Harness racing stalwart Peter Cooley has been recognised for his lifetime service to the industry in Tasmanian in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Cooley, 79, was awarded the Order Of Australia Medal.
Born in Hobart, Peter’s father Ken was a leading owner and his grandfather Charles was an owner, trainer, driver, starter and handicapper. He quickly developed a knowledge and understanding of breeding and the history of trotting (harness racing) in Tasmania. He is now regarded as an expert in both areas.
From 1973 – 2002, less a period of six years, he served on the various controlling bodies, which included the Tasmanian Trotting Association, Trotting Control Board, Tasmanian Harness Racing Council and Harness Racing Tasmania. During this time he was instrumental in establishing the Tasmanian Sires Stakes Series, the first in Australia, Tasbred Bonuses and mares concessions.
Peter worked diligently for many years to help establish the guidelines for the highly successful Semen Transport Scheme.
His club involvement commenced with the Hobart Metropolitan Trotting Club (1960-1976)
and his longest period of service has been with the New Norfolk Pacing Club (1969-1995 and 2001-2002). He was a committeeman with the Tasmanian Pacing Club in 1980 and from 1990-1992.
Peter has also had a long-term involvement in Harness Racing journalism. His first article was published in the Australian Trotting Record in 1955 and he contributed items on a weekly basis until 1977.
For three years in the 1960’s he wrote for the Tasmanian Trotting Review – a monthly published by the Tasmanian Trotting Association. From 1977-1985 he contributed to another monthly – the Australian Trotting Register. He supplied a column for almost every issue of the monthly Tasmanian Harness Racing Gazette from 1981 to 2004.
Peter assisted Ken Dyer with the Stallion Index Book and his work has been published overseas in the New Zealand Trotting Calendar and the United States Harness Horse.
In 1990 he published a book that contained the breeding of all horses registered for racing in Tasmania from 1906-1950. In 2008 he compiled the book ‘Back To The Trots’, which is a history of harness racing in Tasmania. In 2011 he finished compiling a list of all Tasmanian winners from 1900 to 1986. The complete list is available at http://www.harness.org.au/hra/feature/rc.htm
Peter won the Australian Harness Racing Council (AHRC) Coulter Award for the Best Historical Article in 1979 and 2001 and Best Book in 2008. He has also received a Meritorious Service Award and a Distinguished Service Award (2002) from the AHRC.
Peter is a Life Member of the New Norfolk Pacing Club and the Tasmanian Pacing Club and was awarded the prestigious Edgar Tatlow Medal in 2002 for his outstanding contribution to Tasmanian harness racing. He bred and raced many horses with Regal Gail being his best.
Peter was the driving force behind the establishment of the Tasracing Harness Hall Of Fame and was an inaugural inductee in 2014.