Fran Houlahan, Champion jumps trainer and ATA Victorian Branch Committee Member, has been crowned the 2009 Victorian Wakeful Club Lady of Racing.
The daughter of the late Hall of Fame trainer Jim Houlahan, Fran enjoyed an outstanding jumps racing season with six-year-old gelding Pentiffic, by winning the Yalumba Classic Hurdle at Oakbank in April as well as the Dominant Hiskens Steeplechase at Moonee Valley and Crisp and Grand National Steeplechases at Sandown.
These victories saw Pentiffic score a comfortable victory in the J.J.Houlahan Jumps Championship which honours the season’s top performers. He was also awarded with the Victoria Racing Club’s Jumping Achievement of the Year at the 2009 Mosstrooper Fellowship Awards in early September.
Fran was very humble in accepting her award, congratulating her fellow finalists Linda Meech and Rebecca Dynon on their achievements.
“It’s a very hard task for a woman. There are still misconceptions about a woman’s ability in racing and I really do congratulate the two girls on what they have achieved so far,” she said.
“I think every woman who has achieved something in racing makes the job easier for the next woman in racing to come along and it’s important to be supportive of each other in racing and the Wakeful Club is certainly doing that.”
“I love horses, the jumpers are wonderful and there is nothing more breathtaking than seeing a horse in full flight and I am sure that those of you who saw Pentiffic this season would agree.”
She finished by saying; “I would also like to thank the judges for having very good judgment”
President of the Victorian Wakeful Club, Barbara Duff said, “The Lady of Racing Award is the perfect way to recognise the outstanding feats of women in the Victorian racing industry."
“I just thought Fran was such a worthy winner. She has just had such an amazing year which I am sure everyone here today would agree. It also gives a great profile for jumps racing”
The other award recipient was 80-year-old Betty Patterson, stud manager of Bombora Downs, who received a special achievement award as a pioneer of women in thoroughbred racing – a distinguished career spanning 63 years.