Kings of the Turf

Kings of the Turf

See: http://kingsoftheturf.com/

Yesterday (26/07/18) I was talking with good mate Graham Harper at the ‘Men’s Shed’ in Scone. I was the enforced labourer assigned to pick up my wife’s refurbished desk. The men did a great job. Graham was quite excited. Knowing of my addiction to turf history he told me he’d uncovered a fantastic story on ‘The Rebarbative John Brown’. I like the word’ rebarbative’. You can insult someone without their really knowing it? Graham had my immediate attention. I was rapt. I’ve been concentrating on the Hunter Valley. The Coal Baron Browns were certainly up front and central in the early days.

I arrived home and successfully unloaded the restored desk without deleterious incident. I googled (new verb) the title. Straight away I discovered an absolute treasure trove of historical racing information. Ian Ibbett has done a superb job; and what a task! You can find all this by clicking on the URL above. You’ll find an ‘Introduction’, ‘Prologue’ and ‘Contacts’. Then the fun really starts. It’s a Magnus Opus (Latin I think). Ian has based his story on ‘A History of the AJC Derby from 1861 to 1977’. It’s monumental, complete and colossal.

For some time I’d been searching for information on Royal Sovereign, the triple Derby Winner who was bred by my wife’s great Uncle F K ‘Darby’ Mackay. It’s all there; in spades. Then I scrolled down to find information on the Thompson Family of Widden (1904). The late ‘Bim’ Thompson was groomsman at our wedding. It’s perhaps demeaning to claim that this online goldmine fills in all the gaps; but it does. Reading through this will take me some time. I’m greatly looking forward to the task. My next move will be to alert my very good friend racing and breeding journalist Brian Russell. Only last week Brian (88) became a resident in an Aged Care Home in Denman. I know it’s an excellent establishment. Brian will be able to compare notes with John Harris formerly of ‘Holbrook Stud’ in the Widden Valley.

Thank you Graham Harper for the introduction; I’m hooked!

Royal Sovereign

Royal Sovereign

Featured Image: Royal Sovereign and Ray Selkrig returning to scale after the AJC Derby 1964 (AJC).

The full text and photographs pertaining to Royal Sovereign can be accessed at Ian Ibbett’s excellent historical series (May 15 2018) which I duly acknowledge:

http://kingsoftheturf.com/1964-a-pretender-crushed-a-sovereign-crowned/

Note: Royal Sovereign was bred by my wife Sarah’s great uncle F K ‘Darby’ Mackay. He is unique in winning not only the AJC Derby but also the VRC and QTC Derbies in the same racing year 1964/1965).

The 1964 A.J.C. Derby field and race conditions appear in the table which can also be viewed on the website above. Keith Banks who rode Cranleigh (NZ) which failed to finish in the field of ten is now a Scone resident.

Continue reading →

RIDE FOR A CURE – AUSTRALIAN POLO PLAYERS TAKE ON THE MONGOL DERBY

Ride For A Cure – Australian Polo Players take on the Mongol Derby

The Mongol Derby

http://www.globetrotting.com.au/ride-for-a-cure-australian-polo-players-take-on-the-mongol-derby/

Image credits: Ride for a cure, The Adventurist

Prologue

Like the reviewer quoted below I also know these fine young men and their families. I also know there is one very nervous grandmother just up the road in Susan Street Scone! We all wish them well as they begin their count down to the great ride. It’s intriguing to speculate that Angus Paradice from Scone has already completed a ‘rite of passage’ adventure in Mongolia as a schoolboy. Angus is now enrolled at West Point Military Academy in the USA. Ed Archibald enjoys a close working relationship with Angus’ father Scone-bred local David Paradice. The Mongolian ponies might not measure up to the intrepid quadrella’s polo mounts; but they are bred to go the distance.

The Mongol Derby is a 1,000 kilometre race across Mongolia’s Steppe and is known for its gruelling days of hard riding to meet each checkpoint. This year, four Australian polo players are taking on the trek in the name of MS research and for an influential man in their lives. The polo players are none other than top riders Ed Archibald, Rob Archibald, Jack Archibald and Henry Bell and will be heading off to Mongolia in August to compete. I know these men personally and I know they have the courage and determination to conquer this ride.

But first, what is the Mongol Derby? As mentioned above, essentially it’s a one thousand-kilometre endurance race across the Mongolian Steppe. This trek follows in the footsteps of the horse messenger system set up by Genghis Khan himself in 1224. It is known for being the world’s longest, hardest and most difficult horse race in the modern world! It is so gruelling that the horses are changed every 40 km and so the boys will be riding over 28 horses to complete the ride! The terrain varies from mountain passes to open valleys to floodplains and more and the polo players will not only have to conquer that but also the mental aspect. It is such a demanding ride that in its 10th year of running, only while 300 people started the ride, only HALF of them actually finished the race!

So why put yourself through this? Rob Bell was the father and uncle of these polo players and serves as an inspiration to them. Rob suffers from Primary Progressive MS (PPMS), which has left him wheelchair bound but he was a fine horseman and loved to be on the horse and looking between the ears. MS stands for multiple sclerosis and affects the central nervous system by interfering with nerve pulses, the brain, spinal cord and optical nerves. It affects 23,000 Australians every year and 15% of them suffer from PPMS. It is a horrid disease that makes the simplest activities into a chore. When Rob Bell was younger, he dreamed of going on a horseback safari or something similar so son Henry Bell and nephews Jack, Rob and Ed Archibald are doing this in his honour and to raise money to find a cure.

The boys are amazing riders and even more incredible people that will put their heart and soul into riding and finishing this demanding trek. They are aiming to raise over $100,000 (that’s $100 for every kilometre) and if you would like to donate to this worthy cause you can check out their website down below! Follow their journey via Instagram!

Reference: A Ride for a Cure and MS Australia 

Keeneland Concept: “A Dream That Could Be Realised”?

Keeneland Concept: “A Dream That Could Be Realised”?

Featured Image: Keeneland Racecourse

On an earlier occasion I wrote a detailed account of the evolution of a new racecourse at Scone. I called it ‘Dreams’. This is an excerpt focusing on our pathway emulating the ‘Keeneland Concept’ in the United States. We wish? Like I said before all comparisons are odious.

See: https://www.keeneland.com/

On one of his frequent visits to the Upper Hunter Valley, Emeritus Professor Rex Butterfield, President of the Australian Equine Research Foundation and Keeneland (USA) representative in Australia, remarked on the similarity of events at that time to the genesis of the “Keeneland Concept” in Kentucky in 1936. The date was sometime in the early 1980’s and the Upper Hunter was witness to a flurry of activity in the development of thoroughbred racing and breeding in the district, possibly unprecedented, even in the benchmark industries so important historically to the locality.

In his concluding remarks addressed to a mass meeting of breeders and others interested in racing at the Lafayette Hotel on Wednesday afternoon March 20, 1935 Major Louie A. Beard said:

“This may seem like a dream, but I believe it is a dream that can be realised”. The Thoroughbred Record (USA): October 10 1936.

Continue reading →

Comparisons Are Odious: Newmarket?

Comparisons Are Odious: Newmarket?

Featured Image: Newmarket Official Guide Front Cover

I’m not the first. The earliest recorded use of this phrase appears to be by John Lydgate in his Debate between the horse, goose, and sheep, circa 1440:

“Odyous of olde been comparisonis, And of comparisonis engendyrd is haterede.”

It was used by several authors later, notably Cervantes, Christopher Marlowe and John Donne.

In ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, Shakespeare gave Dogberry the line ‘comparisons are odorous’. It seems that he was using this ironically; knowing it to be a misuse of what would have been a well-known phrase by 1599 when the play was written.

I’m also guilty as charged. I facilitated a meeting at the Australian Stock Horse Society on Thursday 12th March 2009. It was entitled ‘Australian Horse Centre for Scone’ and the expert commentators were Schreiber Hamilton Architects Kevin Schreiber and Justin Hamilton. I was then an extremely ‘fired up’ recently inducted Upper Hunter Shire Councillor. I very quickly mellowed! At the meeting I was perhaps over-enthusiastic in drawing comparison between Newmarket, Suffolk, England and Lexington, Kentucky USA. What we do have in common is/are the large scale production of thoroughbred horses in and on world class Thoroughbred Horse Studs. There the similarities (‘comparisons’) end?

Continue reading →

Business Positive About Bypass

Business Positive About Bypass

Filed in Just In by Elizabeth Flaherty December 9, 2016

Featured Image: Sean Constable with guest speaker Chris Lavis and Vickie Asara at the Chamber of Commerce drinks at the Belmore Hotel.

Prologue

This is a report of the Scone Chamber of Commerce Meeting held in early December 2016. A further meeting was convened recently on Thursday 12th July 2018 which appeared to produce similar outcomes? I was not able to be present for the whole meeting. Much of the proffered dialogue and discussion covered ‘old ground’. Chris Lavis strongly supported and restated his original position. There was also retrospective and even retrogressive commentary from the floor with a few rebarbative remarks? Perhaps we should focus on what comes next as roundly and soundly promulgated by Peter Allen (‘The Thoroughbred’) and others.

Report: December 9 2016

LAST week the Scone Chamber of Commerce met to discuss how they can come together as a business community to face the bypass.

Chris Lavis, owner of Home Timber and Hardware in Scone, Muswellbrook and Branxton shared his experience about how their business not only survived, but thrived after the Branxton bypass.

“We were trading up 8 percent more after the bypass going through, which doesn’t seem like much but considering we also had a Masters and a Bunnings open up within 20 minutes from us so with that in mind it’s incredible to be able to do that and have growth,” said Mr Lavis.

“You do loose some passing trade, but they need to be realistic about how much passing trade they are getting and rethink what their core business is and in most circumstances I think they’ll find they need to have a hard look at their business and be willing to transition and that’s the key you have to look at how you will transition,” he said.

“If you focus on attracting more locals you won’t have to rely on the passing trade as much,” he said.

A study conducted by the University of New South Wales for the Roads and Maritime Services showed after a bypass townships with a population under 2,500 suffered economically, while towns with populations greater than 2,500 benefited, with medium sized towns rather than the larger towns reaping the most benefits.

The study found townships which created a more pedestrian friendly environment in their main streets saw more local people spend more time at local businesses, something Chris Lavis said he saw occur in Branxton.

“It is about making the town and the main street an easy access place, a family friendly, nice, laid back and relaxed atmosphere so that people want to spend more time there,” said Mr Lavis.

“Branxton was a town with a population of 2,000 so it was on that borderline but even myself, my shop was across the road from the bakery and I’d stand there at times looking to cross the road to grab something for lunch and you literally can’t cross the road so you turn around and walk back into the shop and have dried saos for lunch instead,” he said.

“Whereas now businesses like the bottle shop and bakery are still very busy with the passing trade and we have a transfer station for caravans but it is a very nice a relaxed town now where we do find people will park in the main street and they’ll do more of their shopping locally; there are definitely more people spending longer in the town,” he said.

A key to a business thriving post bypass is also how the owners prepare for the transition.

“There was a perfect example of a bakery and a take away shop next to it in Branxton and the take away transitioned straight away they changed their menu, changed their opening hours, put some seating outside and it went from a business before the bypass where nobody wanted to buy it to booming after the bypass, whereas the bakery they didn’t do anything different, they just kept their business as it suffered after the bypass; they then changed some things like the take away shop had done and they are now running a successful shop and have opened a second shop in Huntlee,” said Chris.

“You’ve got to cater to the locals, serve the locals and you’ll generate a loyal client base every week, every day,” he said.

Chris said there were plenty of examples in other towns for how businesses can succeed after a bypass and said it was crucial all businesses unite and be proactive about the change.

“There is often so much energy that can be used trying to fight these things and arguing over the details, but we went into it with the attitude of it’s happening and let’s not waste any time trying to fight it let’s try and get what we need as a business community and as a town and be united,” he said.

“The only way you ca do that is to be positive about the transition,” Chris Lavis said.

‘Berry makes merry to sweet sound of silence’

The Fitz Files

The Sun-Herald

Sunday 23rd. July 2017

‘Berry makes merry to sweet sound of silence’

“A strange and wonderful thing happened in the delightful South Coast burgh of Berry last Thursday, at 8:11pm. Listen! Can you hear it? What? Exactly. Nothing. Silence! A couple of minutes before, they had opened the Berry bypass on the Princes Highway, meaning that the eternal swish of traffic heading south, the trucks, the buses, the cars – and all the air-brakes, the blips on the horns etc. – stopped. The pubs emptied, front doors of houses opened up and down the strip, and out came the peoploids, laughed, sang, lay down in the middle of the main road, and had their photos taken. And a good time was had by all!”

Peter Fitzimons

Thoroughbred 1936

Thoroughbred 1936

Acknowledgement:

Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society; ‘Moving Images and the Theatre’; The Shiralee; Filming in the Upper Hunter; Scone’s Civic Theatre: Heather Ashford assisted by Mary Woodlands: Federation Publication No 1 Scone and Upper Historical Society Incorporated, Scone NSW 2337 Australia. 1997. ISBN 0 949187 14 3. © Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Incorporated. Designed and printed by Pritchard’s Press Pty. Ltd. 206 Kelly Street, Scone NSW 2337.

Featured Image:

Advertisement for ‘Thoroughbred’: Scone Advocate 16 June 1936

Dialogue

In 1935 Percy Miller’s Kia Ora Stud was chosen as the setting for Cinesound Production Ltd.’s film Thoroughbred. Hollywood celebrity Helen Twelvetrees was selected for the star role. Ken Hall was the director. The company “arrived in Scone, cavalcade style” on 19 December 1935. “Miss Twelvetrees was shown to a specially designed suite of rooms at the Golden Fleece Hotel”. The Scone Advocate, 20 December 1935.

Prominent Australians in the cast included equestrienne Violet Scuthorpe, brother Lance Scuthorpe and Arthur Winter of Willow Tree, formerly of Scone. The breaking-in segment of the film was shot in the yards at Kia Ora then managed by Bert Riddle. Violet Scuthorpe ‘doubled’ for Helen Twelvetrees who could not ride. The former was a solidly built brunette and the latter (Miss Twelvetrees) a leggy blond. The make-up artists, creative cameramen and editing (‘cutting’) teams were truly tested to lend the final product an ‘authentic’ ring.

Other celebrities in the cast were Frank Leighton and Nellie Barnes. Hall of Fame and all time great American jockey Johnny Longden appears in the official advertisement both listed by name and in a photograph with star Helen Twelvetrees. I doubt Johnny Longden actually came to Scone; but its just possible? It would be a very desirable connection between the industry in the USA and the Upper Hunter?

Thoroughbred was shown at the Olympia Theatre, Scone on three nights and also a matinee on 23, 24, 25 June 1936 and described in the Scone Advocate as follows:

“Australian in construction, in sentiment, in ideals, Thoroughbred reveals to the whole world the glory, grandeur, and true natural greatness of this wonderful country of ours. It was skilfully directed by Ken G. Hall, Australia’s young “ace” director. The film is of more than passing interest to Upper Hunterites, for Kia Ora, the premier stud of the Commonwealth, many wonderful shots were obtained. These not only embraced the scenic beauties of the place, but the great horses that have helped to maintain the reputation and traditions of the place of Australian turfdom.”

The production cost £20,000 ($40,000) and was premiered at the Mayfair Theatre, Sydney in May 1936.

Into the Straight 1949

Into the Straight 1949

Acknowledgement:

Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society; ‘Moving Images and the Theatre’; The Shiralee; Filming in the Upper Hunter; Scone’s Civic Theatre: Heather Ashford assisted by Mary Woodlands: Federation Publication No 1 Scone and Upper Historical Society Incorporated, Scone NSW 2337 Australia. 1997. ISBN 0 949187 14 3. © Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Incorporated. Designed and printed by Pritchard’s Press Pty. Ltd. 206 Kelly Street, Scone NSW 2337.

Featured Image:

Posters for ‘Into the Straight’: Scone Advocate Friday 4 June 1947 and 30 December 1949

Continue reading →

The Picture Show Man 1977

The Picture Show Man 1977

Acknowledgement:

Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society; ‘Moving Images and the Theatre’; The Shiralee; Filming in the Upper Hunter; Scone’s Civic Theatre: Heather Ashford assisted by Mary Woodlands: Federation Publication No 1 Scone and Upper Historical Society Incorporated, Scone NSW 2337 Australia. 1997. ISBN 0 949187 14 3. © Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Incorporated. Designed and printed by Pritchard’s Press Pty. Ltd. 206 Kelly Street, Scone NSW 2337.

Featured Image:

Scene from Murrurundi courtesy of Hunter Valley News Photography and the above

Continue reading →