Never let it be said Australian racing authorities rush into anything. Belatedly, however, they have embraced the Hall of Fame concept, which has long been part of the culture in many other sports.
Fittingly, the first inductee was the much revered Phar Lap, the big red horse who spread his fame across the Pacific when he won the Agua Caliente in Tijuana shortly before his premature death outside San Francisco in April, 1932.
Carbine, another famous New Zealand-bred champion adopted by Australians was next. A winner of 33 races from 43 races, Carbine carried 145 pounds to win the 1890 Melbourne Cup in record time.
Wartime hero Bernborough was another original Hall of Famer. His trademark finishing burst carried him to 15 straight victories in the 1940s, shortly before an injury ended his career on the track. He was later purchased for stud by Louis B Mayer.
The other pair were the Tommy Smith trained champions Tulloch and Kingston Town. Smith, the winner of 34 Sydney-training premierships, was one of five trainers selected by the panel. It also included his contemporaries Colin Hayes and 11-time Melbourne Cup winning trainer Bart Cummings. Following the deaths of Smith and Hayes in 1998 and 1999, Cummings is the only trainer to accept his award.
At age 87, Scobie Breasley was also present to receive his plaque as the first jockey accepted.
AUSTRALIA HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
HORSES: Phar Lap, Carbine, Tulloch, Bernborough, and Kingston Town
TRAINERS: Bart Cummings, Colin Hayes, Tommy Smith, Jack Holt, and Jim Scobie
JOCKEYS: Scobie Breasley, Tom Hales, Roy Higgins, George Moore, and Darby Munro
ASSOCIATE: Bill Collins (racecaller), Adrian Knox and Chester Manifold (administrators at AJC and VRC), Banjo Patterson (19th century poet, writer, and journalist), and the Thompson family (several generations of breeders at Widden Stud)