit it all in.”
Peter Heagney, Equestrian Victoria Show Horse Chairman, also believes McIntyre was a worthy winner of the award.
“What sets Fiona apart from some other very accomplished re-trainers is her drive, determination and willingness to showcase the wonderful secondary careers that ex-racehorses can enjoy,” he said.
President Of The Victorian Wakeful Club, Caitrin Kelly, said: “After receiving a record number of very worthy nominations, it was a difficult task to select a winner.
“Fiona set herself apart as she goes above and beyond caring for her horses, helping to promote life after racing and the Off The Track program.
“She is a deserved winner, and we look forward to having Fiona as an Ambassador for the Lady of Racing Award over the coming years.”
The other winners on the day were Carleen Hefel, who was awarded the Marie McCullough Apprentice Jockey Training Program Scholarship; her fellow jockey Jess Eaton, who claimed the Victorian Premiership Apprentice Jockey Award; Natalie Young, the winner of the Victorian Premiership Trainer Award, and Doris Thurgood, who was presented with the Spirit of Racing Award.