By Andrew Adermann
Racing royalty swept by Pioneer Park at the weekend with Peter Moody and Pam O’Neill in Emerald for the On the Bit Queensland Country Racing Awards.
Moody, of Black Caviar fame, is a country Queensland boy at heart, born in Charleville and learning his trade in the outback before making the move to Brisbane.
After taking a break from training in 2016, he recently announced that he would make a return to the Victorian ranks, but maintains a strong passion for Queensland’s country racing.
“It was terrific for me to be involved, my heart lies in regional and rural racing Australia-wide and being a Queensland country boy, I was very grateful,” Moody said.
“It’s important that we celebrate our country people, in all facets of life but obviously for our racing community.
“I’m really proud of where I started, where I’ve come from and ultimately, I’m still the boy from Charleville with a bit of larrikin in me.”
He was joined in Central Queensland by O’Neill, an iconic figure in Queensland racing, being the first female to be granted a jockey licence in 1979 after more than a decade of lobbying.
She went on to ride more than 400 winners in her career, and was recently honoured with a race named in her honour to be run on Doomben Cup Day.
O’Neill probably wasn’t expecting to see too many familiar faces nine hours north of home, however, Pioneer Park’s clerk of the course, Lindy Kehl, fondly recalls her days going head to head with the female trailblazer in Rockhampton 42 years ago.
“I’m not sure she remembered me from all those years ago but it was fantastic to see her again and talk about the time we rode against each other all those years ago,” Kehl said.
“I was only 16 at the time, and she was an idol to me growing up because of what she did for females in the industry.
“Having Peter (Moody) there too, he’s someone I have seen on the TV for many years, and he is the most down-to-earth guy given all of his success.”
Kehl was glowing in her praise for the day’s meet, having only come on board as a clerk after long-time friend and trainer Glenda Bell reached out to her last year.
“I’ve been the course clerk for a few months, and that was my first meeting so it was awesome to see it all come together to be a successful day,” she said.
“It was a fantastic day of racing on the whole, and everyone was really respectful which helped make it a great atmosphere for all attendees.”