John Flaherty aka ‘Man Friday’

John Flaherty aka ‘Man Friday’

Featured Image: John Flaherty with his richly deserved Murray Bain Perpetual Service to Industry Award taken at the presentation by the Hunter Valley Blood Horse Breeders’ Association (HVBHBA) on Wednesday, May 15 1996. I had the honour of making the presentation. I like to highlight the essential vitally important and indispensable contributions made by everyday workers in the thoroughbred industry.

Mrs Connie Philips won the President’s Award on the same occasion. At the time of writing (26/03/19) Mrs Philips is still with us but in ‘compromised’ high care at Strathearn Village Aged Care in Scone. A gentleman never discloses the age of a lady but she is well advanced in years. In cricketing parlance will soon reach a most important milestone. Mrs Phillips is actually the very final link to ‘Baramul’ and Star Kingdom; although I recently made the same remark about the late Noel Hennessy.

In my manic book on ‘The Infinitive History of Veterinary Practice in Scone’ I paid the following tribute to John Flaherty.

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Our Forgotten Racecourses

Our Forgotten Racecourses

Featured Image: NSW Country Racecourses 1991

John Ryan: AJC Racing Calendar 1991

“The universal love of horseracing in Australia is shown by the large number of meetings every year. There is scarcely a township in any one of the colonies, which has not its annual event. The principal reason for this is the abundance of good horseflesh and the number of good riders as there are few persons residing in the country who cannot mount a saddle. Under such circumstances a love of the turf is natural.” Australian Sportsman 1881

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Upper Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders’ Society 1951

Upper Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders’ Society 1951

Featured Image: Section of the large crowd in attendance at Tuesday’s (1951) sale of thoroughbred horses on White Park, Scone. The sale was conducted by Wm Inglis Pty Ltd (Sydney) and Pitt, Son and Keene Pty Ltd (Scone). The horse being offered is one of the Kingsfield Stud lots that went under the hammer, amongst a total of over 200 lots.

See also:

http://sconevetdynasty.com.au/bold-scone-venture/

http://sconevetdynasty.com.au/hunter-thoroughbred-breeders-association-scone-history/

Research has revealed that a meeting convened in Scone on 31st November 1951 led to the formation of the Upper Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Society.  Present at that meeting were Chairman G.A. Christmas (Oak Range), L.R. Morgan (Redbank), A.H. Young, Scott Johnston (Tyrone), R.M. and J. Bowcock (Alabama), A.W. (‘Bert’) Riddle (Kia Ora), Cliff Duncombe (Kingsfield), W.M. Bate, R.A. Basche (Aluinn), and Noel Hall (Cressfield).  Apologies were received from F.W. Thompson (Widden), L.B. Israel (Segenhoe) and J.W. Johnston (Tyrone).  The stated objectives of this embryonic society were to promote the thoroughbred racing industry in the Upper Hunter.  Presumably, this association did not have a long lifespan as it appears to have fallen into liquidation within the decade.  This may well have been attributable to the (also) recent formation of the Bloodhorse Breeders Association of Australia (NSW Division) some of whose major protagonists were common to both committees.

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Noel Hennessy and Star Kingdom

Author’s Comment: Wednesday 20th March 2019.

Today this ‘blog’ has just exceeded 1000 ‘hits’. This is BY FAR the greatest number of any strikes in about 20 months of extant life on my website. I owe much of this ‘popularity’ to the HTBA. Thank you Cameron and Julianne!

However the most remarkable facet is the extraordiany and enduring attraction of the ‘Star Kingdom’ legend? I had no idea this would be so popular!

I’m thrilled!

WPH 20/03/19

Noel Hennessy and Star Kingdom

Featured Image courtesy of Peter Pring ‘The Star Kingdom Story’ (The Thoroughbred Press, Sydney)

Noel Hennessy passed away in Denman early Saturday morning 9th March 2019. He is possibly the ‘last link’ to the great Star Kingdom? He was with him at ‘Baramul’ when he died on 21st April 1967.

Journalist Brian Russell released the following eulogy:

Death of last handler of Star Kingdom

Noel Hennessy, an iconic Hunter Valley horseman who has died at Denman at the age of eighty, may have been the last person to see and handle Australia’s most influential sire of last century, Star Kingdom, before he died on April 21 1967 at the Baramul Stud in the Widden Valley. Maitland born Hennessy had joined the staff at Baramul in 1957, a stud then owned by Sydney solicitor Alfred Ellison, and as stud groom cared for Star Kingdom for the last nine years of his life. He also looked after Todman, the son of Star Kingdom who won the inaugural Golden Slipper, when he stood at stud at Baramul, and the awesomely brilliant Biscay, both as a foal and as a sire. Biscay stood briefly at Baramul when he retired from racing. Among other horses grown under Hennessy’s care at Baramul were champion Star Kingdom filly Citius and Todman’s Golden Slipper winning son Eskimo Prince. In recent years Noel Hennessy has been living in retirement at Denman.

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Peep into the past 1925

Peep into the past 1925

Featured Image: The Scone Advocate; ‘Peeps into the past’; November 1925

For approximately 150 years the Scone Advocate has been the ‘eyes, nose and ears’ of the Scone and district community as well as its historic reliquary and knowledge repository.  To its great credit it has established some remarkable and lasting initiatives. One of these was the ‘Peep into the past’ series it launched to look back with nostalgic fervour and perhaps even romantic ardour on times long gone.

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The old timer who knocked the dust off some Good’uns

The old timer who knocked the dust off some Good’uns

Harley Walden 2005

Featured Image: Willie Plomer; one of Scott Johnston’s best gallopers

He was addressed as “Clancy” – the fellow immortalised by Paterson because he has a drovin’ gone – as he joined the young blokes, who found time to shift their gaze from the coloured sheets of the Turf Form. The old-timer joined in the discussion in his usual quiet, yet evidently, interested manner.

“Wouldn’t Earl Pentheus have a chance?” was his only reply, or question, in answer to one of the party, as he proceeded to finish the rolling of a cigarette. “What do you know about horses anyway?” was a direct shot from one of the lads.

“I knocked the dust from a few scrubbers in the bush in my time,” and pausing to apply a match to the cigarette, added nonchalantly, “And one of them took the Denman Stakes at Randwick”.

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Ken Howard: Prince of Race Callers

Ken Howard: Prince of Race Callers

Featured Image: Hilton Cope and Ken Howard at White Park Racecourse, Scone on Saturday 5th June 1976

The caption reads:

Discussing the progress of Saturday’s Trainers Day race meeting were the “Prince of Race Callers” Ken Howard, and new race club committeeman, former jockey Hilton Cope. Ken Howard received a standing ovation for his description of the Ken Howard Intermediate Cup and greatly pleased the committee with his offer to return again next year.

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The Breeding Scene & the Melbourne Cup

The Breeding Scene & the Melbourne Cup

By Harley Walden 2005

Featured Image: Peter Pan in the AJC Autumn Plate at Randwick in 1935. Peter Pan won the Melbourne Cup in 1932 and 1934

Whenever a new champion arrives on the racing scene or a new stud opens its quest into the breeding arena memories are rekindled of a stud that produced so many great racehorses. In this article I have outlined the deeds and connection Kia Ora Stud, Scone had with Australia’s premier staying race, the Melbourne Cup.

Since its foundation as a breeding property in 1912 the famous thoroughbred nursery over the next fifty years could be described as the doyen of other noted properties. It has featured in the principal races of Australia and the USA but its importance in the Melbourne Cup must be particularly stressed. The latter is the main distance handicap on the racing calendar.

Thirteen years after Percy Miller founded “Kia Ora” and under the spectacular management of A W (Bert) Riddle, “Kia Ora” produced the mighty Windbag the winner of many WFA races culminating in a record breaking win in the 1924 Melbourne Cup. Windbag, by Magpie (imp.) from Charleville was a real tonic for the Scone district.

Three years later another Melbourne Cup winner merged from the same establishment. This time it was Statesman by Demosthenes (imp.) from the imported mare Marcelle. A number of years since the Statesman year, in which all three placegetters were reared on “Kia Ora”, the second horse was Strephon by Saltash. Strephon was rated good enough to ship to England to throw down the gauntlet to the best horse racing in the old country; unfortunately he failed to acclimatise and never produced his Australian form. The third placegetter, Demost, was also by Demosthenes.

Other notable Cup horses owe their existence to the famous Upper Hunter breeding establishment. Foremost among these would be Peter Pan, bred by Mr Rodney Dangar of “Baroona”, Singleton, but certainly sired by, although not at the time of conception, by a “Kia Ora” based stallion, Pantheon (imp.), himself placed third in the two-miler as a six-year-old carrying 9st 3lb (58.5kg) in 1926. Peter Pan won the cup as a three-year-old in 1932. The following year, 1933, “Kia Ora” again figured in the placegetters, this time Mr Bob Miller’s colt Tropical dead-heating for third with the New Zealander, Gaine Carrington.

In 1934, this time under extreme conditions, Peter Pan was again victorious carrying 9st 10lb (61.5kg).

Five years further on and we find Maikai and Pantler, both sired by Pantheon, filling second and third places respectively. Maikai, form Western Australia, suffered a narrow defeat by Old Rowley in the 1940 running of the major handicap. Nineteen forty-six saw yet another “Kia Ora” product figure in the prizemoney, this time, Carey by Midstream (imp.) finished in third position.

The year 1951 saw the mighty Delta by Midstream (imp.) from Gazza by Magpie (imp.) successfully carry Neville Sellwood to victory.

“Kia Ora” by this time was becoming known world-wide as the greatest horse nursery in the Southern Hemisphere, but it was to rise to still greater heights by 1956 when Evening Peel by Delville Wood (imp.) from Mission Chimes by Le Grand Duc, another Kia-Ora import, reigned supreme in the great two-mile event to defeat the New Zealand great Redcraze.

Baystone, in 1958, by Brimstone (imp.) from Unity by Manitoba (imp.) was the final Kia-Ora bred to take the two mile stayers’ classic bringing to an end a domination that had run for near on 35 years.

In these latter years of Australian racing and breeding where the pendulum has swung to the sprinting breed of racehorse it is highly unlikely that what this world acclaimed stud achieved in those early years will ever be achieved again. Any stud capable of producing the number of Melbourne Cup winners as “Kia Ora” did, and standing the sire of Peter Pan, a dual cup winner and producing nine placegetters, surely highlights the astute managerial plan behind the production of so many high class performers.

Footnote: I believe ‘Cambridge Stud’, Cambridge, NZ might mount a challenge to the number of individual Melbourne Cup winners produced?

Cradle of Thoroughbreds

Cradle of Thoroughbreds

Douglas M Barrie 1953

Featured Image: ‘Hector’: From a watercolour impression by author Douglas M Barrie

Australia’s first organised race meeting was held in Hyde Park, Sydney on Monday 15, Wednesday 17 and Friday 19 October 1810.

Seventeen horses competed for the main events, besides “several matches held between ponies.” Further meetings were held in 1811, 1812 and 1813.

After the crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813, exploration commanded the energies of the leading citizens. Race meetings recommenced again in 1819, although it was not until 1825, when the first Sydney Turf Club was formed, that racing in Australia really went ahead.

There were a number of good stallions on the mainland early enough to beget our first competitors. Best of these was the English horse Northumberland (imported in 1802) and his sons Percy, Hotspur and Young Northumberland; also Rockingham (imported in 1799) and Washington (imported ex-America in 1802). Besides these were several stallions from Oriental sources, such as Campbell’s Shark and the same owner’s great early sire Hector. The majority of importations prior to 1820 were of Arab origin.

Stride, imported in 1822, and Steel Trap, in 1823, led the influx of great English blood, which has not since ceased. From this time breeding increased rapidly. Bloodhorses were required not only for racing; they had a vital role in the development of the Continent.

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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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