Highly Blessed has tonight been announced as one of the inaugural 36 inductees in to the Victorian Greyhound Racing Hall Of Fame.
Hall Of Fame Inductee : Highly Blessed (Racing Greyhound)
Highly Blessed had a God-given talent. Perhaps the divinity was a result of her dam (I’m Blessed) being blessed by a Catholic priest in Queensland.
Doug and Lorraine Ferremi had offered I’m Blessed to a nephew who had been blinded in an accident on the proviso she be returned to Victoria for breeding purposes.
Subsequently bred and raced by the Ferremis of Kialla, Highly Blessed was the golden girl of greyhound racing in the early 1990s.
Dubbed the “Shepparton Flash” by industry scribes, Highly Blessed commenced her career on October 1, 1989. She contested 55 races for 38 wins and retired on May 28, 1992 with a then Australian record $294,565 in stakes.
But as a pup, Highly Blessed was somewhat of a loner.
“She didn’t really mix with her littermates… She’d stand by herself at the gate, waiting to be fed,” Doug Ferremi said.
“But when the pups were free galloping she’d jump over the top of them to get to the front… She had her own idiosyncrasies and was different from the other pups.”
The Ferremis realised at breaking-in stage that Highly Blessed was “something special”.
“She was well above average while undergoing her pre-race education,” Ferremi said. “We knew she was going to be top class right from the start.”
And they were to prove prophetic words…
Between November 1990 and March 1991, Highly Blessed put the seal on her greatness winning four major finals – 1990 Melbourne Cup, 1990 XXXX Trophy, 1991 Adelaide Cup and 1991 Golden Easter Egg.
“Those wins were huge thrills… But none was better than the other,” Ferremi said.
“She invariably drew bad boxes in big races… At times I couldn’t believe it, but it didn’t worry her as she was brilliant out of the boxes.”
Highly Blessed also won the inaugural 1990 Gold Collar and 1990 Shepparton Cup, and finished third in the 1990 National Sprint Championship grand final.
On the night the curtain fell on her illustrious career, the Sandown Greyhound Racing Club – on behalf of the World Greyhound Racing Federation – presented the Ferremis with an award for Highly Blessed’s selection in the 1991 All World Greyhound Field.
Highly Blessed had been voted by the WGRF as one of the world’s best eight greyhounds.
She and dual national sprint champion Sandi’s Me Mum at the time were the only two greyhounds outside North America to be selected.
She also won the 1990/91 Racing Animal of the Year, which was presented by the Variety Club.
Highly Blessed was one of Australian greyhound racing’s most marketable products during her heyday – a canine PR machine for the sport.
She was even the subject of a human interest story on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair, which was fantastic exposure on national television.
Highly Blessed provided the Ferremis with some magical moments they will cherish for life.
But the biggest disappointment they experienced was that Highly Blessed could not be considered for the 1990 Victorian Greyhound of the Year (GOTY) award.
Highly Blessed was deemed ineligible for the GOTY as she failed to satisfy a 15 metropolitan races stipulation, having only contested 14 city races during 1990.
Highly Blessed was suffering from deteriorating health and cancer when she died on February 10, 1999 – aged 11 years and three days.
- Winner 1990 Group 1 Melbourne Cup
- Winner 1990 XXXX Trophy
- Winner 1991 Group 1 Adelaide Cup
- Winner 1991 Group 1 Golden Easter Egg
- Winner 1990 Group 2 Shepparton Cup
The 36 Victorian Greyhound Racing Hall of Fame inductees are in three broad categories:
- The Pioneers (8) – recognised by the selection committee as having shaped Greyhound Racing’s early days.
- The People (15) – includes trainers, breeders, owners, administrators and other prominent personalities.
- The Greyhounds (13) – includes achievements on the racetrack and at stud.
The 36 inductees are as follows:
- Noel Banks – Administrator
- Byamee – Coursing Greyhound
- Silvester Doyle – Administrator
- Chris Flint – Administrator
- Ray Herbert – Trainer
- Roy Maidment – Administrator
- John ‘Jack’ McKenna – Administrator
- George Schofield – Administrator
- Bold Trease – Racing Greyhound
- Brett Lee – Racing Greyhound
- Chariot Supreme – Breeding Greyhound
- Cheltenham Lass – Racing Greyhound
- China Trip – Racing Greyhound
- Head Honcho – Breeding Greyhound
- Highly Blessed – Racing Greyhound
- Kantarn Bale – Racing Greyhound
- Lizrene – Racing Greyhound
- Odearo – Racing Greyhound
- Rookie Rebel – Racing Greyhound
- Temlee – Breeding Greyhound
- Wee Sal – Breeding Greyhound
- Graeme Bate – Trainer
- Fred Booth – Studmaster
- Ned Bryant – Trainer
- Ken Carr – Administrator
- William ‘Bill’ Conroy – Administrator
- Rod Deakin – Breeder
- Jim Gannon – Veterinarian
- Henry Harrison – Administrator
- Dave Hodgson – Canine Chiropractor
- Paul Hogan – Breeder/Trainer
- Stan Lake – Administrator
- Harold Matthews – Administrator
- Ron Nestor – Administrator
- Bill Pearson – Media
- Margaret Thomas – Administrator
All future Victorian Hall of Fame inductees will be announced at the annual Victorian Greyhound Industry Awards, with a maximum of four inductees in any given year.