Finalists – Dedication to Racing Award 2020 – Sponsored by The Australian Turf Club
26 May 2020
Dedication is a powerful theme possessed by every nominee in every category of the Stud and Stable Staff Awards, and in Michael Hurry and Brett “Lofty” Killion it is particularly well-defined.
Both men have been in the industry since they were boys, and both remain as devoted as ever.
Brett “Lofty” Killion began his working association with horseracing in 1996 when he joined the Gai Waterhouse stable at Randwick as a strapper and it continues today as the foreman at Chris Waller’s Queensland stable on the Gold Coast.
In between he has worked for such notable trainers as John Thompson and John O’Shea and he guided Godolphin’s G1 Stradbroke Handicap winner Impending through some difficult days in the lead up to what was a crowning moment in the career of his trainer, Darren Beadman.
For Killion, dedication to his horses has always been his motivation. But the people he has met and learned from over the past 25 years have also made racing a lifelong passion.
“I love it all. The characters, horses and human, they are what keeps me in the game,” Killion says.
“Some of my best friends are people I met at Gai’s on my first day working there.
“And the memory of some of the horses I’ve looked after will always be with me.”
Killion stayed with Waterhouse for more than 15 years during which time he worked with a man who he regards as one of his greatest mentors, “Spider” Barker.
“Spider was a long-time foreman with Tommy Smith and stayed on with Gai. He’d seen it all and taught me things and gave me advice that still helps me through every day,” he says.
“Ever since then, I’ve learned from the best. There’s been the pure horsemanship of John Thompson, the work ethic of Gai Waterhouse, the sharpness of John O’Shea’s mind and Chris Waller’s methodical search for perfection.”
And he learned well. As his nominator for the SSSA, Reg Fleming said: “Lofty is honest, hard-working and ever-loyal – and come what may, the horse always comes first with him.”
“He was nominated for three categories of the awards and he deserves every one of them.”
Mick Hurry’s racing life began as a five-year-old wandering around Flemington racecourse with his father and has continued for more than half a century since.
It has encompassed everything from stablehand to trackwork rider to barrier attendant to clerk of scales to his current role as training track supervisor at Flemington.
And for much of the time he also worked as an aircraft engineer at Ansett.
Hurry was nominated for the awards by his sister Suzie who has a lifetime knowledge of her brother’s “get in, can-do attitude to everything he does”.
“Michael’s loyalty to the racing industry means a work schedule that doesn’t fit a nine-to-five week,” she says.
“His devotion to all things racing has meant a lot of disruption to his life.”
Along with the various mishaps and accidents that can be a part of working closely with horses, Hurry also endured cancer in 2015 which caused a revision of his duties with the Victoria Racing Club.
In his fortieth year with the VRC and his fiftieth in the business, Hurry remains the supervisor of the Flemington training tracks where he applies his vast knowledge to ensuring the safety of horses, riders and stable staff.