Racing – A Walk Down Memory Lane

Racing – A Walk Down Memory Lane

By Harley Walden 2002

Featured Image: Peter Pan in the 1933 AJC St Leger Handicap ridden by Jim Pike

The story of Australia’s greatest national sport began with an impromptu bush racetrack, the meeting run by settlers near Windsor in New South Wales in 1805.It contained all the elements of the rugged, the exciting, the bizarre, the picturesque, the daring, the roguish and the boisterous, but never dull and never static as entertainment.

The first recorded Australian race meeting was staged in Hyde Park in Sydney Town on October 15, 17 and 19, 1810. The main event, a two mile run, carried the prize of a silver plate worth fifty pounds. Captain Richie riding Case, a grey gelding freshly imported from the Cape of Good Hope was the successful contender.

Up until then the Cape had been the main source of the better-class horse in the colony, but stallions and some valuable breeding stock were also imported from England, and on two occasions from America.

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Three Courses at Gundy

Three Courses at Gundy

By Leonie Walker, Scone 1983

As there was an Inn at Gundy in the 1850s, and it was customary, in those days, for Inn Keepers form time-to-time to arrange race meetings on a course in the vicinity of their Inns, it is likely that racing at Gundy began as early as the late 1850s.

However, the first report of a race meeting which the writer has an advertisement announcing that the races would be held at Belvue (the early name for Gundy) on April 4, 1873, and that the races were organised by Duncan McPhee, then the licensee and owner of the Inn.

In those days Gundy was even smaller than it is now, as a report dated 26th April 1876, described the village as comprising a Public School, a Public House, an English Church, a Presbyterian Church and two or three dwellings. Both a race meeting and a ball were held at Gundy on St Patrick’s Day in 1877.

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Back to the ‘Deen

Back to the ‘Deen

By Harley Walden 2000

Featured Image: Courtesy of Harley Walden. (I believe the trainer is ERNIE Cribb. It looks like a very young apprentice Alan Robinson in the background?)

The Aberdeen Jockey Club was founded in 1898; down through the years suffering a number of setbacks, including three floods, the first in 1913, the second in 1955 and the one that finally  ended horse racing in Aberdeen was in February 1971.

It’s near on thirty years since the Aberdeen club last unfurled its flag at the pretty Riverside racetrack situated in the bend of the Hunter River at Aberdeen (Jefferson Park). Long gone are the times when the quietude and lethargy gave way to the pounding of hooves and raucous and staccato voices of the men supporting their satchels, those were the good old days, the roarin’ days when the ‘Deen boasted one of the most progressive clubs in Northern NSW.

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When Tester Had His Day

When Tester Had His Day; a Sire That Left His Mark

Racing on the Old Tracks – And More Recent Times; Celebrities of the Periods

Taken from the Scone Advocate dated 24/3/1939

Featured Image: ‘Tester’; gratefully acknowledge Haydon Family (Bloomfield) website


Picking up the threads, or concluding lines, from the last article under the above heading, dealing with the Merv/Kotoroi gelding, Kinetic, Scott Johnston, who had him, promised to supply particulars of others of the many gallopers he had in hand. This information has not come to hand, so the writer, again relying on his memory, continues his memoirs.

He (the scribe) was a very small boy when George (“Sappie”) Campbell led Kotoroi in a winner of the Flying Handicap on the old St Aubins track. She was a beautifully built chestnut mare, and great was the excitement and jollification when the judge declared for her.

It was a Manchester Oddfellows’ meeting, and the late Alf Fleming, for years on the staff of “The Advocate,” and subsequently at the helm of “The Murrurundi Times,” was the guiding hand behind the fixture.

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On the Old Tracks in the Days Long Past

On the Old Tracks in the Days Long Past; Other Sporting Characters and Incidents

Taken from the Scone Advocate 10/3/1939

Featured Image: James ‘Grafter’ Kingsley

The identity of the chronicler of those notes, which have appeared in “The Advocate” from time to time, and which deal with racing and incidents on the many old tracks in the Northern districts in the days when black beards were in vogue, has been elicited from more quarters than one, and from far-removed places, too, thus indicating that they have been widely read. The author is merely one of the members of our literary staff, who has a flair for early history, whether it pertains to our pristine politicians, our first settlers, or the early-day sporting fraternity of which the district has every reason to point with pardonable pride of their achievements.

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“Them was the Days”

“They’re Off!” – When the Spurters Spurted; and Old Palliah Plugged On

“Them was the Days”

Featured Image: J F Poynting’s Willow Tree Hotel, Scone: It appears publicans played a very large part in promoting racing, betting and gaming events!

Taken from the Scone Advocate 7/3/1939

When the scribe, a few days ago, in his moment of leisure, “knocked” a couple of columns of “copy” together, dealing with the doings and incidents on bush tracks, no small section of our readers, like Oliver Twist, passed their, as it were, for a second helping – asked for more, and more.

Penned wholly from memory, the reminiscences of happenings are asked to be accepted in the spirit in which they are presented.

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Doings of the Old Tracks

Doings of the Old Tracks – In the days long since

Celebrities of the Period

Featured Image: George Hopper’s ‘Crown & Anchor Hotel; the start for the match race between Archie Hall of ‘Nandowra’ and W. Grogan of the Commercial Hotel, Aberdeen

Taken from the Scone Advocate 3/3/1939

Apart altogether from the annual and picnic fixtures which eventuated in the days long since, many matches were run and it was not uncommon for these latter events to end unsatisfactory.

With but two horses, and, of course two riders facing the starter, it was quite an easy matter to “get at” one of the riders, the outcome being that the winner wold virtually have a walkover.

In the days referred to there would be meetings held in almost every little locality. Distance was no object to the old-time sportsmen, and hundreds of miles were covered along the bush tracks.

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Old Time Racing and Sport

Old Time Racing and Sport: And Those Who Contributed To It

Acknowledge: This article appeared in the Scone Advocate around the 1950s and was written by A. F. S.; possibly one of the Smith family who had control of the newspaper at that time.

Featured Image: Golden Fleece Hotel; then and now.

Mention of Dan Lewis, a prominent owner-trainer, now nearing an age when memories are just that. He who has led in six Sydney Cup winners, a Melbourne Cup winner and hundreds of other winners all over the Commonwealth, getting his “kick” at the pigeon matches at Scone, then held near the site of the present Scott Memorial Hospital.

The writer, then a lad, is the last of the pristine trappers employed for the job by Dick Solomons, then the proprietor of the Golden Fleece Hotel, in whose backyard he had a pigeon loft and bred the birds for the sport, which attracted the best shots and back-markers in the land, but these visitors invariably had had it put right to them by Alick Campbell, of Scone, who actually pulled off the famous Monte Carlo in one year, and event open to world-wide competition.

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