I was very pleased to learn that two Tasmanian harness racing stalwarts – Peter Cooley and Chester Bullock – were recently recognised individually for their outstanding contributions to the industry in this state.
Peter was awarded the Order Of Australia Medal in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, while Chester received a Harness Racing Australia distinguished service award.
Looking over their list of achievements to prepare this column, it is little wonder that they have been recognised for what, for both of them, has been a lifetime commitment to the industry.
Quite literally born into the harness code as his father, Ken, was a leading owner and his grandfather, Charles, an owner, trainer, driver, starter and handicapper, Peter was always destined for strong involvement in the harness code.
He served on various controlling bodies, including the Tasmanian Trotting Association, Trotting Control Board, Tasmanian Harness Racing Council and Harness Racing Tasmania, between 1973 and 2002.
He 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 also a harness racing journalist. His first article was published in the Australian Trotting Record in 1955. He also wrote for the Tasmanian Trotting Review, the Australian Trotting Register and the Tasmanian Harness Racing Gazette.
Chester is an owner, breeder, trainer, administrator and sponsor and, like Peter Cooley, was always going to have some sort of harness racing involvement given the interest his parents held in the code.
The current president of the Launceston Pacing Club (LPC) and a member for 20-years, he joined the Northern Tasmanian Light Harness Association (NTLHA) in 1995 where he has served for 21-years as its president.
He was an inaugural member of the Tasmanian Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association, serving as president for seven years.
Further, through his company Bullock Consulting (now 6tyo), Chester has been one of the major harness sponsors in Tasmania. His sponsorship has extended to all clubs in the north and north west with some of his more prominent exposure being through the Youngbloods series (16 years), the Bandbox at Launceston (21 years), the Devonport Cup, the Burnie Cup and the Country Guineas (St Marys).
As I noted at the outset, it is easy to see why, when reading through just some of their achievements, that Peter and Chester have been recognised.
It is a credit to them that their peers value their contribution so highly.
From the Tasmanian racing industry’s perspective, we are lucky to have them working so hard for the harness code, both historically and today.
We should all be very proud that Peter and Chester are so highly regarded in a national context and have attracted this recognition which reflects positively on the state’s broader racing industry.
Dr Eliot Forbes