USA: The National Turf Writers and Broadcasters will present Martine Bellocq with the Bill Mooney Award for displaying courage in the face of tremendous adversity, after she rushed into a burning barn trying to save her horses in a wildfire that decimated much of the San Luis Rey Downs training centre last December.

Martine Bellocq, a lifelong horsewoman, suffered severe burns over 60 percent of her body and endured the amputation of her lower leg, multiple skin-grafting surgeries and dialysis throughout 2018. She joins two prior Mooney winners – the award’s namesake who died after a long battle with cancer in 2017 and retired jockey and owner Rene Douglas.

Bellocq will be honoured with the NTWAB’s other four award winners at the organisation’s 59th annual Awards Dinner at Whiskey Dry in Louisville Wednesday 31st October. The NTWAB will honour Mike Smith (Mr. Fitz Award), Donna Barton Brothers (Jim McKay Award), Jim Gluckson (Joe Palmer Award) and Marty McGee (Walter Haight Award), along with other writing award winners announced that evening.

One of the first female exercise riders in her native France before moving to the US, Bellocq and her husband Pierre met in 1974 and have worked together for decades. More recently they maintained a small string of horses in training under Martine’s name.

According to the San Diego Tribune, Martine Bellocq braved the flames multiple times, running in and out and dousing herself with water as she tried to coax favourite trainee Wild Bill Hickory from his stall. Although she was unable to save Wild Bill Hickory, it’s thought one of the couple’s then-two-year-olds survived the blaze because of her efforts.

Bellocq was honoured with the Laffit Pincay Jr. Award at Del Mar earlier this year, as well as the Spirit of Courage Award from San Diego’s Burn Institute.

The NTWAB Awards Dinner is traditionally held during Breeders’ Cup Week and is the organisation’s only fundraiser. A portion of the proceeds from the event are used toward scholarships for prospective Thoroughbred racing journalists and to support Thoroughbred industry charities.

Tickets are available for the event either by contacting Loren Hebel-Osborne at [email protected] or through this link.

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