A PERMANENT display of harness racing history at Lord's Raceway will be given greater prominence as part of a newly constituted Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame (VHRHoF).
In a major coup and honour for the Bendigo Harness Racing Club (BHRC) and its historian Noel Ridge, the Bendigo Harness Racing Heritage Collection will form the backbone of an expanded hall of fame.
It follows the formation of a unified industry hall of fame body, established nine years ago by the Victorian Harness Racing Media Association (VHRMA) and run until recently by that organisation.
Ridge, who is one of two Bendigo region industry identities to be appointed to the inaugural VHRHoF selection committee alongside legendary Heathcote trainer-driver and Gordon Rothacker medallist Jim O'Sullivan, said the new body would build on the impressive work undertaken by the media association.
"It was felt that combining the industry bodies together under the umbrella of a united organisation would be beneficial," he said.
"There are now opportunities for people to nominate horses, trainers, drivers and associates as worthy of induction in the hall of fame.
"In addition, we have a 'fan favourite' section for the first time, where people can go online and suggest their favourite, which will be taken into consideration.
"As in past years, a member of the hall of fame will be inducted as a legend, which we have seven or eight of."
Ridge, who operates the Bendigo Harness Racing Heritage Collection, situated underneath the Lord's Raceway grandstand, said it was a coup for the hall of fame to be based in Bendigo.
"Our collection will basically become the Victorian Harness Racing of Fame collection, which we are very proud about," he said.
"Central Victoria is already well represented in the hall of fame, with (Inter Dominion winner) Gentleman John inducted a few years ago, Jack Moore from Maryborough as a trainer, Brian Gath, and Alf Symons was a Bendigonian later on his life.
"The opportunity is certainly there for people, who may have been missed at this point to be nominated. You never know what this year, or the years ahead will bring."
The next inductions will be announced at an awards ceremony at the BHRC's November 8 meeting, which coincides with the popular veteran drivers' race night.
Joining Ridge and O'Sullivan on the panel are industry stalwart Judy Rothacker, Victorian Harness Racing Media Association president Len Baker, respected steward Barry Delaney, media identity Adam Hamilton, race-caller Dan Mielicki, veteran trainer-driver and passionate industry man Ginger Gleeson, and Harness Racing Victoria chairman Dale Monteith, who will act as chairperson.
BHRC committee member Paul Campbell described the announcement as an important moment in the sport, especially for the local club.
"History is made every day, but we must maintain that history so we can go forward," he said.
"The growth this could generate for the harness racing club here and the flow-on effect that could have for the community is untold.
"It might not get a lot bigger, but to my imagination this will get monstrously bigger."
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