George Ryder

Ryder, George Edward (1905–1989)

Featured Image: Bob Hawke, Neville Voigt, T J ‘Tommy’ Smith and STC Chairman George Ryder at the presentation of the 1979 Rosehill Christmas Cup won by ‘Sungazer’. ‘Sungazer’ 1975 was by Sun Prince (ire.) out of Dritta (Fr.) and stood at Alan Atwill’s Redbank Stud at Scone. He was unsuccessful as a sire. See: Sungazer Horse Pedigree (

By Wayne Peake

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Foreword (by the author WPH)

Featured Image: Bob Hawke, Neville Voigt, Tommy Smith and STC Chairman George Ryder at Rosehill Races

An erudite lady friend of mine with a deeply profound knowledge of the industry has written:

Thank you also for the article about GER. I’ m amazed that a man from such humble beginnings and such a paucity of education could rise to become a Captain of Industry.  Australia certainly is the land of opportunity where labor omnia vincit!  Love J…y.

I think it would be fair to claim that all four men assembled in the Featured Image were ‘from humble origins’? The Prime Minister, Champion Trainer and Chairman of the Sydney Turf Club might slightly shade outstanding jockey Neville Voigt from Quirindi; but not by much? As an immigrant I think it speaks volumes that all four are able to stand together equally on the podium in celebration of a seminal event?

Tommy Smith stated categorically that George Ryder was the best man for racing in his time. Who am I to argue? He was a great friend of Scone and the Scone Race Club although ‘controversial’ at times! He was the most stimulating company and a brilliant raconteur. I’m proud to have known him. The following biography by Wayne Peake captures the man superbly. There are some ‘not for publication stories’ which could richly enhance the encomium! It’s my opinion that George Ryder competes with Stanley Wootton for the title of most influential thoroughbred racing entrepreneur in NSW during the second half of the 20th century. Some might argue his influence was detrimental to the ‘breed’? Among his mantras were ‘put speed to speed and prey they stay’; ‘there are no looking races’ and ‘we need horses that fly around saucers’. He might have been thinking of the STC’s Canterbury Racecourse when promulgating the latter? I heard him say it when he was searching for a son of Dr Fager (USA) to stand at Kia Ora.

See also: See also:

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Minnamurra (Outback) 1990

Minnamurra (Outback) 1990


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:

Greg Bennett (Photo Alister Jones) & Horses at Belltrees (Photo Michael White): Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society; ‘Moving Images and the Theatre’ (See above)


David Stratton in The Avocado Plantation described this production as “almost Snowy III” in story line and a “mob of horses galloping across country at the climax”.

One local identity who played a big part in the production was Greg Bennett, who tells the story of his involvement:

“In September of 1987 I was approached by John Sexton Productions, to assist with the making of the movie Outback. The film was to be funded by American money and was to include a number of American actors, as well as some Australian actors.

“My initial involvement was to assist in location management; i. e. finding the correct locations to suit specific areas of the script.

“Belltrees was chosen for many of the locations, mainly because the property lent itself well for livestock and staff accommodation.

“The story of the movie, which was later called Minnamurra, involved the gathering together of a large number of Remount horses to be sent by ship to South Africa to help in the war effort during the Boer War. One family was in financial difficulty at the time following the death of the owner of the property. His daughter took it upon herself to deliver the horses ti the wharves of Sydney for shipping to South Africa.

“My second and most important involvement with Minnamurra was to locate 250 horses and to help with their training, feeding and transportation from one set to another.

“Heath Harris, who has been involved in many Australian Horse Movies, was the horse master, and I assisted with the day-to-day care and welfare of 250 horses on the movie set.”

Another local involved with Greg was Steve Van Hemert.

The Producer was John Sexton; director Ina Berry and photography in the charge of Ross Berryman.

The Premier, attended by a large crowd of locals and visitors, was held in the Civic Theatre, Scone in 1990.

Pages River Races @ MURRURUNDI 1844

Pages River Races @ MURRURUNDI 1844

Featured Image: Acknowledge Murrurundi Community Portal

The bustling town of Murrurundi has always had a relationship with race horses. In its heyday there were four racetracks which have subsequently been swallowed up by events. Here are the results of an August race meeting in 1844.

The Page’s River Races came off on Wednesday and Thursday, the 14th and l6th Instant. The weather was very wet, and the course in bad condition for racing. The following is the result of the races:-

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Bridget “Bud” Hyem

Bridget “Bud” Hyem

1964 Olympic Memories

Bridget Macintyre was born at ‘Kayuga’ Muswellbrook and educated at Kayuga Primary and New England Girls College. Bridget won numerous equestrian trophies in Australia between 1940 and 1960 including Junior Girl (Sydney Royal Easter Show and Melbourne Royal Shows), Champion Lady Rider (Royal Easter Show), and Champion Showjumper on “Coronation” (Royal Easter Show). At the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo Bridget “Bud” Hyem became Australia’s first female rider to complete in an Olympic Equestrian event (Showjumping) aboard “Coronation”. Intriguingly Bridget billeted with legends Betty Cuthbert and Dawn Fraser in the Tokyo Olympic Village. The men were allowed to stay with the horses but women had to be ‘chaperoned’ in care within the village!

Hyem produced champion hack “Bon Accord” (Bred by Mr and Mrs Mackay) and was owner-breeder of 1979 Australian Showjumping Champion “Red Rocket”. Bridget’s many other horse breeding success stories include “Kibah Tic Toc” which carried Black Hill rider Matt Ryan to Double Gold at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and “Kibah Sandstone” which Matt rode to Gold Medal victory in Sydney 2000. Bridget received special dispensation from SOCOG in order to ride ‘Kibah’ retired ‘Tic Toc’ on her leg of the Olympic torch relay through Gunnedah in 2000 rather than run or walk.

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Kingsfield Stud

Kingsfield Stud

The story of Kingsfield Stud on the Hunter River only a few short kilometres upstream from Aberdeen provides a snapshot of the history of the thoroughbred breeding industry in the Upper Hunter throughout the 20th century. Ian Ibbett has again provided an accurate early histoire of the birth, progress and eventual egress of the property.

Featured Image: ‘Rossendale’ at the Kingsfield Stud (Sydney Mail & Ian Ibbett)


“When Joe Brien (nee O’Brien) established the Kingsfield Stud, near Aberdeen on the Upper Hunter in 1913, he entertained high hopes for his dual Derby winner, Beragoon, as a prospective stallion.  Beragoon joined Malt King there and, great performers though they were on the racecourse, neither stamped their progeny with their own particular quality.  Consequently, in 1921 on a visit to England, Brien was on the market for a prospective stallion to boost his stocks, provided he could secure him at the right price.  Just how fortunate he was in acquiring the black St Frusquin stallion, Rossendale, for 600 guineas on that trip was not readily apparent at the time.  E. E. Coussell, the Secretary of the British Bloodstock Agency, cabled Cecil Brien, the son who was managing Kingsfield while his father conducted his world tour: “Rossendale shipped by Persic on the 22nd; bought by Brien, of Kingsfield.  He is a good individual, 16 hands high, with 9” of bone; a horse of rare quality, with a lovely disposition, and is a sure server.’”

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Holbrook Stud and the Harris Family

Holbrook Stud and the Harris Family

In 2019 Julie Harris was awarded the ‘Murray Bain Service To Industry Award’ by the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association. Julie was the most deserving of recipients; acknowledgement at last of the enormous contribution made by the Harris Family. Her mother Mrs Madge Harris had also been recognised with her award of Scone Horse Festival VIP.

The HTBA awarded it’s 2002 President’s Medal conjointly to Alan & Madge Harris

John Harris was an inaugural Committee Man of the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association formed in 1978 (then the HVTBBA). He was also President of Denman Race Club and Councillor with the Denman Shire Council.

Richard Harris was Secretary of the Muswellbrook Race Club (then UHRC) and the Queanbeyan Jockey Club. He bred 1970s champion Lord Dudley (by Right Honourable II) from his AJC Oaks winning mare Jane Hero.

See also and acknowledge:

Featured Image: Persian Lyric and Ray Selkrig (Racetrack Magazine)

Holbrook Stud

An association by the Harris family with much of the country at the south western end of the Widden Valley offshoot of the Hunter Valley which commenced over 150 years ago ended in March 2007 with the completion of the sale of their property named Holbrook Stud by Trevor and Elizabeth Alley. Elizabeth is a daughter of John Harris, one of the three sons of Bill Harris, himself a grandson of the original settler in the middle of the 18th century.

The other brothers are Richard Harris, former secretary of the Muswellbrook race club, and Alan, the owner with wife Madge and daughter Julie of a prominent agistment and yearling preparation farm along the Pages River between Scone and Gundy in the Hunter Valley. The Harris family sold the bulk of the Holbrook Stud, one bisected by the Widden Brook and stretching back to the mountains, late in the 1990s. This left the Alleys with the holding they traded on under the banner of Holbrook Stud on the northern side of the creek and portion of the former neighbouring Oakleigh Stud. This farm has now been secured by the Paynters, the buyers earlier of the Holbrook homestead block, one on which they grow cattle.

The Harris family bred hundreds of good horses over the years on Holbrook for themselves or clients including Easingwold (after winning the Western Australian Derby and St Leger appeared in the first two races for the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, following a second in 1922 with a win the following year), Even Better (three Group1s in Sydney at four, the All-Aged Stakes, Epsom Handicap, Rawson Stakes), Castanea (12 wins included STC Rosehill Guineas-Gr.1, QTC Stradbroke Handicap-Gr.1), Persian Lyric (four Group1 wins at three, AJC Derby, QTC Queensland Derby, Stradbroke Handicap, STC Canterbury Guineas), Jane Hero (AJC Oaks-Gr.1), Lord Dudley (VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes-Gr.1, Australian Cup-Gr.1, MRC Blue Diamond Stakes-Gr.1, Poetic King (MRC VicHealth Cup-Gr.1, Toorak Handicap-Gr.1, MVRC Manikato Stakes-Gr.1) and Prince Darius (Sydney Tattersall’s Chelmsford Stakes-Gr.2 twice, Tattersall’s Gold Cup; second at three in the Melbourne Cup and to Tulloch in the AJC and VRC Derbys), to mention a few.

Even Better, Castanea, Persian Lyric, Jane Hero and Prince Darius were all by the most successful of the many sires used at Holbrook, Persian Book, an England bred son of Pherozshah, a close relation to Nasrullah and Royal Charger who won two races at Newmarket in a six start career. His son Persian Lyric also stood at Holbrook and, although he died in mid age, supplied more good horses out of their paddocks including Regal Jane (successful at Randwick in the AJC Queen’s Cup, Summer Cup and Tattersall’s Cup).

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