Tonight atsees the 23rd running of the harness racing John Higgins Memorial.
The race recognises former WA Trotting Association President John Higgins who tragically died in a motor vehicle accident in 1994 and was posthumously acknowledged with a James Brennan Award for his service to harness racing.
A Narrogin-based lawyer John Higgins had served as President of the WA Country Trotting Association for ten years before becoming President of the WATA in 1991
Equally at ease talking with the State’s leaders or his mates at the Narrogin Trotting Club John Higgins was at all times a passionate advocate for trotting.
The supporting races at tonight’s meeting recognise a number of trainers, drivers and administrators who also made significant contributions to harness racing at Gloucester Park. Members of their families will be guests of Gloucester Park at tonight’s meeting.
Les Poyser drove 757 winners with 512 of them in Perth including the 1980 WA Pacing Cup with Pure Steel and three WA Derbies in a five year period with Swahili, Satanas and Volutis. He also trained 639 winners including Little William which dead-heated with Virgil Queen in the 1977 Members Sprint. Les Poyser died in 2015.
Fred Hough drove 512 winners between 1947 and 1990 including the 1955 WA Pacing Cup with Hall Of Fame inductee Frosty Nelson. Fred Hough drove Step Lad when that horse dead-heated with Attaboy in the first ever photo-finish dead-heat at Gloucester Park. Fred Hough died in 2016 at age of 86.
Ray Sweetman drove 491 winners with 283 of them in Perth including a win in the 1979 WA Derby with Special Garry. He also educated and trained Australia’s first 1:55 pacer Classic Garry and won an Easter Cup with Binshaw before switching to thoroughbreds where he trained 127 winners. Ray Sweetman died in June 2017.
Les Marriott drove 454 winners with 216 of them in Perth including a win in the 1971 WA Pacing Cup with Pyramus who remains the last mare to win the WA Cup. Les also trained and drove another champion mare in Virgil Queen which dead-heated with Little William in the 1977 Members Sprint. Les Marriott died in 2015.
A member of the WA Racing Industry Hall of Fame, Max Johnson won four Perth Drivers Premierships. His 1952 title as 21yo gives him the record as the youngest driver to win the title. There was a 59 year span between his first and last wins as a driver. Max Johnson died in 2015 at age of 84.
Bob Pollock drove 853 winners with 484 of them in Perth with a span of 58 years between his first and last winners. Those wins included the 1953 Inter Dominion Grand Final with Captain Sandy. His first win came as a 17yo driving the 15yo gelding Tommy Dillon. Bob Pollock died in 2012.
Ron Percival commenced working for the WA Trotting Association in 1914 as a 15yo office boy. He became the Association’s Secretary in 1935 and was in that role for the first Inter Dominion Championship in 1936 and subsequent Inter Dominions in 1940, 1947 and 1953. Ron Percival died in 1957.
Roy Annear was a breeder and owner and a former Vice-President of the WA Trotting Association and he, in partnership with his wife Diane, owned more than 700 winners including 100 in the 1979/80 season. It was Roy Annear’s idea to run the highly successful New Year’s Eve race-meetings at Gloucester Park. Roy Annear died in May 2017.
Jack Simmons drove some 236 winners with 173 of them in Perth between 1917 and 1950 including the 1923 WA Derby with Miss Chicago. He trained and drove the champion mare Lady Childewood when she finished fourth to Logan Derby in the first Inter Dominion final in Perth in 1936.
It is intended to run races in memory of past champion trainers, drivers and administrator’s each year on the night of the Higgins Memorial with the names being used on a rotational basis.