The J. P. Stratton Award is the highest recognition afforded by Harness Racing Australia (HRA).
The Award is named after the distinguished Western Australian administrator,
(Mr John Peter Stratton) owner, breeder and studmaster is awarded to recipients for …significant achievement, leadership, distinction, eminence, repute, renown, foresight, initiative, innovation and creativity on an international or national basis, over a significant period of time.
Therefore it was with great pleasure that HRA Chairman, Mr Geoff Want, presented this esteemed award to Mr Ross Cooper at the RWWA Harness Racing Awards, Royal Freshwater Yacht Club, Perth on Sunday, 19 October 2014.
"I have always believed it is extremely important that we pay tribute to the people who contribute so much to our industry, regardless of whether they are involved as a driver, trainer, owner, breeder, administrator, or in some other capacity", Mr Want said.
"I am therefore grateful for the opportunity this afternoon to do just that - to recognise someone who has been quite outstanding in the work he has done for harness racing".
Ross Cooper grew up with horses - his father, Mick, was a trainer-driver - and harness racing has been a life-long passion, something he has also passed on to his children, Chelsey and Trent.
He forged a highly successful career as a bookmaker - some say he was the biggest trots bookie in Australia for several years - and was well regarded by all he encountered on racetracks in WA and interstate, from battlers to billionaires.
After 25 years as a bookmaker, Ross retired in 2001 and took up a position with the WA TAB. In 2003, he was appointed as the harness racing director on the inaugural Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) Board, where he served with distinction until retiring in July this year.
He is held in such high regard that he was never challenged in any election for that position on the RWWA board.
Ross was an active participant at Harness Racing Australia meetings throughout his tenure, but more so when he joined the Executive when it was expanded to include all States in 2009.
He immediately assumed the position of Treasurer and has performed a number of other critical roles during this time, including Chairing both the Constitution and Handicapping Reviews in 2009, as well as the recent Wagering Working Party, and being an Australian representative on the Inter Dominion Event Committee.
He has also been a strong supporter of international industry relations, having attended four World Trotting Conferences and Chairing the Animal Welfare Committee at three of these.
"It is difficult to quantify the value of someone like Ross, but he has made an enormous contribution to our work at HRA in recent years", Mr Want added.
"His experience, his considered assessment of issues and his abundant common sense have been greatly valued by myself and all who have worked with him".
Ross has made a great contribution to harness racing over several decades, always supported by his effervescent wife, Landra.
RWWA nominated him for this award, which was unanimously endorsed by the HRA Executive.