Jack Kelso RHKJC Steward

Jack Kelso RHKJC Steward

Scone has a close historical link with the ‘colonial era’ Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club (RHKJC) now known as the vastly successful Hong Kong Jockey Club.


Jack Kelso became Stipendiary Steward for Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club in 1958 living in Repulse Bay for 6 years. In 1962 Mr J. Kelso was appointed Clerk of the Course of the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club and also a Stipendiary Steward.

The Chairman commented; “We must all regret that the Club did not do this before. Mr J. Kelso is an Australian with a good record as a successful trainer in New South Wales”. Jack Kelso was also handicapper and Clerk of Course until 1967.

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Bypass Prognosis

Bypass Prognosis

The Scone Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. issued a very positive report of its visit to Bulahdelah on Tuesday 14th August 2018:

See: Scone Chamber of Commerce <info=sconechamber.com.au@mail129.suw14.mcdlv.net

‘Focus on what we have now as an advantage’

Key outcomes from Bulahdelah Bypass meeting at Bulahdelah Tuesday 14th August 2018

A delegation from the Scone Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Upper Hunter Shire

Council travelled to Bulahdelah to meet with group of business people to discuss their experience with preparing for pre and post ByPass installation. Included in the delegation were Anne Frame representing the Revitalization Committee, Steve Guihot and Garry Gilkeson representing the Scone Chamber of Commerce and Allan Fletcher representing the Upper Hunter Shire Council.

Key points to come out of the extensive conversation were as follows.

  1. There was some generational change to the makeup of the business community as some older members decided to step down and were replaced by younger business owners.
  2. The Bulahdelah bypass has now been operational for 6 years and the town is doing very well. For the first 2 months or so after the Bypass opened there was a dramatic decrease in visitation to the town as people tried the bypass. But then visitation figures increased by 10% and subsequently the figures have increased by 3% per year since.
  3. One point made very strongly by the local businesses was that there needs to be a “WOW” factor on the approaches to the town and that the town entrances are very important. They also felt that these entrances need to be upgraded and in place well before the By Pass is functional. They made the point also that the main street needs to be refreshed (at least) before the By Pass is open to give visitor to the town the best possible view and impression of the town.
  4. Focus on and build on what we have now as advantages. Don’t be seduced by developers coming in to tell us what they might do.
  5. Tourism strategies need to work “hand in hand” with the Chamber of Commerce and there needs to be a co-ordinated approach with the Chamber, the Council and Community Groups to work together. There is a limited “window of opportunity” and it will rapidly close as the Bypass reaches completion.
  6. In Bulahdelah the results have been very positive. The town wealth has increased, the town amenities have increased, and the town liveability has increased as well. New businesses like “Oliver’s” have opened and are doing very well. The locals have also made an effort to improve camping/caravan areas and they are finding that the tourists are coming to town and rather than continuing on North are spending two or three says using the town as a base while they explore the highlights of the area.
  7. They also said; ”don’t forget the youth and children in your considerations”..( bike paths, walking paths, skate parks, things to keep them occupied)

All in all this was very successful project to gain further information, not to have to re-invent the wheel, and we were very grateful to the folks in Bulahdelah for their time and input to the discussions.

Notes generated and circulated by Scone Chamber of Commerce and Industry August 2018


Trained scientists like objective measurement. Definitive decisions are based on established (measured) facts. A ‘tentative prognosis’ is based on the accrued data. This document serves the purpose admirably where a group of highly credentialed economic/statistical researchers have produced an estimable evaluation of data pertaining to the impact of town bypasses in known and tested situations. Admittedly Gunning, Goulburn and Yass are far removed from the Upper Hunter Valley and the New England Highway. However some of the overarching principles pertain. Perhaps a better analogy could be found comparing Scone to Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale and Berrima? The study has yet to be commissioned. Nonetheless there are lessons to be learned. Closer to home we might also compare Bulahdelah; and even Karuah? Berry is on the South Coast but already the early signs of ‘bypass renaissance’ are evident. The prognosis is good; not even guarded.

ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF TOWN BYPASSES  Final Report       OCTOBER 2012 RMS       12.365 ISBN      978-1-922041-45-6

See: http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/projects/town-bypasses-economic-evaluation.pdf

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Brown, John (1850–1930)

Brown, John (1850–1930)

By J. W. Turner

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979 which I duly acknowledge:


Featured Image: John Brown Cartoon reproduced with kind permission and grateful acknowledgement Newcastle Regional Public Library Collection

I admit this was both stimulated and promulgated by Ian Ibbett’s excellent story:

See also: http://kingsoftheturf.com/1909-the-rebarbative-john-brown-and-prince-foote/

However there’s a lot of local ‘gossip’ still about the Browns; and also Alan Cooper. I think this was what attracted the rapt attention of Graham Harper at the Scone Men’s Shed? It also brings back into sharp focus the long history of the original Segenhoe Stud in the eponymous valley near Scone. Potter Macqueen really started something in 1824 which endures even today. Gerry Harvey and his cohort partners are the current custodians under the banner of Vinery Stud. Regrettably the name was sold when a new owner acquired a neighbouring property at Broad’s Crossing. Potter Macqueen’s ‘go to’ man was Peter Macintyre (Kayuga 1827). His direct descendent Duncan now owns the equally totemic Invermien at Scone; originally selected by Francis Little.

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‘Caranna’ and the Cobcrofts

‘Caranna’ and the Cobcrofts

Featured Image: Denise and John Cobcroft at a Sydney ball in 1974

Picture: Rick Stevens     Caroline Overington       The Australian   12:00AM November 1, 2017       Sydney

I’ve labelled this as being about a really good race horse ‘Carannna’ but he’s actually only the lynchpin. It’s all about his owners; the Cobcroft Family of ‘Willowtree’. If you want to know about Caranna the racehorse and stallion visit Ian Ibbett’s great website:


The story of ‘Caranna’s win in the 1955 AJC Derby is a great one. The Cobcroft Brothers Gavin and Arthur were the very fabric of the then ruling rural realm of extremely successful farmers and graziers. They were also the embodiment of the post-WWII veterans who returned to a ‘land of plenty’ in the massive wool boom of the same era. They were hedonistic as well as halcyon days. They all deserved their rich rewards. Fellow genre grazier and North African veteran J K Thompson of ‘Ballantyne’, Cassillis ran second in the Sydney Cup of 1955 with ‘Gay Rannick’. The winners’ enclosure would have resounded wildly and loudly to the bards from the bush. I’ll wager there were some massive side-bets and negotiable bragging rights?

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Kings of the Turf

Kings of the Turf

See: http://kingsoftheturf.com/

Yesterday (26/07/18) I was talking with good mate Graham Harper at the ‘Men’s Shed’ in Scone. I was the enforced labourer assigned to pick up my wife’s refurbished desk. The men did a great job. Graham was quite excited. Knowing of my addiction to turf history he told me he’d uncovered a fantastic story on ‘The Rebarbative John Brown’. I like the word’ rebarbative’. You can insult someone without their really knowing it? Graham had my immediate attention. I was rapt. I’ve been concentrating on the Hunter Valley. The Coal Baron Browns were certainly up front and central in the early days.

I arrived home and successfully unloaded the restored desk without deleterious incident. I googled (new verb) the title. Straight away I discovered an absolute treasure trove of historical racing information. Ian Ibbett has done a superb job; and what a task! You can find all this by clicking on the URL above. You’ll find an ‘Introduction’, ‘Prologue’ and ‘Contacts’. Then the fun really starts. It’s a Magnus Opus (Latin I think). Ian has based his story on ‘A History of the AJC Derby from 1861 to 1977’. It’s monumental, complete and colossal.

For some time I’d been searching for information on Royal Sovereign, the triple Derby Winner who was bred by my wife’s great Uncle F K ‘Darby’ Mackay. It’s all there; in spades. Then I scrolled down to find information on the Thompson Family of Widden (1904). The late ‘Bim’ Thompson was groomsman at our wedding. It’s perhaps demeaning to claim that this online goldmine fills in all the gaps; but it does. Reading through this will take me some time. I’m greatly looking forward to the task. My next move will be to alert my very good friend racing and breeding journalist Brian Russell. Only last week Brian (88) became a resident in an Aged Care Home in Denman. I know it’s an excellent establishment. Brian will be able to compare notes with John Harris formerly of ‘Holbrook Stud’ in the Widden Valley.

Thank you Graham Harper for the introduction; I’m hooked!

Royal Sovereign

Royal Sovereign

Featured Image: Royal Sovereign and Ray Selkrig returning to scale after the AJC Derby 1964 (AJC).

The full text and photographs pertaining to Royal Sovereign can be accessed at Ian Ibbett’s excellent historical series (May 15 2018) which I duly acknowledge:


Note: Royal Sovereign was bred by my wife Sarah’s great uncle F K ‘Darby’ Mackay. He is unique in winning not only the AJC Derby but also the VRC and QTC Derbies in the same racing year 1964/1965).

The 1964 A.J.C. Derby field and race conditions appear in the table which can also be viewed on the website above. Keith Banks who rode Cranleigh (NZ) which failed to finish in the field of ten is now a Scone resident.

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Ride For A Cure – Australian Polo Players take on the Mongol Derby

The Mongol Derby


Image credits: Ride for a cure, The Adventurist


Like the reviewer quoted below I also know these fine young men and their families. I also know there is one very nervous grandmother just up the road in Susan Street Scone! We all wish them well as they begin their count down to the great ride. It’s intriguing to speculate that Angus Paradice from Scone has already completed a ‘rite of passage’ adventure in Mongolia as a schoolboy. Angus is now enrolled at West Point Military Academy in the USA. Ed Archibald enjoys a close working relationship with Angus’ father Scone-bred local David Paradice. The Mongolian ponies might not measure up to the intrepid quadrella’s polo mounts; but they are bred to go the distance.

The Mongol Derby is a 1,000 kilometre race across Mongolia’s Steppe and is known for its gruelling days of hard riding to meet each checkpoint. This year, four Australian polo players are taking on the trek in the name of MS research and for an influential man in their lives. The polo players are none other than top riders Ed Archibald, Rob Archibald, Jack Archibald and Henry Bell and will be heading off to Mongolia in August to compete. I know these men personally and I know they have the courage and determination to conquer this ride.

But first, what is the Mongol Derby? As mentioned above, essentially it’s a one thousand-kilometre endurance race across the Mongolian Steppe. This trek follows in the footsteps of the horse messenger system set up by Genghis Khan himself in 1224. It is known for being the world’s longest, hardest and most difficult horse race in the modern world! It is so gruelling that the horses are changed every 40 km and so the boys will be riding over 28 horses to complete the ride! The terrain varies from mountain passes to open valleys to floodplains and more and the polo players will not only have to conquer that but also the mental aspect. It is such a demanding ride that in its 10th year of running, only while 300 people started the ride, only HALF of them actually finished the race!

So why put yourself through this? Rob Bell was the father and uncle of these polo players and serves as an inspiration to them. Rob suffers from Primary Progressive MS (PPMS), which has left him wheelchair bound but he was a fine horseman and loved to be on the horse and looking between the ears. MS stands for multiple sclerosis and affects the central nervous system by interfering with nerve pulses, the brain, spinal cord and optical nerves. It affects 23,000 Australians every year and 15% of them suffer from PPMS. It is a horrid disease that makes the simplest activities into a chore. When Rob Bell was younger, he dreamed of going on a horseback safari or something similar so son Henry Bell and nephews Jack, Rob and Ed Archibald are doing this in his honour and to raise money to find a cure.

The boys are amazing riders and even more incredible people that will put their heart and soul into riding and finishing this demanding trek. They are aiming to raise over $100,000 (that’s $100 for every kilometre) and if you would like to donate to this worthy cause you can check out their website down below! Follow their journey via Instagram!

Reference: A Ride for a Cure and MS Australia 

Keeneland Concept: “A Dream That Could Be Realised”?

Keeneland Concept: “A Dream That Could Be Realised”?

Featured Image: Keeneland Racecourse

On an earlier occasion I wrote a detailed account of the evolution of a new racecourse at Scone. I called it ‘Dreams’. This is an excerpt focusing on our pathway emulating the ‘Keeneland Concept’ in the United States. We wish? Like I said before all comparisons are odious.

See: https://www.keeneland.com/

On one of his frequent visits to the Upper Hunter Valley, Emeritus Professor Rex Butterfield, President of the Australian Equine Research Foundation and Keeneland (USA) representative in Australia, remarked on the similarity of events at that time to the genesis of the “Keeneland Concept” in Kentucky in 1936. The date was sometime in the early 1980’s and the Upper Hunter was witness to a flurry of activity in the development of thoroughbred racing and breeding in the district, possibly unprecedented, even in the benchmark industries so important historically to the locality.

In his concluding remarks addressed to a mass meeting of breeders and others interested in racing at the Lafayette Hotel on Wednesday afternoon March 20, 1935 Major Louie A. Beard said:

“This may seem like a dream, but I believe it is a dream that can be realised”. The Thoroughbred Record (USA): October 10 1936.

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Comparisons Are Odious: Newmarket?

Comparisons Are Odious: Newmarket?

Featured Image: Newmarket Official Guide Front Cover

I’m not the first. The earliest recorded use of this phrase appears to be by John Lydgate in his Debate between the horse, goose, and sheep, circa 1440:

“Odyous of olde been comparisonis, And of comparisonis engendyrd is haterede.”

It was used by several authors later, notably Cervantes, Christopher Marlowe and John Donne.

In ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, Shakespeare gave Dogberry the line ‘comparisons are odorous’. It seems that he was using this ironically; knowing it to be a misuse of what would have been a well-known phrase by 1599 when the play was written.

I’m also guilty as charged. I facilitated a meeting at the Australian Stock Horse Society on Thursday 12th March 2009. It was entitled ‘Australian Horse Centre for Scone’ and the expert commentators were Schreiber Hamilton Architects Kevin Schreiber and Justin Hamilton. I was then an extremely ‘fired up’ recently inducted Upper Hunter Shire Councillor. I very quickly mellowed! At the meeting I was perhaps over-enthusiastic in drawing comparison between Newmarket, Suffolk, England and Lexington, Kentucky USA. What we do have in common is/are the large scale production of thoroughbred horses in and on world class Thoroughbred Horse Studs. There the similarities (‘comparisons’) end?

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Business Positive About Bypass

Business Positive About Bypass

Filed in Just In by Elizabeth Flaherty December 9, 2016

Featured Image: Sean Constable with guest speaker Chris Lavis and Vickie Asara at the Chamber of Commerce drinks at the Belmore Hotel.


This is a report of the Scone Chamber of Commerce Meeting held in early December 2016. A further meeting was convened recently on Thursday 12th July 2018 which appeared to produce similar outcomes? I was not able to be present for the whole meeting. Much of the proffered dialogue and discussion covered ‘old ground’. Chris Lavis strongly supported and restated his original position. There was also retrospective and even retrogressive commentary from the floor with a few rebarbative remarks? Perhaps we should focus on what comes next as roundly and soundly promulgated by Peter Allen (‘The Thoroughbred’) and others.

Report: December 9 2016

LAST week the Scone Chamber of Commerce met to discuss how they can come together as a business community to face the bypass.

Chris Lavis, owner of Home Timber and Hardware in Scone, Muswellbrook and Branxton shared his experience about how their business not only survived, but thrived after the Branxton bypass.

“We were trading up 8 percent more after the bypass going through, which doesn’t seem like much but considering we also had a Masters and a Bunnings open up within 20 minutes from us so with that in mind it’s incredible to be able to do that and have growth,” said Mr Lavis.

“You do loose some passing trade, but they need to be realistic about how much passing trade they are getting and rethink what their core business is and in most circumstances I think they’ll find they need to have a hard look at their business and be willing to transition and that’s the key you have to look at how you will transition,” he said.

“If you focus on attracting more locals you won’t have to rely on the passing trade as much,” he said.

A study conducted by the University of New South Wales for the Roads and Maritime Services showed after a bypass townships with a population under 2,500 suffered economically, while towns with populations greater than 2,500 benefited, with medium sized towns rather than the larger towns reaping the most benefits.

The study found townships which created a more pedestrian friendly environment in their main streets saw more local people spend more time at local businesses, something Chris Lavis said he saw occur in Branxton.

“It is about making the town and the main street an easy access place, a family friendly, nice, laid back and relaxed atmosphere so that people want to spend more time there,” said Mr Lavis.

“Branxton was a town with a population of 2,000 so it was on that borderline but even myself, my shop was across the road from the bakery and I’d stand there at times looking to cross the road to grab something for lunch and you literally can’t cross the road so you turn around and walk back into the shop and have dried saos for lunch instead,” he said.

“Whereas now businesses like the bottle shop and bakery are still very busy with the passing trade and we have a transfer station for caravans but it is a very nice a relaxed town now where we do find people will park in the main street and they’ll do more of their shopping locally; there are definitely more people spending longer in the town,” he said.

A key to a business thriving post bypass is also how the owners prepare for the transition.

“There was a perfect example of a bakery and a take away shop next to it in Branxton and the take away transitioned straight away they changed their menu, changed their opening hours, put some seating outside and it went from a business before the bypass where nobody wanted to buy it to booming after the bypass, whereas the bakery they didn’t do anything different, they just kept their business as it suffered after the bypass; they then changed some things like the take away shop had done and they are now running a successful shop and have opened a second shop in Huntlee,” said Chris.

“You’ve got to cater to the locals, serve the locals and you’ll generate a loyal client base every week, every day,” he said.

Chris said there were plenty of examples in other towns for how businesses can succeed after a bypass and said it was crucial all businesses unite and be proactive about the change.

“There is often so much energy that can be used trying to fight these things and arguing over the details, but we went into it with the attitude of it’s happening and let’s not waste any time trying to fight it let’s try and get what we need as a business community and as a town and be united,” he said.

“The only way you ca do that is to be positive about the transition,” Chris Lavis said.

‘Berry makes merry to sweet sound of silence’

The Fitz Files

The Sun-Herald

Sunday 23rd. July 2017

‘Berry makes merry to sweet sound of silence’

“A strange and wonderful thing happened in the delightful South Coast burgh of Berry last Thursday, at 8:11pm. Listen! Can you hear it? What? Exactly. Nothing. Silence! A couple of minutes before, they had opened the Berry bypass on the Princes Highway, meaning that the eternal swish of traffic heading south, the trucks, the buses, the cars – and all the air-brakes, the blips on the horns etc. – stopped. The pubs emptied, front doors of houses opened up and down the strip, and out came the peoploids, laughed, sang, lay down in the middle of the main road, and had their photos taken. And a good time was had by all!”

Peter Fitzimons