‘Honey Gold’ Across the Harbour Bridge in Style!

‘Honey Gold’ Across the Harbour Bridge in Style!

Featured Image: Miss Taia de Burca on ‘Honey Gold’ when living at Vaucluse in 1959

Entirely out of the blue I recently received a most welcome old fashioned letter from Ms Taia de Burca who now lives in retirement in the Blue Mountains. Taia was @ ‘The Australian Stud Book’ with Keeper Jim McFadden in the ‘good old days’ and was an outstanding employee in administration. Taia’s letter was one of those truly electrifying and uplifting moments which so rarely occur!

According to Taia ‘Honey Gold’ affectionately known as ‘Honey’, ‘was an absolute treasure with legs of steel, metal hooves and you couldn’t tire her out’.  In 1959 as a young girl Taia rode ‘Honey’ from Vaucluse through the city to Bobbin Head over the Harbour Bridge via Turramurra and back again two weeks later; all at dead of night under cover of darkness with only one stop for a bucket of water each way! Taia and Honey had to start very early in the morning to be over the Harbour Bridge before the trams started trolling! There were trams on one side and trains on the other! This story beggars belief but is indubitably true! It ranks right up there with the Olympic Spring Valley Horse Rides from Broome WA in 2000 which also spanned the Harbour Bridge; albeit under rigidly controlled circumstances. ASHS Upper Hunter Valley ‘royalty’ led these charges; Joy Poole from Singleton ‘North’ and Neville Holz from Lemington ‘South’.

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Peter Snowden humbled to join Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame

Peter Snowden humbled to join Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame

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Peter Snowden humbled to join Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame | Newcastle Herald | Newcastle, NSW

Featured Image:

INDUCTEES: Trainers Peter Snowden and Pat Farrell with popular racing personality Gary Harley and former jockey Alan Scorse after their induction on Tuesday at Newcastle Racecourse.

Picture: Max Mason-Hubers


I wish I could have bent there! I should have been but major neoplastic surgery ‘got in the way’. It couldn’t wait and I missed out. No matter! It was a great show because Sam North gave me a great run down. I’ll leave it to Craig Kerry to tell the tale.

Peter Snowden has risen to the top echelon of Australian racing, winning 41 group 1s and two Everests.

But he’s never forgotten where he’s from.

Snowden was honoured and humbled to be included in the Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame on Tuesday as part of the third induction ceremony.

Born and bred in Scone, Snowden was a former jockey turned trainer there before heading to Sydney more than 30 years ago to further his career. He has since been a regular visitor to Hunter tracks and was on hand at Newcastle Racecourse on Tuesday to accept his place in the hall alongside veteran Muswellbrook trainer Pat Farrell.

“I love going back home,” Snowden said. “If you don’t forget where you come from, I think it helps keep your feet on the ground all through your life and it has for me.

“It’s where I grew up and to have people think I’ve done something that’s worthy of a mention, I’m chuffed about that. I’m humbled to be mentioned along with those names and the people in the hall already.”

Farrell claimed eight consecutive Newcastle premierships from his base at Muswellbrook and he has trained more than 2500 winners. He said it was a great honour to join the hall alongside friend Snowden.

In the associate category, popular racing commentator, broadcaster, writer and form analyst Gary Harley was inducted along with the late Bob Dawbarn. Harley said it was “very humbling” to be named alongside “superstars” of the sport.

“Some of the others inducted today are a lot better known and successful in their field than me, but I’ve been coming to Newcastle racecourse for 60 years, and had 40 years as a racecaller all around the Hunter Valley,” Harley said. “Since I’ve joined Tabcorp and Sky, I’ve loved the job there. [Wife] Sue and I need the work and I’ll just keep going until I can’t go any longer.”

Dawbarn gave 44 years’ service as a steward then an administrator.

In the jockey section, two-time group 1 champion Alan Scorse was inducted alongside the late Rae “Togo” Johnstone, a Newcastle born and apprenticed hoop who went on to ride three English Derby and two Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe winners between 1945 and 1956. Scorse said it was great for his wife, Sharon, to see him join her father, the late Roy Hinton, in the hall.

“It’s an honour just to be in with the jockeys that I’m in with – Wayne Harris and Robert Thompson – they are legends, then John and Bill Wade, and then Togo, with what he did,” Scorse said.

In the horse section, group 1-winning Paul Perry sprinter and world famous sire Fastnet Rock joined his former trainer in the hall, along with Newcastle-owned 1970s star Romantic Dream.

Fastnet Rock won the Lightning Stakes and Oakleigh Plate before going on to become Australia’s champion sire twice. He has so far sired 41 group 1 champions.

Romantic Dream, owned by Newcastle’s Les and Col Cook, claimed five group 1 or principal races in the late 1970s.

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Legendary Lester @ Scone Races 1995

Legendary Lester @ Scone Races 1995

Featured Image: Lester Pigott on ‘Windeyer’ at Scone Races on April 7th 1995. ‘Windeyer’ was trained by local trainer Phil McLeod

I remember the day as if it was yesterday. My good mate Hilton Cope and I were the Judges at the newly opened Scone Race Track. Lester was staying with Hilton & Marilyn at ‘Kelvinside’, Aberdeen. ‘Windeyer’ was Lester’s only mount on the day and did not run a place! He joined Hilton and I in the Judge’s Box for the remainder of the day. It was a far cry from winning the Epsom Derby on ‘Never Say Die’ as an 18 year old in 1954! I was then an 11 year old on our small farm at Hepple, Northumberland, England. Dad was a punter; and he backed the winner! It was ‘drinks all round’ at the Turks Head Hotel in Rothbury where mine host Mrs Margaret Laidlaw operated as an ‘illegal’ SP Bookmaker! It was a favourite haunt of Dad’s.

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