Yarrawonga Chronicle

Ledger epitomises all about award

- BY ROBERT MUIR

The highly respected 66-year-old horse trainer was this year’s Australian Trainers Associatio­n Country Achiever Award on Monday, August 2.

It was to be presented at Flemington in front of 300 people, with 30 tables of 10 from club CEOs, family members and friends but Covid-19 restrictio­ns prevented such an occasion.

Instead, Chief Executive Officer of Andrew Nicholl made the trip from Melbourne to Wangaratta Turf Club to personally present the impressive looking trophy.

“It was an absolute honour to present the award to John. He epitomises everything this award stands for,” he told the Yarrawonga Chronicle last Thursday. “He has the honour of kicking off Saturday’s programme.

“John has been a fixture in the racing industry for over 40 years. He always conducts himself to the highest standard. He’s made a great contributi­on – trained group winners, educated young people, mentored young people, always been a terrific contributo­r to the community.”

The associatio­n CEO of six years said the award is not just about one’s contributi­on to the racing industry but what people give back.

“Even as a young person, John taught people, gave talks and has continued that, talking about mental health. He’s an all-round contributo­r,” Mr Nicholl said.

“This is quite a prestigiou­s award, coined back in 2017. We wanted to recognise the contributi­on of a country trainer beyond just racing. John is the very fabric of racing, the very fabric of the community.”

All four recipients of this award – the others being Gerald Egan in 2017, Quinton Scott 2018 and Austy Coffer 2019 – reflect that wonderful racing and community contributi­ons. Due to Covid, no award was made in 2020.

Ledger was thrilled to receive this award. “In a huge industry to be recognised is just

The 2530m 2021 Country Achiever John Ledger Handicap Race 1 at Flemington last Saturday was run and named after John Ledger for his outstandin­g contributi­on for over 40 years.

fantastic. It’s a big industry a lot of people and to be selected is certainly an honour,” he told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.

Many highlights have been experience­d by the 2021 Country Achiever over those four decades. “They’ve appeared in stages,” John said. “Showjumpin­g and riding for Australia, and wearing the Australian Flag was very special to me and still holds very highly in my memory.

“Brave Chief. Adrian rode his so often for so many wins. We had a wonderful three years with Brave Chief.”

Sixteen Group and Stakes Races winners, over 600 trained winners since obtaining his trainer’s licence in 1986 including such big names as Brave Chief, Blaze the Turf, Love and Run, Lago Lad, Soleil, Secret Toy Bizness and Mind Your Head, being involved early in the training of such massive horses such as Lankan Rupee and Flying Artie, and the

family business establishm­ent at Wangaratta are highlights.

Son Adrian lost his life in 2005 in a race fall at Corowa. The funeral at St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church Yarrawonga was the largest attended funeral for the town, with 2,500 mourners signing the attendance book alone.

“The tragedy of Adrian is the worst thing that can happen in racing. It was a family decision to carry on with our work and that’s the way Adrian would have wanted it,” John said. “We have our Adrian Agistment Park.

“Hundreds of horses are trained here. We have 20 staff and (sons) Brad and Chris working the stables, Travis managing Adrian Park, Brad’s wife Sonja playing an instrument­al part in the bookwork and Adrian’s boy Joshua has been a tremendous help.

“My success can only come from a team effort. Kerri and I have been together since Yarrawonga Primary School days. Kerri is such a staunch support. With the terrible situation with Adrian, she never flinched. Her work behind the scenes all along the journey in managing everything has been exceptiona­l.”

In addition to his wife of 45 years, his family and workers, John singled out other wonderful supporters who have been beside him for over 40 years: Yarrawonga’s Frank and Marjia Vodusek, and Tony Tabor, and Julie Madgwick

from Strathmert­on, as owners of various racehorses and general support; the special working relationsh­ip with Mick Price of Mick Price Racing.

In years gone by, John was a welder at the Mulwala munitions plant where his Dad George was apprentice master. John was playing coach of Mulwala Football Club for three seasons from 1979 to1981.

“He led by example and was a ferocious competitor,” teammate Greg Stephenson said.

“John demanded everything from the players but no more than what he was prepared to give himself. He was a very good player despite a lingering foot injury.”

The man popularly known as ‘Horse’ grew up in the 1960’s establishe­d Ledger horse business in Mulwala and moved to South Road Yarrawonga before today’s wonderful complex in Wangaratta.

But the Ledgers love attending functions and friends in Yarrawonga and Mulwala and are always fondly remembered.

The generosity of the Ledgers was re-inforced by the racing associatio­n CEO who mentioned all the Ledger family members and their roles. “After the presentati­on on Monday, John and Kerri insisted I go to their place for a bowl of soup and cup of coffee,” Andrew said.

“John loves his family. It’s a wonderful set up at his property. It’s a family affair.”

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 ??  ?? Country Achiever Award 2021 winner John Ledger being presented with the award from Australia Trainers Associatio­n CEO Andrew Nicholl on the Wangaratta Turf Club racetrack. Photograph courtesy of Wangaratta Chronicle.
Country Achiever Award 2021 winner John Ledger being presented with the award from Australia Trainers Associatio­n CEO Andrew Nicholl on the Wangaratta Turf Club racetrack. Photograph courtesy of Wangaratta Chronicle.
 ??  ?? Former Mulwala and Yarrawonga residents, John and Kerri Ledger with Australian Trainers Associatio­n 2021 Country Achiever Award. Photograph courtesy of Wangaratta Chronicle.
Former Mulwala and Yarrawonga residents, John and Kerri Ledger with Australian Trainers Associatio­n 2021 Country Achiever Award. Photograph courtesy of Wangaratta Chronicle.
 ??  ?? In the 1990s, at the Yarrawonga Show, on board Nobby, John Ledger clears a big jump.
In the 1990s, at the Yarrawonga Show, on board Nobby, John Ledger clears a big jump.
 ??  ?? Adrian Ledger on board Brave Chief.
Adrian Ledger on board Brave Chief.
 ??  ?? A snapshot from years gone by of John Ledger.
A snapshot from years gone by of John Ledger.

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