THE navy was in town. So was Prince Harry. And pop stars One Direction and Rhihanna. There were also preparations for the rugby league grand final going on.
But despite these small distractions the cream of New South Wales country and provincial racing gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel at Circular Quay last Friday night to celebrate all that is great in their industry at their annual awards ceremony.
The Daily Examiner was a finalist in the media category so was lucky enough to score a couple of seats in the room that boasted more than 300 of NSW racing's faithful including chairman of the Clarence River Jockey Club Graeme Green and his wife June and Racing NSW Country chairman Bob Pavitt and his wife Cheryl.
Other familiar faces were former Grafton racing identity Shane Meaney and his wife Cathy who are now based in Randwick, and well known metropolitan and Daily Examiner racing writer Tony White and his partner Lesley Love.
The major gong secured by the Clarence Valley racing industry on the evening was courtesy of former Grafton jockey Cassandra Schmidt who took out the Leading Country Apprentice Jockey award.
Cassandra is well known here in the Clarence as one half of the sister act which includes her older sibling Priscilla. (We will have more on Cassandra's big win this week).
Unfortunately the Examiner was pipped at the post in the media section by former sports editor and central west racing identity Barry Hildebrandt. Other big winners on the evening were Muswellbrook Race Club which took out Country TAB Race Club of the Year and Greg Ryan who took out Country Jockey of the Year.
Ryan clocked up 3000 wins earlier this year, only the third Australian jockey in history to do so.