The BILL WHITTAKER BOOK AWARD winner for 2020 was announced in June 2020, by Mr Bob Charley OA.
The award is given biennially for the best new book relating to Australian horse racing.
There was a total of 33 books published on horse racing in Australia/New Zealand in the two years of 2018 and 2019 and the criteria for choosing the winner are that it must:
Add to the knowledge of Australian racing history.
Be well written.
Be well produced.
The author: John Payne lives in Orange NSW and is a prolific researcher of horse racing. He has spent the last six or seven years completing the task of writing this book and is well known in all the racing history locations around the country. The libraries at the Australian Racing Museum at Flemington and the ATC Heritage Centre at Randwick know him well and so do the state libraries and registries of births, deaths and marriage around Australia.
The book was inspired by his feeling the need to honour the men and women who have given their lives to the profession of riding racehorses. Racing provides many Australians with their entertainment and enjoyment.
The Fallen Jockeys monuments/memorials at Caulfield Victoria, Randwick NSW, Morphettville SA and Condobolin NSW have all helped John to complete his work on the book that is so dear to his heart.
The book: Their Last Ride is a monumental book of 630 pages and tells the story of each and every jockey that has lost their life riding in a race, riding in barrier trials or riding trackwork in Australia. There are 938 jockeys recorded in this book, covering the period 1847 to 2017, and at least a line or two is devoted to every one of them, while most have extensively more. The book has brilliant ease of reference by having three indexes by - chronological or alphabetical or geographical order, and thus has been well received by local libraries and historical societies around Australia and as far away as the USA, for family researching.
Bill Whittaker: Bill Whittaker (1929 – 2009) was one of Australia’s most prominent racing journalists/writers from the 1950s through to his death in 2009. He began his working life writing about harness racing on the long gone racing paper The Newsletter and later The Daily Telegraph as its “trotting” writer. Later, in 1959, he moved to the Sydney Morning Herald and wrote of both harness and galloping racing. Eventually his work transitioned totally to the gallopers and in his long career he wrote about all the great racehorses of his time.
Bill was also a racing historian and loved writing about the historic racing days of old. The champions Bernborough, Tulloch and Kingston Town were from his time and he rated Tulloch the best of them all. He made himself an expert on Phar Lap and his observations and musings about the champion were renowned.
Bill was a friendly and helpful man and generous of his time to any young writer or racing enthusiast who approached him.
Previous winners of the Bill Whittaker Book Award are:
2010 - Keith Paterson for The Master's Touch.
2012 - Jessica Owers for Peter Pan.
2014 - John Adams for Over the Hurdles - joint winner with
- Jessica Owers for Shannon.
2016 - Bob Charley for Heroes & Champions
2018 - Ken Linnett for Tulloch.