Scone Horse Festival Parade 1986

Scone Horse Festival Parade 1986

Featured Image: Carlton United Brewery Heavy Horse Team 1986 preparing for the parade

Terry Goodyear leads the team which was a very special feature of early Scone Horse Festival Parades. I think this was the 2nd such cavalcade and I was actually the second Horse Festival VIP? I’m seated on the left behind Terry. Jack Johnston was very justifiably the inaugural Horse Festival VIP in 1985.

With COVID-cancellation of the Horse Festival Parade in 2021 there are whispers if this event will continue into the future? It’s a very different world to the 1980s. Scone Cup Races are no longer ‘in town’ at White Park. The thoroughbred sales have been ‘abandoned’ leaving a huge gap in what used to be regarded as the building blocks of a ‘Horse Festival’ with 2 days of sales and two of racing. The original idea was predicated first on the old ‘Scone Thoroughbred Week’ which grew out of the first Scone Cup Races and Thoroughbred Sales conducted in 1947. This concept reached a peak through the 1960s and 1970s. The Horse Festival added many other facets some of which might have ‘diluted’ the original winning formula. It’s a lot harder to find unanimous agreement when the ‘number in the tent’ becomes too much of a crowd? Let’s see what a VAXX 2022 might bring to the party? In recent times there appear to have been many more ‘themed’ motor vehicles than actual horses?

Has the horse bolted?

Has the horse bolted?

Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeders Yearling Sales

Featured Image: ‘Horse away’!

The fundamental question is: ‘Has the horse bolted’? Will the 2019 HTBA sale prove to be the last in a long line of successful and economically viable offerings? Both the HTBA and William Inglis & Sons have made the decision to transfer the sale to the Riverside Stables Complex at Warwick Farm ‘in perpetuity’. There are of course many factors at play; not the least of which is COVID-19. However as one of very few original proponents left alive (+ Hilton Cope & David Bath) of the inaugural 1979 sale committee (see below) I confess I rue the decision. I think I’ll leave it there for now? Yes, I am running out of steam; and time!

See also:

https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/upper-hunter-thoroughbred-breeders-society-1951/

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

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

https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/hvbhba-first-annual-scone-sale-1979/

HTBA Yearling Sale 40 Years On

Featured Image: Front cover of the catalogue for the HTBA Scone Yearling Sale 12 May 2019

I could start with yet another hoary old cliché; but I won’t! I decided for no good reason to compare the HTBA promoted yearling sales after 40 years of ‘progress’. I have written about the First Annual Scone Yearling Sale before and elsewhere.

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Countess of Dudley Cup Tournament 1985

Countess of Dudley Cup Tournament 1985

See also: https://www.nswpolo.com.au/Assets/Pages/24/Book-of-History-from-1985.pdf 

Clicking on the URL will download the whole document.

Featured Image: Front Cover of the NSW Polo Association (Kyeemagh) Limited’s publication ‘Countess of Dudley Cup Tournament 1985’; A short history of the polo Clubs of NSW and their participation in the Countess of Dudley Cup 1910 – 1985

Acknowledge: NSW Polo Association (Kyeemagh) Limited 1985 Patron, President, Directors and Committees; especially Mrs S R Weedon (nee Bragg, ‘Rossgole’, Aberdeen 2336) who compiled the dossier. Sally’s father Frank Bragg and brother Arthur Bragg were notable players.

Anecdote

“In 1913 Narromine won the Dudley Cup. By way of celebration, history has it that at the “Black Tie” official dinner after the final game, as the presentations by the Governor General (The Earl of Dudley) were taking place, George Mack crept outside to get his horse which had won Champion Pony. He brought it into the room as the officials were preparing for the presentation and he quietly tied his horse’s tail to the tablecloth. On receiving his pony trophy, he mounted his pony, in full dinner suit, and rode out of the hall, taking with him the tablecloth, flowers and all the silver”.

Simply not done old chap? Well, not at Hurlingham perhaps but maybe @ Narromine! I must remember to ask George Mack of ‘Weemabah’, Trangie if this is true of his grandfather when I next him next?

Comment

Sally’s impeccable record is a gem. Admittedly Polo was the chosen sport of the ‘Exclusives’ as opposed to the ‘Emancipists’. As an impecunious immigrant pommy I would say that wouldn’t I? I did marry into the milieu and my spouse Sarah is closely related to Bill Mackay (Great Uncle), Bob Mackay (Father), Ken Mackay (Uncle), Jamie Mackay (Cousin) and Jock Mackay (Jamie’s son).

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/the-mackay-skene-family/

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/perfect-polo/

Scone Cup Presentation 1968

Adjuncts to ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’

With webmaster Teresa Herbert’s very able assistance I have just managed to launch my monograph series entitled ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’. No sooner had I completed the upload than I discovered some notable omissions. This is my none-too-subtle attempt to redress the balance and partially retrieve the errors? One thing that strikes me is that there is a certain ‘dignity’ which used to prevail? Maybe we have lost something; or am I simply an even more irrelevant old curmudgeon?

Featured Image: Presentation for Scone Cup 1968, 9 furlongs, Saturday 15th June 1968, won by ‘Income Tax’; owned by Messrs S N Nivison Snr and A S Gill; trained by R Martin, Walcha; ridden by B Hill; by Epistle (imp) ex Expensive; Black, Yellow Sleeves, Lilac Sleeves and Cap; won by 3 lengths and 1 length from Zozima (W Wade) and Blue Bette (J Ollerton). Time 1 min 51.7 secs.

This was my first Scone Cup having arrived ‘down under’ on 03/10/67. Simon Nivison became a good friend. He bred and raced Golden Slipper winner ‘Inspired’ (1984). Spouse Jill (nee Tait) co-bred and owned champion stayer ‘Tie the Knot’. Sir Alister McMullin helped me a lot. He owned ‘St Aubins’, was President of the Senate (Canberra) and first Chancellor of the University of Newcastle. Harry Hayes was a ‘local legend’ and very prominent citizen. It helps to know a few; especially if you’re ‘Ten Pound Pom’!

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Scone Lightning Stakes 1963

Adjuncts to ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’

With webmaster Teresa Herbert’s very able assistance I have just managed to launch my monograph series entitled ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’. No sooner had I completed the upload than I discovered some notable omissions. This is my none-too-subtle attempt to redress the balance and partially retrieve the errors? One thing that strikes me is that there is a certain ‘dignity’ which used to prevail? Maybe we have lost something; or am I simply an even more irrelevant old curmudgeon?

Featured Image: Presentation for Scone Lightning Stakes 1963, 5 furlongs, Wednesday 15th May 1963,  won by ‘Playpen’; owned by Messrs F W Thompson & F L Bragg; trained by Eric Flett, Scone; ridden by George Moore; by Edmundo (imp) ex Joy Restraint; Gree, White Sleeves and Cap; won by half a length and a neck from Blazeden (P Burnett) and Grand Apple (W Rowbottom). Time 62.7 secs.

Bim Thompson succeeded his father as master of Widden and achieved ‘greatness’ in attracting leading sires Todman, Lunchtime, Vain (Champion), Bletchingly (Champion) and setting it up for ‘Marscay’ (Champion). George Moore (owner of Yarraman Park) rode ‘Royal Palace’ to victory in the 1967 Epsom Derby (England). Frank Bragg and Harry Hayes were both Alpha-male identities in racing as was Derek Glasgow (AJC).

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Scone Lightning Stakes 1968

Adjuncts to ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’

With webmaster Teresa Herbert’s very able assistance I have just managed to launch my monograph series entitled ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’. No sooner had I completed the upload than I discovered some notable omissions. This is my none-too-subtle attempt to redress the balance and partially retrieve the errors? One thing that strikes me is that there is a certain ‘dignity’ which used to prevail? Maybe we have lost something; or am I simply an even more irrelevant old curmudgeon?

Featured Image: Presentation for Scone Lightning Stakes 1968, 5 furlongs, Saturday 15th June 1968,  won by ‘Friendly Joy’; owned by Mr H R Hayes; trained by Victor Oakes, Muswellbrook; ridden by Bill Wade; by Nautilus (imp) ex Joy Zone; Pale Blue, Purple Sash and Cap; won by 2 lengths and 1length from Star Bright (M Eveleigh) and Gynbeau (J Ollerton). Time 59.3 secs.

John Inglis was the ‘rock’ of the thoroughbred industry and a great friend to Scone. Harry Hayes and Bill Wade were both ‘champions’ and shared common ground throughout the Newcastle Hunter & Central Coast Racing Association. Miss Margaret Johns was a ‘champion filly’ from Newcastle who married locally. Her father Dr Kevin Johns was on the NJC Committee with Harry Hayes and Roy Mahoney.

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Australian Bloodhorse Bulletin September 1975

Australian Bloodhorse Bulletin September 1975

Featured Image: Semi-final sires’ statistics for the 1974-75 season

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/sire-premiership-tables-2014-2015-to-2019-2020-as-at-13-04-2020/ Read in conjunction!

This ephemeral publication was the ‘bible’ for thoroughbred breeding and racing aficionados at the time. The AJC Racing Calendar was the other. It was published roughly quarterly by the Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association of Australia.

Admittedly this is strictly not comparing identical ‘like-with-like’ but the stark trends are there. The most significant ‘drift’ is to be found in the overall numbers. Representation on the race track for stallions today is as much as 8x the average 40+ years ago. Clearly this is reflective of the number of mares covered by the leading stallions in any one season. Remarkably the aggregate number of individual 2yo winners was established by Without Fear the following year (1975/1976) with a grand total of 30. This record still stands today although recently challenged (but not surpassed) by both Snitzel (2019/20 = 28) and I Am Invincible (2018/19 = 27); each of whom covered at least 4x/5x the number of mares in any one season.

The leading sires list features Oncidium (NZ) as leading the tribe. While I can count c. 9 NSW-based sires Convamore (Segenhoe) is the highest ranked at six. There are almost as many NZ-based sires in the first 20 as there are NSW-based stallions.

My fundamental question is: “How will all this impact on the diversity of the ‘national herd’ of thoroughbred broodmares in the longer term”? Are we heading for a genetically narrower collective ‘camarilla’ of more modern speedy squibs?

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Without Fear & QE II in 1976

Without Fear & QE II in 1976

Featured Image: ‘Without Fear’, Colin Hayes and Queen Elizabeth II at Lyndsay Park on 26 February 1976

These were heady ‘Royalist’ times with imperialism not yet fully consigned to the scrap heap of history. Queen Elizabeth II has always been intensely interested in thoroughbred racing and breeding. She has enjoyed enormous success herself with some assistance from the National Stud; a unique UK institution. Isn’t it fortunate that King Charles II took such an avid interest himself and virtually ‘created’ the Newmarket myth?

In 1976 imported sire Without Fear (Baldric ex Never Too Late) was a sensation at Lyndsay Park in the Barossa Valley SA with his first crop of 2yos. He created a record then with 30 winning individuals racing in the 1975/1976 season. The record still stands despite the claims of the ‘Snitzel’ ‘set’ in season 2015/2016. Colin Hayes was the master strategist. He orchestrated the entire program. However Without Fear also produced many outstanding individuals such as champion filly ‘Dual Choice’.

The Australian Government of the day under Malcolm Fraser decided to present QE II with the slightly sycophant gift of a Without Fear yearling to celebrate her 25th jubilee as ruling monarch. It seemed like a ‘racing certainly’ at the time and sure fire success? However despite the best brains having input to its selection “Australia Fair’ subsequently proved to be an abject failure as a racehorse and something of an embarrassment with such a well-branded name?

Royal Hub-capping II

Royal Hub-capping II

With my tongue firmly embedded in my cheek I wrote a rather brazen ‘blog’ on Royal Hub-capping featuring a Polo chukka at the old Yarrandi Polo Ground in 1966. Matching it on the paddock were HRH Prince Charles and local ‘squire’ John Archibald of ‘Dunwell’. I knew one of them.

See: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/royal-hub-capping/

I’ve just discovered another occasion when HRH connected on the Polo grounds; on this occasion at the Isis River Club. Brenda ‘Bra’ Ogilvy was then very much part of the scene.

Featured Image: Brenda Ogilvy (NZ) and HRH Prince Charles exchange pleasantries and replacement Polo sticks. I wonder what was said?

Brenda always was and still is ‘well grounded’; please excuse the intended pun? Although then wedded to events at Belltrees Brenda has now relocated to ‘Glorious Gundy’ (no relation to ‘Goodwood’) and a fully fitting job at Bengalla Mine, Muswellbrook. She is/was also fundamental in arranging ‘Mental Herd Health’ sessions for local farmers et al on Friday evenings at the Linga Longa all during the record drought. I was greatly honoured to be the invited guest speaker at one of them.

Prince Charles was not the first member of the Saxe/Coburg/Gotha tribe to visit Scone. His great grandfather preceded him in 1901.

See: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/duke-of-york-visit-to-scone-1901/

The essential elements of Royal Hub-capping I were:

It would be hard to top a future monarch as a social coup, wouldn’t it? This is exactly what the Scone Polo Club (who else) was able to do on more than one occasion. HRH Prince Charles had attended school at the ‘Timbertop’ campus of Geelong Grammar. ‘Wing Nut’ knew what to expect. He was the appreciative recipient of the special hospitality provided by the White Family of ‘Belltrees’.

My good friend Racehorse Trainer Pat Farrell of Muswellbrook was the first to introduce me to the sobriquet ‘hubcap’. It derived from those he perceived as ‘hanging around the big wheels’. He applied it to a local Stud Master who he thought was always a trite ‘uppity’. He called him ‘Hubcap Jack’. There were some good reasons for this appellation. Pat also referred to the professionals who resided at Skellatar Heights as living on ‘Snob Knob’ or ‘Pill Hill’! Maybe Pat had a bit of a complex? He was described as being of ‘Bog Irish’ appearance if that’s a clue?

Prince Charles was just ‘one of the boys’ in this scenario and fitted in beautifully. My spouse Sarah was introduced to him on this occasion as an ingénue of 14 years. Sadly she had to settle for very much less almost 10 years later! I think my mother-in-law was devastated?

Incredibly (for those interested in history) ‘Yarrandi’ was the property visited by the ‘Birdman’ John Gould and his wife Elizabeth in 1839. The property was then owned by Elizabeth’s brothers from Kent; the Coxens.

I don’t know what Pat Farrell would have called HRH Prince Charles if he’d met him? It was never likely. He did come up later with an even more derogatory nick name: ‘Tow Bar’ as in bringing up the rear or hanging off the coat tails of the upwardly mobile! I could list a few. The great thing about Pat is that he never considered himself to be part of any underclass!

White Park Finale 24/10/1994

White Park Finale 24/10/1994

Featured Image: The Judge’s Tower on the final day of racing at the old White Park Racecourse in Scone on 24/10/1994

From L to R: David Bath Jack Johnston    Bill Howey           Hilton Cope

During yet another COVID-19 ‘lock-down’ as I write this (23/08/2021) there is ample time for reflection? I found the ‘featured image’ stored in my online pictures file which someone had sent me. I was actually searching for something else!

The photograph reminded me of how much we had gained; and how much we had lost! As the original protagonist (1980) of the absolute need to find a better racing venue I/we are now in a position to ‘take stock’ of where we are at? Unfortunately COVID-19 has decimated attendance at all sporting venues but we are indeed fortunate that the racing authorities have found a way to continue; albeit without public patronage.

The photo reminds me very forcibly indeed of how much fun we used to have when the elected Committee of the Race Club actually ran things! I was the Judge then and Hilton Cope the Assistant Judge. Jack Johnston was official timekeeper. David had succeeded me as Club President in 1984 and was to lead the Club to its new premises at ‘Tarrangower’, Satur the very next month. Now almost 27 years on the Club does not really function as such. Racing NSW dictates just about everything. It appears we ‘locals’ do not have a look in anymore and the Committee at present is reduced to a virtually impotent total of four. Just musing!