Two of the finest trainers Kembla Grange has ever seen are among the first inductees of the Illawarra Turf Club's Legends' program.
The "Queen of Kembla", Gwenda Markwell reigned supreme at Kembla Grange, winning 18 Champion Trainer premierships at the track and dominating the leading local trainer title for 20 straight seasons.
Markwell, who passed away in October 2022, chalked up 1037 winners with her biggest triumphs being in the 2004 Group 1-BMW with Grand Zulu and the 2019 ATC Australian Derby with Angel of Truth.
Bede Murray started his 53-year horse racing career in 1962. From a total of 7999 starters, Murray trained 913 winners, including 259 at Kembla Grange and a series of Black Type races.
Passing away in March 2016, his legacy remains alive through his sons, Paul and Graeme, who are both successful trainers in their own right.
Julie Humphries and Cliff Clare are ITC"s two other inaugural Legends.
Humphries recently retired after 28 years of voluntary service as the hostess of ITC's winning owners room.
During this time it is estimated she looked after the winning connections of more than 7000 races. Prior to this Humphries filled the role of club secretary, commencing with the Wollongong Racing and Trotting Club in 1968.
Clare was one of the leading riders at Kembla Grange when Illawarra Turf Club was formed in late 1976.
Now a spritely 93, Clare is best known as the rider of 1967 Golden Slipper winner, Sweet Embrace. He also rode a multitude of winners at Kembla Grange and retired from race riding in May 1992, less than two years after one of his best mates, fellow jockey Norm Munsie.
Illawarra Turf Club CEO Steve Keene said the Legends' program has been developed to recognise individuals, not employed by Illawarra Turf Club, for their positive contribution to thoroughbred racing in the Illawarra, it's growth and success, promotion and prestige.
"This program is something the club has been working on before I got there," he said.
"It is exciting to recognise those that have had a large input at the club over a long period of time."
A permanent tribute is being planned for display at the racecourse.
"We are extremely proud of the quality of thoroughbred racing in the region and the role of the Illawarra Turf Club in this success," Illawarra Turf Club chairman Barry Vandenbergh said.
"Our history of racing would not be possible without great people. We wish to honour these Legends, a group of industry participants who are deserving of this prestigious acknowledgement."
A celebratory lunch for these inductees will be held at Kembla Grange Racecourse this Saturday (21st October). Luncheon tickets are available via - Moshtix.com.au
"We will honour those people on Saturday and continue to do so into the future," Keene added.
"Inducting more Legends is something that the board will look at on a year to year basis.
"It doesn't mean someone will be inducted every year, but if we feel there's someone worthy and is sort of put forward by the directors or to the directors then it's something that the board will discuss and decide at the time."
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