DARREN Weir has added the crowning glory to an already record-breaking season by claiming Racing Victoria’s Fred Hoysted Medal.
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The coveted award goes to the trainer who in the view of a judging panel produces the most outstanding performance of the season on Victorian racecourses
Just as he did on the track in creating Australian record for wins in a season, Weir dominated.
He polled 180 votes for taking Prince of Penzance to victory in the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
Chris Waller was his nearest rival with 96 votes for Winx’s course-record breaking win in the WS Cox Plate.
The award, announced on Thursday night, adds to an array of accolades for Weir in 2015-16, including the Victorian statewide, metropolitan and country premierships to complement his national achievement.
Weir collected the state and metropolitan awards for the second year-in-a-row.
While Weir is fast joining the ranks of the greats in Australian racing in his own right, his the spread of influence was also on show at the gala night.
Stable jockey John Allen, who is originally from Ireland, marked a break-out season over the jumps with his first Tommy Corrigan Medal.
Allen, who also rode his first group 1 winner last season on the Weir-trained Hallowed Be Thy Name in the SA Derby, received 15 votes to beat eight-time Corrigan Medallist Steve Pateman.
Two former Weir stable foremen were also among the winners.
Warrnambool-based Daniel Bowman and Mitchell Freedman shared the inaugural Colin Alderson Rising Star Award for trainers 40 years or younger and with no more than seven racing seasons of experience.
Ballarat’s Archie Alexander finished third.
MEANWHILE, Michelle Payne says it will be hard to watch someone else ride Prince Of Penzance in the group 1 Memsie Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday, but admits she is not at full fitness.
AAP reports that Payne is getting close to a return, but whether that is as a full-time jockey or as the rider of horses she trains herself is still playing on her mind.
She had hopes to find out on Thursday whether she has been granted a trainer's licence.
Payne has been back riding trackwork for about eight weeks since recovering from pancreatic surgery suffered in a fall at Mildura in May.
"I will come back to riding, but whether that's to ride my own horses or come back full-time I haven't decided yet," Payne told radio station RSN927.
"I've got two unraced four-year-olds. They're nothing flash, but at least they're giving me something to muck around with. I'm really keen to give it a good go and I think it would be awesome to train your own and then ride them in races."
Payne has been riding horses in trackwork for Darren Weir, including Prince Of Penzance, and says her fitness is improving by the day.
"I rode one for Darren (Weir) on Tuesday that went quite well and asked him if I could ride that and he was thinking about it a tiny bit," Payne said.
"But I just struggled to get through the morning, which might have put him off a little bit."
Payne says she's hopeful rather than confident she will be reunited with Prince Of Penzance in the Melbourne Cup.
She realised she was rushing her attempt to get back to ride the stayer, but says Prince Of Penzance is thriving and she is hoping he runs well for the owners.
"If I'm riding and riding in good form maybe they'll be happy to put me back on.
"I'm really happy to see Harry on him on Saturday. Harry's always there doing trials and I'd be absolutely rapt if he ran well for Harry," she said.
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