2012: Ross Gigg who was the General Manager at the Newcastle Harness Racing Club for 20 years, will have a feature race and main lounge named in his honour. NEWCASTLE Harness Racing Club has voted unanimously to acknowledge long-serving late chief executive Ross Gigg with the renaming of its feature race and main lounge in his honour.
The group2 Newcastle Mile will now be known as the Ross Gigg Mile, while the ground floor of the grandstand at the Newcastle International Paceway at Broadmeadow will be named the Ross Gigg Lounge.
Gigg served as the head administrator at NHRC for about 22 years before he died on May 8 last year from a heart attack at the age of 58.
The sudden loss of the popular harness racing official and former Penrith first-grade rugby league player was a huge blow to the pacing community.
Chief executive Tony Drew said the NHRC board had considered several options in the past few months to best recognise Gigg’s contribution to the sport before meeting last week.
‘‘It was a unanimous decision that renaming the mile would be the best way to honour and remember Ross,’’ Drew said.
‘‘We hope that, like the Treur Memorial [at Bankstown], the race will honour Ross in perpetuity.’’
The first mile under its new name will be held in 2016.
The Newcastle race is usually held in November and used as a qualifier for the group1 Miracle Mile, but the $750,000 event at Menangle has been pushed back to May 2016.
The Ross Gigg Mile will likely be held in the weeks before the Menangle feature.
Although race dates for next season have not been finalised, the premier Newcastle event is not expected to remain a qualifier for the $750,000 Miracle Mile.
‘‘Hopefully it will continue to remain a lead-up race to the Miracle Mile,’’ Drew said.
The ground floor lounge of the Newcastle grandstand will also carry the Ross Gigg name, which will replace the Westburn Grant Bar. However, Drew said the club would not lose the Westburn Grant name. He said the club’s pavilion room would become the Westburn Grant Function Room.
Gigg was first acknowledged last year when heats of the Rising Stars Series were named in his honour.
He was also the recipient of the Don Clough Appreciation Award for outstanding contribution to the sport at the Harness Racing NSW presentation in October.