Anthony Winnell picked up one of the most prestigious awards in harness racing on Saturday night, being awarded the TAB Kevin Newman Award For Driving Excellence.
The Spring Hill trainer picked up a nomination for his drive on Flinders Lane in Bathurst in October last year – but you ask him what he remembers of the race and you don’t get much back from him.
For him it was just another race, and on Tuesday night in Young Winnell will be racing in just another race.
It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate the award, which was presented by Beryl Newman – wife of the legendary driver Kevin who died last year – at Harness Racing NSW’s night of nights in Sydney.
In fact it’s the opposite – Winnell fell over himself to find every synonym to describe how humbled he was by the nod.
“I was surprised, shocked, humbled and grateful to pick up the award,” he said on Monday.
“I didn’t expect it, that’s for sure.”
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He saw a replay of the race “a few nights ago”, and said it was the first he’d seen or really thought about the race since he completed in 12 months ago.
That drive, in the GC31 3YO Sustaining Payments Close 31 Oct Pace (1730 metres), had Winnell come from the back of the pack just before the final turn before he overtook five riders to finish in first.
He was in Sydney with family and friends to pick up the award – including his father Kel, who’s been training horses in Spring Hill forever and a day and works with Anthony.
“My old man, he doesn’t say much but he did lean over and say ‘congratulations’ which is very big from him considering how little he says,” Winnell said.
“Everyone else’s reactions were about the same as mine, it was pretty stiff competition and all nominated were worthy of winning and I’m surprised and humbled.”
Despite appropriate celebrations that continued into Sunday morning, Winnell is remaining grounded after picking up the award.
“It’s business as usual, nothing much will change with me,” he said.
“I’m probably not going to get nominated again, might not have the chance to win it so I’m very humbled and you can’t let that go to your head.”
Bathurst-based success at the awards night continued with the KS Black & Co NSW Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year award going to the Amanda Turnbull-trained Art Series.
The Bettors Delight filly saved her best performances for her home track, taking out the Group 2 Gold Bracelet after coming up short in the Young Oaks.
Ray Mawhood and John Brien won the HRNSW Don Clough Award while Peter Muller won a Club Volunteer Award.