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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Upper Hunter Land Use Planning

Upper Hunter Land Use Planning

A fresh initiative has been set up designed to ‘firm up’ and lobby the NSW Governments’ commitment to its Land Use Planning Strategies.  It’s called ‘Upper Hunter National Treasure’ and can be found at the site address:

The website requests that the Senate support a 2020/21 National Heritage nomination and establish a Committee to report on the national importance of the Upper’s Hunter’s connecting equine, viticulture and agricultural critical cluster and townships.

Its purpose is to preserve the critical equine, viticulture and agricultural clusters from the NSW Government’s plans for coal, mineral and coal seam gas exploration and high density wind, solar and bio-farms within the region. A petition has been organised which at your absolute discretion you are at liberty to support; or not.

Upper Hunter Region Equine Profile:

Upper Hunter Region Agricultural Profile:

HUNTER ESTATES A Comparative Heritage Study of pre 1850s Homestead Complexes in the Hunter Region:

About The Wonnarua:

The Fabulous Foysters

The Fabulous Foysters

Featured Image:  Mark & John Foyster Dispersal Sale 1992. It was a ‘modest catalogue’ of 83 lots.

The ‘Fabulous Foysters’ burst upon the Australian Racing Industry like an old fashioned gold rush of the 19th century. Perhaps a stock market ‘Poseidon Adventure’ boom might be more apposite? Bill Casey called it ‘taking racing by storm’. In their case it was a rutile fortune and not gold. Three of the brothers, the sons of ‘old Jack’, developed thoroughbred studs: Lloyd with ‘Gooree’ at Mudgee, John ‘Guntawang’ at nearby Gulgong and later Mark at ‘Balfour’, Jerrys Plains (formerly ‘Carrington’). The final dispersal sale of the interests of Mark & John at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Sales Complex on Wednesday 15 January 1992 brought down the final curtain on the quixotic Foyster saga. It lasted for a bare 25 years?

Journalist Malcolm Brown hit the nail on the head with his hagiographic obituary to Lloyd Foyster which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 16th January 2012: Breeder with a taste for risk’

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Thoroughbred International Pty Ltd Dispersal Sale 1981

Thoroughbred International Pty Ltd Dispersal Sale 1981

Not infrequently in the thoroughbred breeding industry instant leviathan behemoths emerge. They invariably set out to dominate. Sometimes they do; usually for a short period only.

Brian Maher was such a person. He had enjoyed extraordinary success in the world of high finance and entrepreneurial commerce with his ‘bottom-of-the-harbour’ tax avoidance schemes. He made no secret of the fact. It was as if ‘nothing succeeds like excess’? Inevitably he attracted the avid interest of the Australian Government and ATO in particular. The pendulum swung against him.

In the interim Brian had invested very heavily in elite bloodstock. He and his equivalent cohort appear to love the high profile and enjoy the often transient limelight. In Brian’s case he elected to link up with John Kelso at Timor Creek Stud, Blandford, NSW. This was a smart move; to begin with. Brian had immediate access to the totemic Kelso brand-name with profound industry knowledge and John appreciated the ‘financial clout’ Brian brought along with him. It worked out well for a while but inevitably turned toxic when Brian thought he could dispense with John’s expertise.

With Brian’s demise in the High Court a full dispersal sale of his assets was unavoidable. This took place at the Gold Coast Convention and Sales Centre on Monday 27th July 1981 and Tuesday 28th July 1981. The conjoint agents were AML & F Brisbane, ABCOS Adelaide, Dalgety Victoria and William Inglis & Son Pty Ltd. 233 broodmares, two year olds, yearlings and weanlings were on offer.

Among the superb mares for sale were Golden Slipper Winners ‘Fairy Walk’ and ‘Vivarchi’ plus their progeny. Many were either from or closely related to the elite band of broodmares assembled by R F Moses at his boutique Fairways Stud, Muswellbrook. The resident covering stallions at Timor Creek at this time were Raffindale (GB), Jukebox (GB), Sharp Edge (GB) and Cheyne Walk. The latter was also bred at Fairways being by Le Cordonnier out of Fairy Walk (first foal). John Kelso was a great admirer of Reg Moses.

The highly successful sale brought to an abrupt end the rapid rise and equally precipitous fall of Brian Maher in the thoroughbred breeding industry. I think John Kelso was quietly relieved to be freed from the tentacles?

Banjo, Polo and Scone

Banjo, Polo and Scone

Featured Image: The first known photograph of the Scone Polo Club players; acknowledge ‘History of the Scone Polo Club 1891 to 1981’ by W A Bishop

Grantlee Kieza writes in his excellent biography ‘Banjo’ about Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson’s early love affair with the sport of Polo. Citing ‘Polo’ the Sydney Mail and New South Advertiser, 16 January 1892, p. 152 Kieza describes the visit by the Sydney Polo Club to Scone;

“In January 1892 Banjo and his club-mates caught the train to Scone, three hundred kilometres north of Sydney, to play polo against the landed gentry in that picturesque part of the colony. Banjo played well and in the final quarter ‘got the ball out of a hustle, and took it up the field to within  a foot of the goal, when the Scone full-back (No 4) just managed to tip it to the side and save the goal’”.

The locals eventually won, but it was a spirited match that lasted two hours, and the players all worked up an appetite for a convivial dinner at Scone’s Golden Fleece Hotel. The Members of the Committee of the Scone Club in 1891 were J A K Shaw, W B Pulling, A G White, H J Leary and W H Duckham. The Honorary Secretary was F A Parbury on whose Satur Property matches were played. Playing Members of the Scone Polo Club were J A K Shaw, W E White, A G White, V M White, A Ebsworth, F A Parbury, Dr Harry Scott, H J Leary, J J Dodd, W H Duckham, A Davies, W B Pulling and H Wiseman.

It’s just possible that this and other similar rural jousts inspired the spark for Banjo’s immortal ‘Geebung Polo Club’? Admittedly many other clubs and districts claim the right to the original entitlement. However, as author Grantlee Kieza rightly points out many of Banjo’s icons such as ‘Clancy of the Overflow’ and the ‘Man from Snowy River’ are ‘composites’?

It’s eminently possible, even probable, that Banjo Paterson cemented enduring friendships with a number of Scone’s intelligentsia including Solicitor J A K Shaw, Dr H J H Scott and Headmaster of Scone Grammar School W B Pulling. Banjo was known to make several regular visits to the town and district.

The following ‘Geebung Polo Club’ was printed in ‘The Antipodean’ the year after Banjo visited Scone to play Polo against the locals in 1892. ‘Banjo’ also played against the Muswellbrook Club at a venue in Sydney later in 1892.

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