Jack Kelso RHKJC Steward

Jack Kelso RHKJC Steward

Scone has a close historical link with the ‘colonial era’ Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club (RHKJC) now known as the vastly successful Hong Kong Jockey Club.


Jack Kelso became Stipendiary Steward for Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club in 1958 living in Repulse Bay for 6 years. In 1962 Mr J. Kelso was appointed Clerk of the Course of the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club and also a Stipendiary Steward.

The Chairman commented; “We must all regret that the Club did not do this before. Mr J. Kelso is an Australian with a good record as a successful trainer in New South Wales”. Jack Kelso was also handicapper and Clerk of Course until 1967.

John ‘Jack’ Kelso was born at Redfern on 6th October 1905. He was one of five children produced by his parents; namely William Edward, Frederick Charles, Beryl Jean, Francis Alan and Jack. Young Jack was firstly an apprentice jockey and then like his father and grandfather before him a trainer. Jack married at St Jude’s Church, Randwick on 26th August 1925. He ran a horse transportation business in Sydney until buying property in ‘Meandara’, Queensland in 1946. Jack Kelso worked all over the State as a Stipendiary Steward at country race tracks. It was a ‘baptism of fire’!

Jack’s grandfather William ‘Bill’ Kelso won the Melbourne Cup in 1928. The following article appears on Trove:


“The Melbourne Cup, Australia’s premier horse race, for a stake of £10,000, run over two miles at famous Flemington this afternoon, was won by Statesman, a four-year-old son of Demosthenes. He is owned and was trained by Mr. W. Kelso, of Sydney. The winner was ridden by J. Munro. ‘Strephon’ the Victoria Derby winner was second, and ‘Demost’ third. Statesman started second favorite at seven to two, the favorite being ‘Strephon’ at nine to four. ‘Demost’s’ price was forty to one.”

Jack and Mrs Kelso returned to Scone raising horses on his son John’s studs “Timor Creek” and “Blandford Park” until his death on 23rd. August 1999. Jack Kelso was a long term committeeman of the Scone Race Club chaired by his son John along with Lionel Israel and Harry Hayes. Jack and I served as the Scone Race Club delegates on the White Park Committee. Jack’s verbal jousts with Jim Fuller (Rodeo) and both Bob Robb & Herbie Phelps (Golf Club) were the stuff of legend! Some mature pepper trees along the railway line obstructed the view of the 1400 metre chute for race patrons. Mysteriously the trees died. “They got a virus” said Jack. It might have had something to do with the ‘Tordon Axe’ an unknown assailant had wielded a few days before? There were no witnesses! I rest my case.

Jack lived in the corner house at the Kingdon Street/Main Street intersection for about 30 years. It was a far cry from Repulse Bay but conveniently close to the ‘Thoroughbred Hotel’ and not too distant from the RSL Club. Bobby Dunn at the Tyre Service was a very good mate. Chris Winter tells an apocryphal story of a gift of beautiful silk handkerchiefs Mrs Kelso brought from Hong Kong after attending the RHKJC centenary as special guests in 1985. Jack unceremoniously dumped them on Bob saying with a peremptory flourish: ‘The Mrs says see if these fit around your snozzle’! Jack was very well placed in the ‘Snozzle Stakes’ himself; he was known by many as ‘Rudolph’! Jack’s final barrier allocation was in the Dumaresq Wing of the Upper Hunter Village Association; now ‘Strathearn’. He was 94.