As the fabled story goes, 1977 was the time when a horse won the Maitland Sportsperson of the Year award.
However, record breaker Rip Van Winkle merely helped owner-trainer Michael Vanderkemp claim the coveted prize.
Rip Van Winkle, aged four, was the youngest recipient of the NSW Harness Racing horse of the year award in a season that yielded 18 wins from 22 starts.
This included an Australasian record in taking out the RC Simpson Sprint at Harold Park and a track record 11th successive win to clinch the Spring Cup.
His career earnings also went past the $100,000 mark with victory in the Queensland Pacers Derby qualifiers while reaching an overall record of 26 wins from 33 starts.
“In other sports you can condition yourself, get yourself to your peak and then go out and give your best,” Vanderkemp told the Mercury.
“In trotting you get the horse ready for his best performance and then it’s completely up to him. If he doesn’t want to run he doesn’t.”
Australian soccer coach Jim Shoulder presented the trophy.
This winner of this year’s trophy will be announced a special presentation dinner on Friday, March 7, at the Maitland Town Hall.
A 50th anniversary sports awards magazine will also be published in the Mercury on March 7.
Details on how to book a table or seats for the evening are on page 21.
Don’t miss tomorrow’s Mercury to see which teams have been nominated for the 2013 Maitland Sportsperson of the Year awards