S T Wootton Dispersal Sale 1987
‘End of an era’ is probably an overworked cliché. However I think it’s more like an understatement in the case of the final dispersal of Stanley Wootton’s bloodstock on 26th April 26th 1987. It could be appropriate that it was the day after ANZAC day? Coincidentally it’s also my wedding anniversary!
The sale was ‘embedded’ in the Easter Broodmare Sale beginning after Lot 70 in the general catalogue. Twelve mares, three weanlings, seven racehorse fillies and five racehorse colts made up the offering. Six year old mare ‘Tobina’ in foal to three times champion sire ‘Bletchingly, also bred by Mr Wootton, topped the sale at $200,000:00. Lot 80 ‘Risca’ (Vibrant/Magic Symbol, dam of Biscay) made $85,000:00 in foal to a very late service to Vain.
‘Risca’ was the biggest foal I ever saw in my whole professional career. She actually caused a condition known as ‘obturator paralysis’ in her dam Magic Symbol who was a very big mare indeed and had delivered many foals. ‘Risca’ had to have a veterinary assisted birth (me) due to ‘hiplock’. Both of these clinical conditions are rare in thoroughbreds (and horses in general) although quite commonplace in some breeds of cattle. Magic Symbol finally regained her feet after about 48 hours’ recumbency. It was a great relief to all concerned at Bhima Stud where special care had enabled her recovery. It heralded the end of Magic Symbol’s breeding life.
In all the twelve mares grossed $684,000:00 at an average of $57,000:00. The ‘crazy eighties’ were inflationary times in a very heated market in the thoroughbred world.
The list of covering stallions was also a firm indicator: Biscay, Bletchingly, Dalmacia, Keen, Lunchtime, Red Anchor, Rutland, Salieri, Tolomeo, Vain and What A Guest.
Oakleigh Stud Dispersal Sale 1973
Mr Tom Flynn had enjoyed a very good innings. His was a most successful venture into thoroughbred breeding in the totemic Widden Valley. The Flynn family had established a highly profitable milk vending business in outer West Sydney. This enabled Tom to exploit his dream with the purchase of ‘Joe’s Paddock’ which he renamed Oakleigh Stud. It was run by his son Ross, daughter-in-law Vass and grandsons Len and John. Oakleigh was immediately adjacent to ‘Baramul’; the home of legendary champion sire Star Kingdom. The Harris family were close neighbours on the other side at ‘Holbrook’. However things started to go awry in the late 1960s. Established sires Red Gauntlet (imp) and Gaul (imp) were showing signs of below average fertility with advancing age. Chronic Rattles in foals was a persistent ‘fly in the ointment’. Also Tom could be a tad tyrannical at times? Tom thought he’d had enough by 1972/1973. This activated his decision to ‘sell out’ in 1973.
Oakleigh was another location where I had ‘honed my early skills’. I recall watching the 1967 Melbourne Cup in the lounge room at Oakleigh. Roy Higgins won on ‘Red Handed’. You could only just make them out through the ‘snow storm’ on the vintage TV set. I became a firm friend of the family. Many years later I was able to repay some of their kindness, generosity and hospitality. Sixty eight mares, several with foals at foot plus resident stallions Red Gauntlet (imp), Regal Light (imp) and Seventh Hussar (imp) were dispersed at Newmarket Stables, Randwick on Tuesday 1st May 1973.
The three stallions realised a total of $149,000:00; Red Gauntlet $71,000:00 to Brian Courtney, Seventh Hussar $60,000:00 to Ray Somers and Regal Light $18,000:00 to D Uren. The 68 mares made an aggregate total of $802,000:00 with an average price tag of $11,795:00. The overall gross total for the sale was $951,000:00.
Imported Alycidon stallion ‘Gaul’ had already found a new home at David Casben’s Yarramolong Stud at Muswellbrook.
In 1977 Oakleigh re-entered the thoroughbred stud world with the importation of Mount Hagen for the southern hemisphere season. The same Irish-based entire had visited Newhaven Park in 1976 as a ‘shuttle’ stallion. Sadly this bold enterprise was very quickly concluded with the emergence of the ‘new’ venereal disease of CEM (Contagious Equine Metritis).
Carrington Stud Dispersal Sale 1972
Mr S G White thought he’d had enough in1971. This activated his decision to ‘sell out’ in 1972. ‘No-one is buying my yearlings’ he proclaimed. Unfortunately his investments in imported stallions Stockade, Faubourg II, Corifi and most recently Just Great (by Worden II) had failed to ‘deliver the goods’. It can be a ruthless business. Numbers count.
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Kia-Ora Stud Dispersal Sales 1959 & 1961
Featured Image: Front Cover Dispersal Sale Catalogue of Kia-Ora Stud, Scone 1959 & Front Cover Dispersal Sale Catalogue of Kia-Ora Stud, Scone 1961
I wrote earlier these sales must have sent shudders throughout the thoroughbred breeding community in not only the Hunter Valley but also NSW and Australia. The two sales represented ‘dispersals’ in different interests of the same property joint ownership. The 1959 sale was under instructions from the Union Trusteeship Company of Australia Limited acting for P F ‘Percy’ Miller. The second 1961 sale was on account of Canara Pty Ltd. Mr Norman Wheeler had ‘bought in’ both ‘Double Bore’ and also ‘Judicate’ (imp) for 2500 Guineas and 9500 Guineas respectively from the 1959 sale. Clearly his intention had been to continue on his own behalf; which resolve lasted for only two years. Five times Champion Sire ‘Delville Wood’ was purchased by near neighbour Ray Bowcock of Alabama Stud for 1200 Guineas at the 1959 sale.
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Tinagroo Stud Dispersal Sale 1957
Mr W H Mackay died in 1956. The mercurial, magnetic and charismatic scion of the hegemonic Mackay clan of the Hunter Valley had enjoyed a full and varied; albeit eccentric and quirky life. Among his many passions which included poetry, polo, piping, pastoral properties, racing, ornithology and ‘romancing’ was thoroughbred breeding. His Tinagroo Stud at Scone was his personal Xanadu. ‘Freckles’ broke the course record at Randwick for 7 furlongs at 1 min 22 secs in 1942. This will stand for all time because the equivalent metric distance is now 1400 metres. Brilliant 2yo ‘Dark Elegance’ was another exceptional product of the stud.
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St Aubins Stud Dispersal Sale 1956
Mr W J Smith had diminished his stock by dispersing 61 highly bred brood mares, 12 yearlings and 5 two-year-olds at his reduction sale on the property in May 1951. This led five years later to the complete dispersal of remaining bloodstock on Monday 14th May 1956. 43 mares with foals at foot and 24 dry mares were featured in the catalogue. Foals-at-foot were by resident stallions Near Way*, Hua, Beau Sun or Video. The same stallions had covered all the mares on offer between them. Three stallions; Hua, Near Way* and Video were offered for sale. In addition 14 yearlings were included and five racehorses; making a grand total of 89 lots
A supplementary catalogue of bloodstock comprising nine lots in total was also offered at the sale on Scone Race Course on Tuesday 15 May 1956.
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St Aubins Stud Special Reduction Sale 1951
Reduction and Dispersal Thoroughbred Stud Sales all tell a tale. The stories are sometimes ‘embellished’ to either promote or disguise salient facts. The exceptions are deceased estates. This is called marketing. It’s a strategy which has been very finely honed in the thoroughbred industry; almost to ‘exquisite expert’ perfection as an extended continuum and recurring theme. Perhaps I’ve become a trite cynical well into my eighth decade?
Mr W J Smith had clearly decided to reduce his vested interest in his extensive thoroughbred breeding enterprise. The enigmatic and mercurial leviathan had enjoyed a brief but profitable foray as the short-term owner of one of Australia’s all-time great thoroughbred racehorses; ‘Shannon’. It was the heady stuff of legend. This reduction sale perhaps accurately presaged the eventual complete dispersal of St Aubins Stud in 1956?
Max Presnell: “The ink is still in my veins after more than 60 years”
By Max Presnell
2 December 2018 — 9:00pm
Featured Image: Acknowledge Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Archive
Golden era: Max Presnell with then-NSW Premier Neville Wran and legendary trainer Tommy Smith in 1976.Credit: Fairfax Archive
Having ‘purloined’ Racing’s Literary Legends elsewhere on this website I thought this one was too good to miss? I did write to Max thinking this was a finale valediction? In which case I said to tell John Fairfax I wouldn’t be buying his paper any more! I cut out the original article for my ‘scrap book’. How Luddite is that? Then I discovered the ‘online model’ which I adduce below. It’s very much better with several extra highly illustrative images including one of emerging ‘young gun’ journalist Richie Benaud. Could there be a message in there somewhere for Ned Ludd?
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Bim & Vain
Featured Image: Acknowledge Ross Du Bourg in his seminal treatise ‘The Australian and New Zealand Thoroughbred’: Page 64
Vanity actually doesn’t come into it. The picture accurately tells the story albeit it’s a well-worn cliché. Bim Thompson and Vain both had a lot to be ‘vain’ about; but both determinedly eschewed the sobriquet. I knew both very well. Bim did not live to witness Vain’s progeny earnings surpass the $1 million adduced by Ross and News Ltd in the subtitle paragraph to the photograph. He died tragically in July 1980. Had he survived he would have been thrilled by the win of ‘Inspired’ in the Golden Slipper Stakes 1984. Co-owner and breeder Simon Nivison from Walcha was one of his very best mates right through school and forever thereafter. ‘Inspired’ (by ‘Vain’ from ‘Thought’) was a very popular winner also celebrated by Jill’s family; the ‘thoroughbred royalty’ Taits from Colac.
Featured Image: Image Page 47; Ross Du Bourg ‘The Australian and New Zealand Thoroughbred’
Ross Du Bourg writes in his seminal treatise ‘The Australian and New Zealand Thoroughbred’:
“Todman had a most unusual torso and peculiarly balanced physique; he was long-backed, low slung and high-rumped, and when I saw him on Baramul Stud on his fourteenth birthday his coat was very light and washed-out. He was clearly unique, and his stock inherited a large portion of his galloping ability, which transcends all considerations of outward physical beauty. Todman died at the Thompson family’s neighbouring historic Widden Stud on 13 June 1976 when within a few weeks of his twenty-second birthday”.
I think I would concur with much of this opinion. However I would never have commented on his coat condition and colour when Mr A O Ellison was still alive! Many of Star Kingdom’s offspring inherited the body shape described by Ross; notably Biscay and his descendants. Biscay had the longest ‘barrel’, largest quarters and flattest croup of any sire I have ever seen. He was superbly muscled. His dam ‘Makapura’ (Imp. by Big Game) had a robust body shape and hind-quarters with which even ‘Jameka’ Williams would have felt ‘diminished’! Conversely his super sire son ‘Bletchingly was short-coupled, short barrel, short rein and short-necked. He had the same rippling musculature as both his illustrious sire and grandsire.
Many good judges and articulate scribes wax eloquent about ‘conformation’. Many of the most ‘shapely’ cannot run fast. The most expensive, arguably ‘perfect’’ yearling of all time by Northern Dancer couldn’t trot. George Ryder always used to say somewhat acerbically ‘there are no looking races’!