Since I posted this Brian has written: ”
Bill, I am a humble person who is very grateful for the life the industry has provided me with. Thanks for your review: call on me at anytime. BRIAN”. Humility is a trait I missed.
This post has four elements:
- My biography of Brian Russell compiled from sources he supplied
- Brian’s own autobiography delivered as I was writing
- A copy of the Thoroughbred News September 2016
- Looking Back on 55 years reviewing breeding; Thoroughbred Review March 22nd 2018.
This is the story of another legend of the Thoroughbred Industry in NSW and Australia. I’ve written elsewhere on this ‘blog’ about Bruce Lowe, Bert Lillye, John Inglis, Stanley Wootton and George Ryder. It’s also about exceptional breadth and depth of knowledge, rich experience, devotion, dedication, perseverance, application, industry, passion and courage in adversity. I’m writing of a person who has had ‘a longer innings’ than probably anyone else before or since in thoroughbred journalism. The cricketing analogy is apposite although I think Brian might have preferred Rugby League? Brian’s contributions may have been mildly prolix in style but never prosaic. I’ve oft been accused of purple prose myself! His vignettes are invariably profound filled with information and intelligence. Either one or both of his memory and research are weighty. I think it’s a truism to claim that Brian has written more copy about his beloved subject than any other equivalent ‘conventional’ writer throughout history? His knowledge is encyclopaedic; matching his delivery. It’s almost as if he seeks to fit too much into his monographs?
At the time of writing Brian has just celebrated his 87th birthday. That’s the devil’s number in Australian cricket; but no matter. It means Brian has been involved in thoroughbred racing and breeding journalism for almost 60 years. It has taken him to races and sales in all States with the possible exception of WA. I don’t think I’m the best person to do this; but I’m afraid no-one else will? I firmly believe these stories should be recorded for posterity before it’s too late. In addition Brian has written some kind words about me: quid pro quo. He has also lashed me at times with his acerbic wit! You take the good with the bad in equal measure.
Brian was a farm boy from the hot dry dusty NSW western plains town of Trundle. His parents were Fred and Florence Russell who owned at different times two sheep and wheat farms which were ‘primitive’ with amenities compared to today’s Harvey Norman inspired excesses. Brian, born on 29 September 1930, and his year-older sister Joyce had their first schooling by correspondence on ‘Penzance’; the first of the two rural properties. Along with Joyce, Denise and Elizabeth he spent a few years among about a dozen children at a small bush school before finishing primary in Trundle. After three years of ‘polished’ secondary schooling at Sydney Grammar School (the same school as the Prime Minister!) Brian spent ‘several years chasing sheep in central Queensland’. There were brief stints with advertising agencies in Brisbane and Sydney before Brian started his writing career at Coonabarabran. This was much nearer to home! One of his favourite ensembles is a NSW Country Rugby League blazer emblazoned with a pocket badge recording the brilliant victory of the Coonabarabran Reserve Grade team in the local Group competition. Brian played in the second row; which seems unlikely today. He modestly and humorously attributes his selection to the fact he was Club Secretary: and a selector! I think he might well have earned his stripes?
Brian followed this career path for about 10 years; firstly at Coonabarabran and then later at Wyong on the Central Coast. Brian joined the now defunct but then highly respected stud stock journal NSW Country Life in 1961 as sub-editor. The editor was Frank O’Loghlen who for several years also wrote under the sobriquet Eurythmic on thoroughbred breeding. Scone-bred racehorse and stallion ‘Eurythmic’ was an already established famous name in Australian racing and breeding. It was an easy fit. Sadly Frank O’Loghlen passed away in 1963. The editor of Country Life had a ready-made successor in the pipeline. He invited Brian to take over the thoroughbred section. Brian grabbed the opportunity with relish! This was fundamental experiential learning at its very best.
It was the beginning of the marathon innings in what has been his life’s journey ever since. When I came to Australia in 1967 I used to buy the Country Life to read Brian’s articles. I can possibly claim this as an association of half a century; continuing the ‘inappropriate’ cricket analogy.
Brian left Country Life in 1971 to become the associate editor of the national monthly magazine Racetrack with the aim of developing a major breeding section. He spent the next 10 years at Racetrack enduring traumatic physical difficulties for much of this time. During a visit to South Australia in 1972 Brian contracted an encephalitis-type arbovirus illness probably due to a mosquito bite. It left him paralysed on the left side and unable to walk; initially without a walking stick and latterly dependant on a mobile walker.
About thirty years ago Brian started his own specialist breeding publication, The Australian Thoroughbred Review. This was both adventurous and courageous. The ‘Review’ expanded into a major magazine in 1984 with the formation of a partnership between Brian and breeding and racing enthusiast Andrew Reichard. They established a publishing house at Richmond in the Hawkesbury Valley. He sold out to partner Reichard in the early 1990s but still contributes to this magazine under its new iteration Bluebloods. In addition Brian publishes a weekly review ‘Australian Thoroughbreds’ which is distributed by Email to 3200 ‘subscribers’ in racing and breeding. This is a global circulation. His able assistant is Lesley Moore who is the daughter of legendary Scone horseman, trainer and stud-master Jack Johnston of ‘Tyrone’: therefore granddaughter of Scott Johnston. It’s a very nepotistic and incestuous industry!
Despite peregrinations throughout the country and Commonwealth Brian found time to court and win the hand in marriage of constant companion Deirdree Anne Connolly. They were married in Mittagong NSW on 19th December 1966. Deirdree was a Queenslander: born in Townsville on 15 May 1939. A gentleman should never divulge the age of a lady! Where does that place me? Deirdree claims a distant relationship to former great Melbourne Jockey and VRC Steward Jack Purtell. Jack was the only known rival for American entertainer Jimmy ‘The Snozzle’ Durante in the proboscis stakes. To win a race ‘by a nose’ would have been by a clear margin? After taking some time a son Ian Russell was welcomed into the world on 7 February 1972. There were massive celebrations in the Russell household. These were matched very recently with the arrival of a beloved grandson born to Ian and spouse in Richmond. Ian is also involved in racing and breeding; compiling form guides for the news service AAP Racing.
Brian and Deidree made their first home at Richmond. There then followed a sojourn in Scone. The ambience wasn’t quite right so the Russell family decamped to nearby Muswellbrook where they still reside in an ‘ideal’ location very close to the Muswellbrook Hospital in Brecht Street. Brian served on the Committee of the Muswellbrook Race Club for many years. This was a social and community high light of the life of Brian in Muswellbrook. His 80th birthday party was hosted at the club. It is no accident that Brian can talk, write and quote such impressive statistics about the thoroughbreds he loves. He can go back to the very origins of the breed. He has built this knowledge based on assiduous research from his extensive library of books and collection of magazines. His tiny office is bursting at the seams with historical memorabilia. Brian has also embraced and even mastered modern technology; not easy for those of our genre, gender and generation! Treasure ‘Trove’ and Search Engines have opened up a ‘brave new world’ even Aldous Huxley could barely have imagined? Who predicted Encyclopaedia Britannica would become a Dodo?
Brian has justifiably received major awards from the NSW Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and the Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeders. However he very modestly proclaims he should have been making the awards to them ‘for the opportunity to enjoy such an interesting lifestyle’. Since he started writing on thoroughbreds in the early 1960s Brian has probably seen more sires than any other person in Australia. His perambulations have taken him to most studs big and small in NSW, Southern QLD, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. He was also a regular at horse sales and attended top race meetings including five Melbourne Cups as well as ‘majors’ in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. When Country Life published photographs of yearlings this brought Brian into intimate propinquity with the full hierarchy on the studs from Stud Masters (owners) to Stud Managers and Stable Hands. It was a diplomatic juggling act. Brian preferred the latter. So do I. He was always a champion of the underdog. He was a closer friend of John Clancy at ‘Yarramolong’ than owner Dave Casben; although comfortable in the company of both. In later years he has assiduously promoted smaller players such as Mary Hallett at ‘River Ridge’ and Boyd Gageler at ‘Rosehill’.
Brian has bred and raced a few horses himself but is still waiting patiently for the next ‘Winx’. His main claim to fame is he bred a filly by the name ‘Maid of Wingen’. If ever you drive north on the New England Highway via Scone through the village of Wingen you will see the rocky outcrop known locally as the ‘Maid’ on the left hand side. If you partake a little of the local brew ‘Wingen Whine’ at the Durham Hotel arrange a Plan B driver. The ‘Maid’ comes alive! However I digress. ‘Maid of Wingen’ (the horse) was injured in work so Brian sold her for $1:00 to her trainer the late John Griffith of Scone. She went on to produce eight winners for the Griffith family including the 1999 Ipswich Cup Winner ‘Bozeman’; no hard feelings and no sour grapes.
Brian Russell is a very modest and compassionate man. He occasionally disguises this with his acerbic sometimes caustic wit. I’ve ridden the emotion myself. Too often in the past I’ve been unable to say and/or write the things I wished I’d done before. That’s why I dedicated my website to Alec Herbert. I could just as easily have done the same for Ron Jeffries, Jim Gibson, Syd Anderson, Kevin Fitzgerald, Reuben Cochrane, John Flaherty or many others who may be forgotten with the fullness of time. As I was compiling this encomium Brian sent me his ‘autobiographical’ version. I’m going to post both on my website and ‘blog. You be the judge. Hopefully there won’t be too many glaring errors or conflicting facts. Facts should be just that; not Donald Trump’s alternative ‘fake’ variety.
Brian Russell, 67 Brecht Street Muswellbrook NSW
Phone (02) 6543 3051, email email@example.com
BRIAN RUSSELL – a fortunate life
The tale of my life began when I was born on the 21st of September 1930, 87 years ago, at the cottage hospital at the small town of Trundle, one with the widest main street in Australia and the hotel with the longest overhanging verandah, on the fringe of western NSW, 420 kms inland from Sydney, to Fred and Florence Russell, formerly of Sydney, a year younger brother for Joyce and subsequently and older one to Denise and Elizabeth (deceased).
Fred and Florence at that time had a modest 600 acre wheat and sheep farm about 15 kms west of Trundle and lived in a one room hut and for transport used a one horse pulled sulky, a vehicle with big iron rimmed wheels. Before I was two, my father and a carpenter built a timber and iron roofed house, one which its early days had several walls made of hessian. It was a hot box in the summer and cold in the winter. The dust blew in and the snakes liked its shade, there was no refrigeration or electric lighting – keroscene laterns lit the way, there was an iron stove, cool safe and water bag provided a cool drink, the lavatory was a hole in the ground with a shelter over 100 metres away from the house – thank goodness for the chamber pot. A radio with a 100m aerial and a wind up gramophone provided entertainment and a party line wall mounted telephone outside communication. To cool off, we swam in a muddy dam, with the dogs, dead sheep in the corner and burr grass for a beach under the watchful eye father Fred. He was a very strong swimmer who with three others won an Australian title with Manly Life Saving Club. I don’t think mother could swim a stroke.
The kids did not know, but it must have very tough to survive during the terrible economic depression of the early 1930s and also the long droughts. My parents not only survived, but about 1938 bought another farm, Rockleigh, closer to Trundle and also acquired a stock and station agency in the town. Dad did well and consequence his children got a better education. My sister Joyce and myself started our primary schooling by correspondence, followed with four years at a 12 pupil bush school and then the balance at Trundle public. We all went away to senior School, myself spending three years at Sydney Grammar, College Street, Sydney, staying with my maternal grandmother at Neutral Bay.
In my first year at Grammar, I topped the first year in history and went close for English, but struggled for the next two years, scraping through in the Intermediate, more interested in sport, rather than study. At this juncture I left school and spent several years chasing sheep and cattle on several big properties in central Queensland.
Following a yearning to write, I spent six years with advertising agencies, two years in Brisbane and the balance in Sydney, learning the art of copywriting and advertising production. This was followed by a five year stint on a country newspaper, the Coonabarabran Times and then four years managing a newspaper at Wyong.
While at Coonabarabran I played Rugby League, cricket and golf and drink the pub dry. Was good at the latter but modest in the others. I won a blazer as a footballer with the Coonabarabran reserve grade grand final winning team in 1956. Some cruel people suggested I only got in the team through being the Club secretary and a selector. While at Coona, I also attended many country race meetings.
At Wyong I was instrumental in the establishing of the Wyong rugby league club and was the foundation secretary. Also at Wyong, I developed the habit of sending news items to other publications and this led in 1961 to an accepted offer to join the staff in Sydney of the now defunct weekly stock journal NSW Country Life as a sub editor. Two years later following the death of their writer on thoroughbred breeding and racing, I took over this section and that started a 54 years life of writing on thoroughbred breeding and racing. It is a saga which was nearly terminated at the outset when I wrote that Reg Moses, one of the stallion’s three owners, stood Star Kingdom. It did not go down well with Alfred Ellison, the owner of Star Kingdom’s base, Star Kingdom in the Widden Valley.
My life with thoroughbreds has been comprised by four chapters, eight years at Country Life, ten years from 1971 as bloodstock editor of national monthly magazine Racetrack (now defunct), eight years as founder, sole owner (first four years) and then in a partnership as managing editor of the Australian Bloodhorse Review, a monthly publication now called Bluebloods, and since 1990 compiler on my own of news which is now sent by email to over 3200 in breeding and racing under the banner of the Australian Thoroughbred. It doesn’t make any money, but keeps me occupied in my old age.
During my journey as a writer on breeding and racing, prior to the end of last century, I visited most of the stud farms in New South Wales, Victoria, Southern Queensland and Tasmania, viewed more than a thousand sires and was speaking terms the majority of stud owners. I was a regular at most Sydney race meetings and attended others in Melbourne – five Melbourne Cups in the 1960s – Brisbane and Adelaide and had thepleasure of viewing a cavalcade of great thoroughbreds.
In December 1966 while at Country Life I married Deidree Ann Connolly, home town Mittagong, but then a nursing sister at Auburn Hospital, Sydney. We purchased our first home, a neat three bedroom cottage at Eastwood, Sydney in 1970 for $15,000 (I think I borrowed the lot) and our one and only child, Ian, was born February 15 1972. Unfortunately in June of that year I was struck down by a virus picked up while on a horse stud visit to South Australia that paralysed my left side and put me in a bed for eight months – Ryde Hospital then neighbouring Coorabel rehab. They said I would never walk again, but the wonderful physios at Coorabel got me going. My left leg has been in a brace ever since and my left arm is weak, but I have never stopped work. I have to use a walker or wheel chair.
Through our married life, we have owned and lived in six houses in order Eastwood, Kincumber (Central Coast Coast) – got flooded out, Scone, Richmond and, after I sold my interest in the magazine, briefly a unit in Brook Street Muswellbrook and then our current abode at 67 Brecht Street, Muswellbrook.
Our son Ian at 44 married Michelle Ruiz early 2016 and they presented us with a grandson, Tommy, in January. My ambitions at the age of 87 is to be around to be able enjoy some mateship with Tommy and to be sitting in front of my computer on December 21 2030 compiling my thoroughbred news and with a message on my desk from King Charles congratulating me on my 100th birthday. BRIAN RUSSELL
Brian Russell Bloodstock Media Service 67 Brecht Street, Muswellbrook, NSW 2333, Australia
Phone (02) 6543 3051, Fax (02) 6541 1033 Email firstname.lastname@example.org SEPTEMBER 5 2016
A BREEDING REVIEW WITH COMPLIMENTS
Winx’s ancient Australasian Family puzzled Stud Book
WINX, the Street Cry (Ire) mare who has shown awesome smooth gear changes as she romped to victory in her last ten starts, six of them Group1, is from one of the oldest Families in Australasia, one established here through the importation to NSW of The Giggler, an 1837 England foaled mare.
The Giggler teetered on not having her offspring admitted to the Australian Stud Book owing to imperfect foaling records. Exclusion would have been a tragedy as one of five foals under her name in volume 1 of this register, one published in 1877, was Vanity, the ancestress from use in New Zealand of some of Australasia’s greatest racehorses, including Winx.
The first top level descendants of Vanity were fourth generation brother and sister Menschikoff, winner of practically every classic race in New Zealand, and Stepdancer, winner of the Dunedin Cup on two occasions.Three foals out of Stepdancer were the Martian, a champion sire got in England and foaled in New Zealand, siblings Warstep (to quote from The Australasian Racehorse, a book published in the1950s, “Probably the best staying bred mare ever bred in New Zealand”), Warlove (won New Zealand Oaks) and Stardancer (more modest; dead heat winner CJC Stewards’ Handicap).
Stardancer, the eighth dam of Winx, is the mainstay of the Family. She produced the fillies Starland (12 wins, including the Auckland Cup), Limelight (12 wins, CJC Metropolitan Handicap, Great Autumn Handicap), Starmist (won New Zealand Oaks) and Spotlight, lightly raced grandam of El Khobar (seven wins and twice placed in nine Australasia, won Doomben 10,000, Warwick Stakes, also winner USA, track record Hollywood Park, sire).
Two great racehorses in the 1960s descending from Limelight were great grandson Sometime (by Summertime; winner Caulfield Cup, Caulfield Stakes, St George Stakes,Turnbull Stakes, Alister Clark Stakes – twice, etc) and fourth generation Galilee (Alcimedes;18 wins including Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Sydney Cup).
Since the era of Galilee, Sometime and El Khobar, there does not appear to have been a Group1 in this branch of the Family until the emergence of Winks, a 5-year-old bay mare trained by Chris Waller for Magic Bloodstock Racing (Mgr: P.G. Tighe), R.G. Treweeke and Mrs D.N. Kepitis who has now raced on 20 occasions for 14 wins, three seconds and over
This situation could change on Saturday if Winx’s Waterhouse trained 3-year-old half-brother El Divino challenges in the Golden Rose.This imposing looking bay colt raced by his breeder John and Debbie Camilleri (Fairway Thoroughbreds) in partnership with Widden Stud, has raced three times for two wins at two, a maiden at Gosford (by 4.8 lens) and the Kindergarten at Randwick (a length), and at three a solid fourth in the Run To The Rose at Rosehill Gardens on August 27,
Both reared on Segenhoe Stud for the Camilleris, Winx, a $230,000 Gold Coast yearling, and El Divino are the only runners so far among six foals (includes a Snitzel 2yo colt and a filly by him foaled August 20) produced by Vegas Showgirl, a good class New Zealand 2-year-old and sprinter by the Success Express sire Al Akbar and from Vegas Magic, a minor winner by the Victoria stood Northern Dancer sire Voodoo Rhythm.The first foal from Vegas Showgirl, 2010 produced Miss Atom Bomb, is an unraced Encosta de Lago broodmare owned in Victoria by P. Board. She produced a Sepoy filly last September and went to Exceed and Excel.
The first four generations of the maternal pedigree of Winx and El Divino has sires noted for transmitting qualities of toughness and durability. The third dam, Vegas Street, was the result of the mating of Sovereign Edition with Vegas, a winning half-sister by the Stardust sire Stunning to El Khobar.
Sire’s gold medalist performers in both hemispheres
RACING in both hemispheres was ornamented in the second half of August by successes by 3-year-olds by the Darley shuttler Medaglia d’Oro, a son of the Sadler’s Wells champion American sire El Prado, deserving gold medals for excellence. Loosely, by the way, Medaglia d’Oro in Italian is gold medal, in consequence the nomination.
Two Medaglia d’Oro displayers of superior ability have been Songbird, a new Queen of American racing who cruised to a seven lengths win in $600,000 Group1 Alabama Stakes (2000m, dirt) at New York State’s Saratoga on August 20, and Astern, a budding Australian star who won the Group 2 $175,000 Run To The Rose (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on August 27.
Possessed of similar smooth gear changes, Song Bird has laid claim to reverence to being the Winx of America as she has captured all her ten starts, all against her own sex and, except for a 6 ½ lengths debut win in July 2015, in black type races, six of them Group1.
The Group1 successes have been the Del Mar Debutante Stakes (1400m, 5 ¼ lens), Santa Anita Chandelier Stakes (1700m, 4 ½ lens) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (1700m, 5 3/4 lens) at two and Santa Anita Oaks (1700m, 3 ¾ lens), Saratoga Coaching Club American Oaks (1800m, 5 ¼ lens) and the Alabama Stakes.
Songbird is from Ivanavinalot, a winner of six races to Group 2 by West Acre, an unraced son of influential Mr. Prospector sire Forty Niner. Another Forty Niner sire, Group 2 winner Roar, was the sire of the dam of Rachel Alexandra, the Medaglia d’Oro filly who won 13 of 19 starts, including five Group1s. She was American Horse of the Year at three and is a Hall of Fame inductee.
The grandam, the unraced Deputy Minister mare Beaty Shark, includes three successful in stakes among ten winners from eleven starters. She is from Torsion Belle, an unraced half-sister to Freedom Flower, dam in Australia of Stormy Regent, an Archregent gelded Group 3 winning sprinter, and Floribunda, a Brief Truce Melbourne winner bred in NSW by P.R. Stewart and Mrs B.E. Woodford-Smith, Huntworth Stud. They bred three winners from her, including the Bel Esprit Sydney sprinter Royal Esprit.
Songbird and Rachel Alexandra are among 13 American Group1 winners by Medaglia d’Oro to date. One of the others is Warrior’s Reward, a Spendthrift Farm, Kentucky sire who has had stakes winners and who is now on his second visit to their new stud in Victoria.
Also from a Mr. Prospector male line mare, Warrior’s Reward (Aust. fee $11,000) is one of three sons of Medaglia d’Oro on show in the current edition of the national sire book Stallions. Both Australian bred and performed and making their sire debuts, they Golden Slipper winner Vancouver (Coolmore, Hunter Valley; fee $66,000) and San Domenico winner Nostradamus (Rosemont, Vic, $8,800). Nostradamus is a half-brother to Star Witness, the Widden Stud sire whose son Star Turn won the San Domenico at Rosehill Gardens on August 13 and then got narrowly beaten by Astern in the Run To The Rose.
Both Nostradamus and Vancouver are from Danehill male line mares, a quality also possessed by Astern, a colt bred by Darley and owned by their racing arm Godolphin.
Now winner of four of five starts, all in Sydney and, besides this event, including the Silver Slipper and Kindergarten, Astern is the result of the mating of Medaglia d’Oro with brilliantly bred Essaouira, an Exceed an Excel filly who ran twice, showing up as a spectacular prospect with a six lengths debut win at Moonee Valley.
Also dam of Mogador, a Lonhro colt who has won twice in Sydney and stakes placed in Brisbane and Melbourne, Essaouira is from Alizes, an STC Magic Night Stakes winner from La Baraka, an AJC Galaxy winner from the Marscay champion Triscay. She won five Group1s, the VRC Australian Guineas, AJC Flight Stakes, Champagne Stakes, Oaks and Queensland Oaks.
Medaglia d’Oro, himself a winner of eight of 17 starts, including three Group1s, runner up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and in the Belmont Stakes and Dubai World Cup, had two runners in this year’s Run To The Rose, the other being mid field placed Tessera. Out of a Flying Spur mare, he was one of seven stakes winners (three 2-year-olds) supplied by this sire’s Australian bred progeny in 2015-16.
Two Hunter Valley studs host El Prado sires
MEDADGLIA D’ORO (Darley Aberdeen), the source of Astern, winner of this year’s Run To The Rose, is one of two of the best racing and sire sons of El Prado, a grey son of Sadler’s Wells bred in Ireland in 1989 who, running for Robert Sangster, followed up wins in three majors at Curragh at two by becoming a very successful sire in America, are available at Dubai owned studs in the Hunter Valley.
Also used in America, the other is Artie Schiller, a 2001 bay El Prado sire who is on his ninth visit to Australia, standing this year on $22,000 at Nasser Lootah’s Emirates Park at Blandford, Murrurundi, but previously used out here in Mike Becker’s care in Victoria at the Independent Stallions Stud and then Emirates Victoria.
So far Artie Schiller has had about 250 Australian sired starters,150 winners (11 SWs) of 400 races and $13million. In the 2015-16 year, his Australia produced horses included 61 winners (four successful in stakes, two at two; 11 2-year-old winners) of 88 races and $3.9million.
All told he has had in Australia 11 stakes winners and six stakes placed.Those on his honour board include Group1 Classic star Laser Hawk (dam by Canny Lad; won Rosehill Guineas, third ATC Australian Derby, Randwick Guineas, George Main Stakes) and 2015-16 2-year-olds Good Standing (Giant’s Causeway; won the Silver Slipper and Kindergarten) and Flying Artie (Rubiton; won Blue Diamond Prelude, second Blue Diamond, Maribyrnong Plate, third Golden Slipper).
Group1 performers in America have included We Miss Artie (Fusaichi Pegasus; won Keeneland Breeders’ Futurity), My Conquestadory (Malibu Moon; Keeneland Alcibiades Stakes, third Del Mar Oaks), Mr. Commons (Apalachee; two Group 2 wins, Group1 placed in three, including Santa Anita Derby) and Blingo (Sure Blade; Group 2 winner, third Santa Anita Handicap),.
Artie Schiller was a high class American performer who, in earning $2million, ran 22 times for ten wins, including the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He is from Hidden Light, a Majestic Light Santa Anita Oaks, Hollywood Oaks and Del Mar Oaks winner out of Tallahto, a half-sister to the dam of Ferdinand, a Nijinsky winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Breeders Cup Classic. Used at stud in America and then Japan, Ferdinand ended up with the ignomy of being slaughtered for use as pet food or human consumption.
El Prado (1989 – 2009), the sire of Artie Schiller and Medaglia d’Oro, was only used in America, rising up to be one of the most formidable sires of his time. Sixteen crops produced over 600 winners (88 SWs) of 2300 races and $117million.
His greatest legacy in America has been 2001 foaled Kitten’s Joy (dam by Roberto sire Lear Fan), their Champion Turf Male performer at three. Champion North American Sire 2013 and Leading Turf Sire for four successive years, he has had eight crops of racing age provide 465 winners (69 SWs, four champions) of 1391 races and $59million.
El Prado mare helps Foxwedge on path to sire honours
RACING success in both hemispheres in recent weeks have indicated that the management at the burgeoning young Hunter Valley stud, Newgate Farm, a neighbour of Darley near Aberdeen, were wise when they chose the Fastnet Rock dazzling Group1 winning sprinter Foxwedge (fee $22,000) as their foundation sire. Also in use at a prominent English stud, Whitsbury Manor, Foxwedge is moving up the European 2016 first up crop sire’s list with his first northern hemisphere 2-year-olds and challenging for leadership in the Australian two crop statistics (oldest three) following the impressive win of the Chris Waller trained filly Foxplay in the Group 2 Furious Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday. She kept finding more as she chased the leaders in the straight and could be a good candidate for majors at 1600m.
Foxplay is the sixth black type earner for Foxwedge, the others being Volpe Veloce (two wins to Listed New Zealand), Kentucky Miss (Sydney winner, third Group 3 San Domenico), Aghna (third Wyong Magic Millions), Seafront (won, Group 3 second Curragh) and Urban Fox (two wins UK, Group 3 third and fourth).
His other Australian progeny include A Mist Opportunity (won Sydney), Fox Tales (won Adelaide Magic Millions), Foxy Housewife (Kembla Grange) and Love Me Baby (Canberrra). Also his first crop European 2-year-olds include King of Spades (won Deauville, France), Elliptical (won Newmarket, UK),Tap Tap Boom (won Epsom UK), Peak Princess (won Beverley UK), Foxy Boy (won Carlisle UK), Lanjano (won Redcar UK), Scoffaw (won Chester UK), Balgair (won Sandown UK) and Fox Dream (won Listowel Ireland).
One of his English foals, Star Empire, has raced twice in America and won on both occasions. On debut he won a five furlongs event at New York’s Belmont Park in 0:58.44.
Foxwedge’s best prospect in Australia so far appears to be Saturday’s Furious, a performer who has narrowly missed four successive wins in Sydney since the beginning of June. In order they have been a second at Warwick Farm (0.5 len), win Rosehill (3.0 lens), second Rosehill (head) and Saturday’s win.
Bred by S.F. Bloodstock and bought by Star Thoroughbreds from the Newgate draft at the Gold Coast, she is a half-sister to Butterboom (filly by Myboycharlie, Sydney winner, earner $173,010) and Exciting Prospect (Distorted Humor gelding, Singapore winner), the only named foals from Butters, an American winner at six furlongs who is by El Prado, the sire of Medaglia d’Oro and Artie Schiller. Like El Prado, Foxplay is a grey.
Foxplay’s grandam Our Fair Lady, a winner at nine furlongs in America, is by the Nureyev sire Theatrical and is one of eight winners from Eliza, the champion American 2YO filly in 1992. Winner of the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies and Santa Anita Oaks and runner up in the Kentucky Oaks, she is by the Blushing Groom sire Mt. Livermore and is the third dam of Golden Lad, a Medaglia d’Oro dual Group 2 winner.
Black Heart Bart third leg of Family trifecta
BLACK HEART BART’S powerhouse win in the Group1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 27 not only confirmed this Western Australian bred 6-year-old gelding’s stature as one of the best performers of this time, but it was the third leg of a trifecta in 24 hours of winners for his immediate family.
The sequence opened on the Friday when Bruce McHugh’s Red Ransom stakes performed sire Arlington (Tamalee Stud,Tamworth NSW) had his first winner in the shape of Little Arli, a first crop 3-year-old successful at Canberra.
It was an effort followed mid afternoon on the Saturday by success in New Zealand’s first Group1 race of the year, the Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hastings, by Kawi, a 6-year-old gelding by Arlington’s illustrious half-brother Savabeel (stands on $100,000 at the Waikato Stud), the Zabeel Cox Plate winner and Victoria Derby runner up who has been the champion New Zealand sire for the last two years, and then Black Heart Bart’s success.
Arlington and Savabeel are two of eight winners produced by Savannah Success, a Success Express NZ Bloodstock Filly of the Year and a half-sister to Sister Theresa, the At Talaq (USA) Brisbane winner and Queensland Oaks fourth who is the dam of Black Heart Bart and grandam of Western Australian stakes winners Rebelson (by Snippetson) and Rebel King (Universal Ruler). As At Talaq and Red Ransom are by Roberto, Black Heart Bart has two close bloodline connections to Arlington.
Now earner of over $2.2million and in the Darren Weir stables in Victoria, Black Heart Bart has raced 32 times, the first 18 in the West, for 13 wins (1000m-1400m), nine seconds and two thirds. He narrowly missed winning all his six starts, all in majors since January 1, appearances progressively in the Newmarket (Flemington, head second), Victoria Handicap (Caulfield, won), All-Aged Stakes (Randwick, head second), The Goodwood (Morphettville, won), Stradbroke (Eagle Farm, nose second) and the Memsie (won by 1.25 lens).
The only black type earner from Sister Theresa, a mare bred in Queensland by Glenlogan Park Stud and deceased at 18 in December 2012, Black Heart Bart was passed in at $16,000 and a reserve of $20,000 when submitted by his breeders, Durham Lodge Stud at Muchea WA.
Durham Lodge, now known as Scenic Lodge, at that time stood Black Heart Bart’s sire Blackfriars, a Robert Sangster Swettenham Stud bred and raced Danehill Victoria Derby winner.The Jeremy Smith headed Scenic Lodge stands Blackfriars this year on $13,200, a fee that appeals as real good value for a sire who looks a very good prospect to capture the Western Australian title for sixth successive year.
Not only should Black Heart Bart make further contributions, but predictably Blackfriars will have many other winners. A good indication was a winning treble, all Durham Lodge – Scenic Lodge products at Perth’s Belmont Park on August 17, a double at the same track on August 31 and another at Northam on September1 and also a winner in Perth on Saturday.
In 2015-16 represented by 87 winners (84 Aust, 6 SWs, 4 SPs) and earners of $5,234,834 ($5,131,895 Aust), Blackfriars is a brother to Larrocha (won South Australian Oaks), Waterford Road (Kilmore Cup, Werribee Cup, sired winners in Queensland), Lions Gate (Geelong Classic), Manton (winner, second MVRC Moonee Valley Vase) and Champion of Danes (two wins) and a three-quarter to Great Tradition, a Rock of Gibraltar mare producing for Adam Sangster at Swettenham Stud at Nagambie.
Their dam, deceased Sydney Welter winner, Storm Queen second and Oaks third Kensington Gardens, was by the Sir Tristram Victoria Derby and Caulfield Guineas winner Grosvenor and from Tilly Foster, a daughter of Vice Regal and Gentle Thoughts, by Ardistaan (GB) (Charlottesville).
Gentle Thoughts is a relation of Darci Brahma (Danehill NZ champion at two and three and sprinter at four), Ethereal (won Melbourne and Caulfield Cups, Mr Prudent (first and second, Sydney Cup, second Melbourne Cup), Ilumquh (won Caulfield Cup, third Melbourne Cup), General Command (won Sydney Cup, Metropolitan) and Straight Draw (won Melbourne Cup), to mention a few.
The youngest of this Group, Darci Brahma is a current prominent New Zealand sire from use at The Oaks Stud at Cambridge. He had two winners at the meeting at Caulfield on August 31.
Arlington winner attracts bonus for breeders
BRUCE MCHUGH, a former leading Sydney bookmaker and Sydney Turf Club chairman who also has had some good results from breeding and racing, has had much enjoyment in the Sport of Kings down through the years, but one of the most pleasing was the victory of Little Arli, a 3-year-old gelding, in a1000m event at Canberra on August 27.
McHugh is not the breeder or owner, but got satisfaction from the achievement of Little Arli because he is the first of what should be a long list of winners for the first sire he has stood at stud, Savabeel’s multiple stakes performed half-brother Arlington.
This imposing looking near black son of the distinguished dual hemisphere used Roberto sire Red Ransom
is now a resident at Bruce McHugh’s new Tamalee Farm Stud on the fringe of Tamworth in north western NSW. It is his first season at Tamalee Farm, but follows on four by arrangement with McHugh at Nick Posa’s Lincoln Farm Stud at Blandford in the northern end of the Hunter Valley.
Arlington had a high fertility of 94.0% 2012 and 91.8% 2013 and already has over 200 foals on the ground including 85 in his first crop from 100 mares returned to the Stud Book. Only one of these is a grey and this is Little Arli, the runner who became Arlington’s first winner when successful by half a length (4yo Classic Conquest) and 1 ¾ lengths (5yo Janis) in the eleven runner event at Canberra.
The favourite in the race, his second appearance, Little Arli is trained at Canberra by Ron Weston and John Nisbet for six owners, including his breeder, E.J. Phillips. He has grey colouring on both sides maternally, his dam, Ebony Fair, being by Kenfair, a top Sydney 2-year-old by Kenmare, and from Ebony Tudor, by Grosvenor. The first four dams have all been grey.
Little Arli’s sire Arlington is standing this year on $4,400, but as a celebration of his first winner, bookings are being accepted up to September15 at half this amount. Contacts are Ken Blanch 0407 936 978 or Bruce McHugh 0411 549 999.
White family’s huge contribution to Hunter Valley breeding
FEW families made as big a contribution to the emergence in the 1800s of Australia as a major centre for thoroughbred breeding than the one founded in the Hunter Valley by James White, an Englishman who came out in 1826 and was the overseer for the Australian Agricultural Company, one which originally had nearly half a million acres of coastal country in the Karuah Valley (Hunter Valley) and Manning River region.
James White has permission from the Company to acquire his own properties and he went on to possess a pastoral empire, much of it, including Edinglassie near Muswellbrook and Timor Station in the Murrurundi district, in the Hunter Valley.
On his death in 1842, his estate was split equally among seven sons and a surviving daughter, all at that time under 14. The family went on to own other properties in the Hunter Valley, including Belltrees (still in the family), Waverly and Segenhoe in the Scone district, Martindale and Merton, both not far from Denman.
White’s eldest son, also named James, at 16 took over the management of the Estate, making his headquarters on Edinglassie. He later established one of the great cradles of breeding, the Kirkham Stud at Cobbity near Camden, and bought Newmarket, the historic stables on what has been for nearly a hundred years, the Inglis Sales centre.
Also, one of the most celebrated racehorse owners in Australian history and chairman of the Australian Jockey Club for nearly ten terms, the Hunter Valley born James White was eulogised in a Sydney Morning Herald obituary following his death at 62 in July 1890 in connection with horse racing thus: “Mr White’s name was a household word throughout the Australia colonies, and his upright and honourable career on the turf for upwars twenty years earned for him the esteem and respect of all classes.”
This obituary and other reviews on him and the White family dynasty are included within the hundred pages of a new publication, History of Thoroughbred Breeding in the Upper Hunter Valley compiled by W.P. ‘Bill’ Howey, himself a migrant who in his fifty years here has become from his base at Scone an icon. Now retired, he has served as a venerated veterinarian, Scone racing leader, shire councilor and also an author.
Howey has published two books, one on Hunter Valley veterinarians and now the History of Thoroughbred Breeding. He has packed much within the covers of the latter, besides the Whites dealing with the contributions to Hunter Valley of Potter McQueen (established Segenhoe in 1823 – now Vinery), personalities George Ryder (Woodlands Stud) and Stanley Wootton other studs including Widden, Baramul, Holbrook (all Widden Valley), Arrowfield, Yarraman Park, Sledmere, Kia Ora, Cressfield and more recently Newgate Farm (former Brooklyn Lodge), Coolmore (on former Arrowfield) and Dubai owned Emirates Park (Murrurundi) and Darley (Kelvinside, Aberdeen).
Printed by Hunter Valley Printing, Scone, W.P. Howey’s The History of Thoroughbred Breeding in the Upper Hunter Valley is available at a cost of $25 plus postage if required from Hunt A Book, 200 Kelly Street, Scone, 2337, phone (02) 6545 9716 or email email@example.com. Copies are also available at the Scone Visitor Information Centre.
Mass ownership package recalls success of racing company
FIFTEEN HUNDRED of the lovers of racing, whether they were at the meeting at Rosehill on April 11 1981 or viewing or listening offcourse, assuredly rose and cheered when Food For Love, a Lunchtime filly, was narrowly beaten in second place by the Kaoru Star colt Full On Aces in the Golden Slipper.
The reason for the extra enthusiasm of so many at the win was that they all owned her.Trained at Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley by Pat Farrell and ridden by his apprentice Wayne Harris, she ran for the historic Australian Racing and Breeding Stables (ARABS), Australia’s first, and possibly the world’s, stock exchange listed company.
A project developed in 1970 by George Ryder, principal at the time of what challenged as Australia’s top stud, Woodlands, Hunter Valley, a leading racing administrator with the Sydney Turf Club and the father of the Golden Slipper, it gave investors the opportunity own collectively stable of well bred young horses for a small outlay.
The same mass ownership principle applies to a package launched 45 years after the birth of ARABS, one under the banner of the Yarramalong Racing Club Ltd, a company headed by prominent Queensland breeders and owners Richard and Joan Foster.
It offers the opportunity to share the ownership of 33 horses owned by the YRCLUB for investment as low as $2,000 (larger amounts welcome). Investment covers the ownership of all 33 horses and total expenses incurred during their racing career.
The 33 horses are a high quality collection of current 2-year-olds, including offspring of Sebring, So You Think, Stratum, Hinchinbrook, Shamus Award, Eurozone,The Factor, Rothesay, Lope de Vega and Congrats, to mention a few. They are in the hands of senior trainers including Bjorn Baker, James Cummings, Mick Price, Mick Kent, John Thompson, David Pfiefer and David Vandyke and YRCLUB shareholders could be enjoying ownership shortly.
The horses can be viewed at yrclub.com.au, a website which has a lot of information about the Yarramalong Racing Club, an ongoing ownership company.
Brian Russell’s nostalgic farewell to veteran magazine
SORROWFULLY, I bid farewell to a magazine that has served the breeding and racing industries for some sixty years. I refer to Racetrack, a high quality publication published in recent years six times annually by Andrew Speedy.
My nostalgia at the closure of Racetrack flows from a ten years association I had with the magazine in my half century as a professional writer on thoroughbred breeding, a career which began in1963 at NSW Country Life, a weekly stock journal now absorbed by The Land,.
In 1971 I moved to Racetrack as bloodstock breeding editor with the view to developing an extensive breeding section. It was then owned by its founders, Arthur and Rita Thorn, owners also at that time of the Kentucky Stud at Richmond NSW.
The Thorns stood My Own, a winner on the flat and over jumps in England and a six years younger brother of four times Champion Australian Sire Better Boy. My Own only had modest success as sire, except for Coolalinga, $500 yearling who won the Newmarket at Flemington in 1974.
In 1982 I established my own publication, the Australian Bloodhorse Review, one which now has new owners and is the leading Australian breeding magazine under the name of Blue Bloods. I make a modest contribution to each monthly edition, but primarily concentrate on production of my own publications, the Australian Thoroughbred (sent 24 to 30 times annually by email to over 3000 in breeding and racing) and Blood On The Track (sent weekly to over 70 media outlets). The copy in Blood On The Track also appears in the Australian Thoroughbred and some of it on national breeding websites . We will also distribute clients’ promotional material on its own or with the Australian Thoroughbred by arrangement. Enquiries welcome.
The Brian Russell publications are produced at my office at my home at 67 Brecht Street, Muswellbrook , Hunter Valley solely by myself, except for parttime office assistance by Lesley Moore, a friend of over forty years. A daughter of the late Jack Johnston, owner of the Tyrone Stud at Scone, Lesley also helped when the Bloodhorse Review was established at Scone in 1982. She was secretary of the Scone Race Club for some years when it operated on the since supplanted White Park racetrack and also of the Scone Horse Festival committee.
The closure of Racetrack was the second national media reviewer of breeding and racing to close in August. The other, has been Phil Purser’s Just Racing, a website that has stirred in Queensland for over twenty years.
Brian Russell email firstname.lastname@example.org
2016 Ready To Run Sales
SYDNEY October 4, Inglis Bloodstock, 256 2yos
GOLD COAST October 11-12, Magic Milions, 343 2yos
NEW ZEALAND November 16 – 17, NZ Bloodstock
The leading independent provider of thoroughbred pedigrees Australia and New Zealand
Family details up to six generations, sire statistics and much more
Easily accessible through your computer – arion.co.nz
THE AUSTRALIAN THOROUGHBRED IS A FREE NEWS SERVICE
EMAILED TO OVER 3000 IN BREEDING AND RACING
Advise if want to be removed from mailing list
A Century of Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Excellence
By Brian Russell
Two of the colts walked from Percy Miller’s Kia Ora Stud in the Segenhoe Valley near Scone to the railhead at Aberdeen in 1943 for shipment to Sydney for the Inglis Easter Yearling sales were the Midstream Colts Shannon and Murray Stream. Shannon ranks as one of Australia’s greatest milers and overseas exports. After winning races in California in world record times he went to stud and sired good winners before premature death at 14. Shannon and Murray Stream were among hundreds of winners bred by Miller in thirty years in the first half of last century. At the time Kia Ora challenged as the biggest and most successful source of winners in the world and on occasion they took over 100 yearlings to the Easter sales. Sent down several months before the sale they were either led or driven to the rail station and loaded in special horse boxes on trains. Off loaded at Sydney’s Darling Harbour they were then led in the early hours of the morning out to the paddocks then encompassed by the Inglis sale yards at Randwick. Besides Shannon and Murray Stream the horses bred on Kia Ora at that time included Windbag (won the Melbourne Cup in Australasian record time), Delta (won Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate, Victoria Derby), Hydrogen (won the Cox Plate twice) and Amounis (won 33 races and for a short time was Australia’s leading money earner).
One historic galloper who wasn’t sired on Kia Ora although they often get the credit is Peter Pan, winner of the Melbourne Cups of 1932 and 1934. He was bred by Rodney Dangar of Singleton from a mating with Pantheon, the import who finished third in the 1926 Melbourne Cup and stood initially at the Kingsfield Stud. Moved next door to Kia Ora the next year Pantheon got Peter Pan from his one season at the Kingsfield Stud, one which subsequently had much of its country swallowed up by Glenbawn Dam. His dam may have been railed to Aberdeen and then walked to Kingsfield.
Kia Ora was part of a 10,000 acre grant in a valley served by the Hunter and pages Rivers provided to English businessman and politician Thomas Potter Macqueen in the early 1820s after it had been surveyed by Rodney Dangar’s grandfather Henry Dangar. Established for him by Peter Macintyre the valley was called Segenhoe after Macqueen’s birthplace Segenhoe Manor. In 1826 they stood the first thoroughbred sire in the Hunter Valley, and England bred stallion named Crawford. As they were very likely a few mares in the region as early as 1820, the Hunter Valley is on the eve of 200 years as horse breeding country.
One of the greatest Hunter Valley bred horses of early last century was the 1916 foaled Beauford, winner of 17 races. He ran four times against the icon performer Gloaming and beat him twice. He was bred by the Mackay family, owners for over half a century of the Tinagroo Stud northwest of Scone. It is then owned by a branch of the Macintyre family and latterly acquired by locally bred David Paradice. Another branch of the Mackay family produced in the Upper Hunter Royal Sovereign winner in 1964-65 the AJC, VRC and QTC Derbies and second in the Caulfield Cup. One of their properties joined the Sledmere Stud at Scone, the one on which Sailor’s Guide was raised. He followed up wins in the Victoria Derby and Sydney Cup by being awarded the Washington DC International in America after being second across the line to Tudor Era. In the same year that Beauford was foaled a horse produced on Camyr Allyn on the southern side of Scone went on to be a giant of Australian racing. He was Eurythmic and he won 31 of his 47 starts including top races in Perth and Melbourne.
A rival of Eurythmic and Beauford was Poitrel a winner of the Melbourne Cup under 10 stone (63.5 kgs). He was bred by the Moses brothers then owners of Arrowfield now Coolmore near Jerrys Plains. They were leading breeders for 20 years early last century and included among the horses they bred was Heroic, an outstanding galloper and seven times champion stallion. Bred on Widden one of his sons Ajax won 18 races straight. One of the early champions raised by the Moses on Arrowfield was Poseidon (1903) but they bought him as a foal at foot with his dam off Rodney Dangar when he broke up the Neotsfield Stud near Singleton in 1904. As a 3-year-old Poseidon won 14 races including the AJC Derby, Victoria Derby, Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup and VRC and AJC St Legers. He backed up to take the Caulfield Cup again at four but could only manage to finish eighth under the burden of 10 stone three pounds in his second Melbourne Cup.
In the same decade that Poseidon won the Melbourne Cup the great staying test was taken out by four other Hunter Valley bred horses namely Lord Cardigan (won at three in 1904 and a close second to another Hunter runner Acrasia in 1905), Lord Nolan (1908) and Prince Foote (1909). Lord Cardigan and Lord Nolan were both bred and raced by Maitland identity John Mayo and were by Dangar’s imported sire Positano a son of the world’s leading of early last century St Simon. Positano also sired Piastre (won the 1912 Melbourne Cup) and Mooltan (second in 1907).
The biggest source of winners in the Hunter Valley in the quarter century 1950-75 was the Woodlands Stud. In that era it was under the stewardship of George Ryder, father of the Golden Slipper, and good sires including Newtown Wonder and Pipe of Peace. For 20 years to the mid-1980s Woodlands in the ownership of the Ingham brothers, became one of the biggest breeding operations in the world. One of the horses they bred and raced was Lonhro, an Australian Horse of the Year and a champion sire.
Several years ago the Inghams sold out their thoroughbred empire to Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a ruler of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and one of the world’s leading stud, broodmare and racehorse owner for a price reportedly close on half a billion dollars. He had already established the Darley Stud near Aberdeen and is now a huge force as an owner with the former Scone horseman Peter Snowdon as his champion trainer for a while. Darley is one of the big players in a revolution in horse breeding and racing that has elevated the Hunter Valley in the current century into one of the world’s greatest thoroughbred regions both in the quality of the products and the showplace appearance of the studs. They include two of the world’s biggest ever thoroughbred operations, Darley/Godolphin and Ireland headquartered Coolmore, John Messara headed Arrowfield, Vinery (formerly Segenhoe), Emirates Park (also Dubai owned), Widden and newcomer Newgate Farm.
The Hunter Valley’s use of visiting sires took off in 1990 with the debut appearance of Danehill, a champion European 3-year-old sprinter who went on to be the Australian champion sire a record nine times and to become the biggest force in Australian thoroughbred breeding history.
I wish to also dedicate this modest tome to my good friend Brian Russell as well as ‘Bim’ Thompson
Looking back on 55 years reviewing breeding
Australian Thoroughbred March 22nd. 2018
It is with much remorse that I announce that, after writing extensively on thoroughbred breeding for 55 years, I am heading off to pasture, at least as far as regular reporting is concerned. Now coming up to my 88th year and in deteriorating health, I am cutting back production of my email distributed publications Blood On The Track and Australian Thoroughbred following mail out of current editions.
Blood On the Track, a scaled down version of the Australian Thoroughbred sent to media outlets, ceases publication altogether and the Australian Thoroughbred hibernates, after a review, hopefully, of the 2018 Golden Slipper and Doncaster meetings, until at least mid year. My plans for the future, if able after a good spell, is to research and write some history of Australian sires of last century and also review new sires.
In consequence, I have taken the opportunity to publish a review of my long innings as a writer on thoroughbreds and my lifelong love of the horse. Born in September 1930 at Trundle, a small centre west of Parkes in western NSW, six weeks before Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup, and raised on my father’s farm, I developed that love of the horse at an early age, but never dreamed I would end up spending over half a century writing about them.
The writing career began when in 1960, shortly after ten years on country newspapers, I joined the editorial staff of the NSW Country Life, a now defunct national weekly stud stock newspaper, as a sub editor and in late 1962, following the death of their widely respected thoroughbred breeding reviewer Frank O’Loghlen (wrote under the name of Eurythmic), became the new producer of section.
After seven years in this position, I spent ten as Bloodstock Editor of very popular monthly magazine Racetrack, one which has now also ceased to be published. Struck down in 1972 by an illness that left me ever since dependent on walking aids, I went into semi retirement at Scone. Here in 1982 I launched a monthly magazine under the name of The Australian Bloodhorse Review, now conducted as Bluebloods by Andrew and Margaret Reichard, and in 1984 transferred to Richmond NSW. It can justifiably claim to be one world’s leading show windows for thoroughbred breeding, one to which I have been asked to continue to contribute an occasional article.
In the early 1990s, I retired back up to the Upper Hunter and have been living with my wife Deidree at Muswellbrook for the past quarter century. It was here that I developed the email publications Australian Thoroughbred (an extensive mailing list of over 3200 people in breeding and racing) and Blood On The Track.
Breeding reviewing has been a love of my life, providing me with the opportunity to visit and promote studs in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and southern Queensland. In the process I viewed such great sires as Star Kingdom, Wilkes, Better Boy, Showdown, Delville Wood, Biscay, Bletchingly, Vain, Marscay, Smokey Eyes and Danehill, to mention but a few.
My first big race meeting was Doncaster Day at Randwick on Easter Saturday 1948.There were 83,000 in attendance and the big race was won by The Diver, a son of The Buzzard (GB) trained by Queensland’s iconic Tim Brosnan and strapped by his son Terry. The latter later became a very respected Sydney trainer.
From 1963 inclusive for over the next quarter century, I rarely missed a Sydney Saturday or holiday meeting, thrilling to the performances of Golden Slipper heroes Vain, Eskimo Prince, Baguette, Luskin Star and John’s Hope and to the prowess of Gunsynd, Kingston Town, Octagonal, Lonhro and so many others that make racing a pinnacle of enjoyment.
In the 1960s, I attended five Melbourne Cups, stirred in particular by the two horse war between Light Fingers (the winner) and Ziema in the last 100 metres of the 1965 edition.
On the Sale front, until the end of last century, I promoted and attended all the majors at Inglis Newmarket centre at Randwick and in 1987 played a major role in the promotion of the inaugural Magic Millions Yearling Sale at the Gold Coast. That sale, one that had only 200 yearlings, produced one of its most important products, Snippets.
In an official capacity, I promoted and covered my first yearling sale in 1963, the Inglis four day Easter sale, one which saw new national records set for aggregate (546,905 gns), average (1,031 gns) and most number sold at six figure prices, 1,000 gns to a top of 7,000 guineas.
The sale top price was paid twice for colts by Newhaven Park’s champion sire Wilkes (Fr), one of them, a three-quarter brother to queen of racing Wenona Girl, won the Champagne Stakes and finished second to Eskimo Price in the Slipper under the name of Farnworth. A representative of the first crop of inaugural Slipper winner, Todman, Eskimo Prince was also in that catalogue, selling at 6,200 guineas. A guinea is the equivalent of two dollars ten cents.
The highest price at that 1963 sale should be less than the bottom price at the Inglis 2018 Easter yearling sale, but there has been a huge change in money values.
VERY GRATEFUL: I am very grateful for the support lovers of breeding and racing have given me in my 55 years and the help I have been given by my friends, including Jennifer Churchill and the Land’s current thoroughbred editor Virginia Harvey. Also my production in the last three years has been helped greatly by my friend of half a century Lesley Moore. Born and raised at Scone, Lesley also helped me when I launched the Australian Thoroughbred in the early 1980s. I knew both Lesley’s father, Jack Johnston (deceased) and his father, iconic Hunter Valley horseman Scott Johnston. Both trained and bred on their Tyrone Horse stud, a few minutes drive north of Scone. Jack, by the way, stood Never In Doubt, the last son of Nearco imported to Australia. Lesley was secretary of the Scone Race Club, then at the town’s White Park, for nearly 12 years, and also an early secretary for the early 1980s established Scone Horse Festival committee.