VETERAN Tasmanian thoroughbred trainer Neil Richardson was paid the ultimate tribute for his service to the industry when he was inducted into the Tasmanian Racing Hall of Fame at the annual industry awards night gala dinner at Country Club Tasmania in Launceston last night.
“This is the ultimate highlight of my6 training career,” Richardson said.
“To be recognised by your peers and honoured in this way is something really special and something I will cherish forever,” he said.
Richardson was destined to train racehorses having been raised in a racing family.
His father Chappy Richardson was a talented harness trainer and that led to Neil learning all aspects of stable life.
He also dreamed of being a jockey and in his early teens he would hitchhike from his home at Lindisfarne to Sorell to ride trackwork for trainer Bert Webb.
But when he realised weight would be his nemesis he set his sights on training.
He had to wait until his 18th birthday to acquire his trainer’s licence and inside a year he prepared his first winner Share Breaker for owner Ken Parsons.
Neil’s first stable star was Sword of India that he prepared to win 18 races ranging in distance from 1000 metres to 2000 metres in the late 1960s.
During his heyday Neil would only ever have a maximum of six horses in his stable at any one time but the small numbers didn’t prevent him from winning almost every feature race on the calendar over a career that has so far covered five decades.
His great association with owner Clarrie Johnston is well documented and one of the horses from that partnership was Knock On Wood who delivered 22 wins in a career that included victory in a Tasmanian Newmarket Handicap carrying 61.5 kg.
Neil still regards Knock On Wood as the best he has trained but he also rates his Hobart Cup winner Kubla Khan the best stayer he has saddled up.
He also regards My Temptation as the most difficult and frustrating horse he has trained.
“My Temptation has so much ability but she is her own worst enemy. She is cantankerous, spiteful and moody but when she races she can be sensational,” he said.
One of his most satisfying wins was with King of Belmont in the 1990 Tasmanian Derby.
As a trainer Neil Richardson has achieved everything he has set out to do but it has been his willingness to offer help and advice to his fellow industry participants that makes him such a worthy addition to the Tasmanian Racing Hall of Fame.