Family of Travis Harrison reflect as Moonee Valley Racing Club again honour the fallen apprentice
While modern day racing is a hustle and bustle seven-day business, tomorrow’s Travis Harrison Cup (1600m) at Moonee Valley will be a stand-alone moment in time for the Harrison family.
The Harrison name is synonymous with the sport, particularly in the Cranbourne area.
Despite all of their successes, having a race run annually in memory of Travis, a rising apprentice jockey who was tragically killed in a car accident in 1996, is an honour they hold very dear.
Travis’ life was cut short at just 18-years-of age and while he will always live on in his family’s memory they are very appreciative that racing hasn’t forgotten him either.
“We appreciate this very much. It’s the 16th year Moonee Valley have run this race and the family is very honoured that it still continues to be run today,” said Travis’ father Kevin who is a past president of the Victoria Jockey’s Association and the Victoria Trainers Association.
Any sad feelings that may revisit them are comforted by the consistent acknowledgement of the Moonee Valley Racing Club and the Cranbourne Turf Club in remembering the popular apprentice.
Travis rode 88 winners in his career and, fittingly, Moonee Valley was the scene of his most significant win aboard Suma Peace in the Group 2 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (now Sunline Stakes) in 1996.
“What is even more special is that it was a Moonee Valley meeting that Travis last rode at before his accident the next morning,” Kevin recalled.
Travis’ uncle, trainer Doug Harrison, was successful in this race with Another Neptune in 2000 and amongst other family connections his cousin Craig Williams – who was ten months younger than Travis – has attributed Travis’ tragedy as motivating his determination to succeed as a jockey.
Kevin hasn’t worked in racing since 2001 and now lives in Adelaide and while he won’t be at Moonee Valley tomorrow, he aims to return for his son’s race next year.
The Travis Harrison Cup is for apprentice riders only, with the likes of Chad Schofield, Kayla Nisbet and Patrick Moloney riding tomorrow, but Kevin has another idea for the future.
“It’d be nice one day to run the race for the senior riders who were apprentices in Travis’ time – maybe a one off event,” Kevin suggests.
Despite the obvious sadness, Kevin is heartened that the apprentices who are successful in this race say that winning it is high on their agenda.
As for how Travis would think about to such acknowledgment, Kevin has no doubt how he would react.
“I’m sure if I could ever get in touch with him he’d be very pleased.”
The full fields, form and draw for tomorrow’s $80,000 Dominant Travis Harrison Apprentice Cup (1600m), the fourth event on the eight-race Moonee Valley card at 1.45pm, are available here.
By Danny Matthews