John Messara receives the 2019 Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit

Australia’s John Messara received the 2019 Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit, which recognises distinguished horsemen and horsewomen for lifelong contributions to Thoroughbred racing, during a ceremony Thursday, in advance of the Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) this Saturday in Sydney. 

As the Official Partner and Official Watch of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), the Swiss watchmaker Longines was proud to present the 2019 Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit to industry leader John Messara, who is the first Australian to receive the award. 

“I’m very grateful to receive the Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit because it is presented by my international peers, and much of my work over the past four decades has focussed on elevating Australian racing and breeding and communicating our success around the world,” said Messara. 

“I acknowledge especially the unflinching support of my wife, Kris, and our four children; all of my team, past & present, at Arrowfield; the Boards & Executives of Racing New South Wales and Racing Australia; and two excellent Ministers for Racing, the Honourable George Souris AM and the Honourable Troy Grant.

“I’ve also been blessed by an incomparable dynasty of champion stallions that has shaped my career and the entire Australian thoroughbred industry over the past 30 years. Danehill, Redoute’s Choice and now Snitzel – thank you.”

Previous winners of the International Award of Merit include the Magnier family and trainer Aidan O’Brien, the driving forces behind Coolmore and the Ballydoyle Racing Stable in Ireland; Yutaka Take, legendary Japanese jockey; the Romanet family, long renowned leaders in both the French and international world of horseracing; Jim Bolger, leading Irish trainer, owner and breeder; Alec Head, past champion trainer and patriarch of prominent stud farm Haras du Quesnay; Seth Hancock of historic Claiborne Farm in America; and the late Marcel Zarour Atanacio, former chairman of the South American organization for the promotion of Thoroughbreds (OSAF).

The International Award of Merit was created in 2013 by Longines and the IFHA in order to honour public figures for their outstanding contribution to the world of horse racing. As Official Partner and Official Watch of the IFHA, Longines additionally awards several other prizes in recognition of excellence in this discipline in collaboration with the IFHA. The winners are honoured throughout the year in ceremonies attended by representatives from across the entire profession.

“It is a great honour and pleasure to recognise tonight Mr. John Messara’s dedication to Thoroughbred racing, a sport dear to the brand,” said Walter von Känel, president of Longines. 

“Indeed, for one century and a half, our love for the equestrian world has steadily increased, and today we have become the main partner of international institutions and events in the disciplines of horse racing, but also show jumping, eventing, endurance, dressage and driving. More than that, our commitment to equestrian sports is based on common shared values: Tradition, Elegance and Performance. It perfectly embodies our long-time partnership with the IFHA, of which Longines is the proud Official Partner and Official watch.”

Representatives from both Longines and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities were in Australia to celebrate Messara’s achievements. 

“I have the utmost respect for John Messara, and it is an honour for me to be in Sydney for the presentation of the seventh Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit,” said Louis Romanet, chairman of the IFHA. 

“The recipients of the first six awards confirm the dynamic global nature of 21st century breeding and racing. He is a very deserving recipient of the prestigious 2019 Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit.”

Amelia Michael (Longines Brand Manager of Australia), John Messara (2019 Recipient of the Longines & IFHA International Award of Merit), Louis Romanet (IFHA Chairman), Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges (IFHA Vice-Chairmen, Asia), picture ©Longines