Kingdon Ponds Floods in Scone

Kingdon Ponds Floods in Scone

Featured Image: Gratefully acknowledge the source in ‘The Convict Valley’ by Mark Dunn. (SLNSW PXA 3819) Published by Allen & Unwin 2020

I was fortunate to receive a Christmas gift of the book cited above. I devoured it forthwith. I wrote earlier about the township of Scone (‘Invermein’) and its foundation location adjacent to the Scone Lagoon near the Parson’s Gully/Kingdon Ponds confluence. Following many inundations over time the dwellings and business district tended to ‘migrate’ eastwards away from the regular deluging barrages. Also, flood mitigation work was carried out on Figtree Gully in the 1970s which bisected the town eventually dispersing over and through White Park before linking up with Parson’s Gully and Kingdom Ponds to the south.

We have just experienced a recent ‘La Nina’ weather pattern which produced regular flooding in the catchment including the major ‘tributaries’ of Parson’s Gully, Kingdon Ponds, Figtree Gully, Middlebrook and Dartbrook. Not all of this impacts the conurbation. However, the cumulative effect has a profound effect on the community. Those who are mostly affected are the residents of Aberdeen Street and situations ‘westward’ including the larger suburb of Satur. It’s a recurring ‘nightmare’ for some, especially those who have not raised the level of their houses along Aberdeen Street.

The construction of the Scone Bypass has arguably alleviated the impact by forming a mini levee to the northern approaches pushing the Parson’s Gully surge away from the populated areas, at least as far as Liverpool Street. Those residents on the south-western side of Aberdeen Street might view it differently. We can be quite sure it will all happen again in the not-too-distant future. Will we be ready?

Why 2YO Racing Has a Place

Why 2YO Racing Has a Place

The ‘Breednet’ website is one of my favourite hobbies and an enduring addiction. It provides comprehensive categories of up-to-the-minute statistical information on thoroughbred racing and breeding. Tara Madgwick often raises topical issues of pivotal interest. Racing of 2yos is an example of a long standing (‘controversial’) topic. The debate will go on. I’ve taken the liberty of augmenting the portfolio with some veterinary dialogue as quoted.

Featured Image: Skeletal Development in Horses (acknowledge the author identified in the image)

Tara Madgwick – Tuesday December 20


A conversation with somebody not involved in racing this morning got me thinking about the justification for racing two-year-old thoroughbreds and why many in the outside world see this as some sort of cruelty and yet for those involved in the industry it’s one of the most interesting facets of our sport.

With the Magic Millions 2YO Classic on next month, the focus is very much on two-year-old racing and while there are hundreds of babies in work at stables right around the country, only a small percentage of the foal crop will race as juveniles and fewer will succeed and win as juveniles.

For most of them, their juvenile season is about education and building the muscle, bone and mental skills required for successful competition later in life.

Thoroughbreds have been purpose bred for speed for over 200 years with the first Epsom Derby run in 1780. Over generations they have been selectively bred to mature faster and run faster than any other horse and like human athletes that succeed at the highest level of sport, they begin training for their destiny early in life.

We encourage our children to play sport and be active and if they show a particular talent in a particular field and have parents up for the challenge, those kids are pushed along, and most Olympians were well and truly on their way by their early teenage years if not before.

Swimmers, runners, tennis players, gymnasts, football players, cricket players… if they get to the very top of their sport, invariably they’ve spent a lifetime doing it.

Horse to Human Age Comparison Chart
Horse Age Stage of Life Human Age Stage of Life
1 Foal, Weanling, Yearling 6.5 Infancy, Babyhood, Toddler, Preschooler
2 Two-Year-Old 13 Adolescence / Puberty
3 Three-Year-Old 18 Teenager
4 Four-Year-Old 20.5 Young Adult
5 Physical Maturity 24.5 Adulthood
7   28  
10   35.5  
13 Middle Aged 43.5 Middle Aged
17   53  
20 Senior 60 Senior

A look at the chart above comparing horse years to human years, shows that our two-year-old horses are about the equivalent of 13-year-old people and like the people, our two-year-old horses compete largely against their peers at this age.

As three-year-olds, equivalent of human 18-year-olds, they can sometimes match strides with the older horses, but usually receive a weight advantage to offset the physical disadvantage and by age four they begin to at attain full maturity, a process that goes on for several years.

The great champion Winx is a glowing example of a well-managed horse that raced twice as a late season juvenile for two wins and trained on to win 37 of 43 starts, bowing out on a high at age seven with over $26million in prizemoney.

Thoroughbreds are bred with the aim of being elite athletes, not intellectual sit at home and pontificate types, and an important part of that process for the vast majority is education and training at two.

Not all of them are physically or mentally suited to athletic pursuits, as not all humas are suited to becoming professional athletes, but the early education with a good trainer is where we find out more about them and realistic decisions can be made to benefit the horse and it’s owners.

Statistically by the end of December only around 5% of the yearlings offered for sale have made it to the races and by the end of February when the Golden Slipper field is decided we’ve seen about 10%.

By the end of the season come late July we’ve usually seen about 25% of the yearlings offered for sale, so around three-quarters of the commercial foal crop don’t race at two, for them it’s all about education and process.

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Scott, Robert (1799–1844) & Helenus Scott (1902 – 1879)

Scott, Robert (1799–1844) & Helenus Scott (1902 – 1879)

Keith R. Binney writes in his monumental tome ‘Horsemen of the First Frontier (1788 – 1900) and The Serpent’s Legacy’ that “from the viewpoint of a thoroughbred researcher, without any doubt the two most important pioneer Hunter Valley bloodhorse breeders were the brothers Robert and Helenus Scott”.

Their importation of British Stallions ‘Toss’ (1829), ‘Trumpet (1830), ‘Dover’ (1836) and ‘Cap-a-pie’ provided a superb foundation of broodmares and sires for most Hunter Valley, Richmond and Clarence River Studs. They were supplemented by locally bred sires ‘Tamerlane’ (1835), ‘Pelham’ (1842) and ‘Hector’ (1843). Among those to benefit were Charles Reynolds’ Tocal Stud, George Wyndham’s Dalwood and Bukkula, Barnes and Smith Bros. Dyraaba and Gordon Brook as well as Messrs Dangar’s Neotsfield, Turanville and Baroona. Further afield, the Lee’s Bylong and Leeholme  and the Rouse’s Biraganbil were replete with Glendon bloodlines.

Featured Image: Gratefully acknowledge the source in ‘The Convict Valley’ by Mark Dunn ISBN 978 1 76052 864 5 (SLNSW Min 354 & Min 355)

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Henry Reeves

Henry Reeves

Clerk of the Course

In an era when developing rural Australia was ruled by the self-appointed cadre of privileged and wealthy white ‘Bunyip Aristocracy’ there was one major exception in the thoroughbred breeding stakes. Henry Reeves was an ‘Emancipist’ as opposed to the self-titled ‘Exclusives’.

Henry Reeves (1804-1852) was transported to Sydney on the “Hercules” arriving May 7th. 1825. He’d been transported when found guilty at the Surrey Assizes of robbery. He was however an experienced horse groom as well as being literate or semi-literate, unusual among convicts. Henry Reeves was immediately assigned as a servant to Peter Macintyre and in due course became a bullock driver at Segenhoe, then owned by Thomas Potter Macqueen. Henry Reeves remained loyal to Macqueen’s successor Henry Collins Sempill who persuaded Henry to marry on of his servant girls Mary Grenville. In 1933 both Henry and Mary obtained their “tickets of leave” while following Sempill to Belltrees. In 1941 Henry Reeves secured a conditional pardon which enabled him to strike out in business on his own.

He established a coaching business and livery stable in West Maitland. In 1841 he took over the license of the Albion Inn in High Street, West Maitland, and leased an adjoining 10 acre grazing paddock. Reeves sold and raffled horses, provided stud services, and in 1846 established the Maitland Jockey Club. In 1847, he transferred his license to the Fitzroy Inn, West Maitland. In the same year the journal Heads of the People describes Reeves as the “proprietor of the Fitzroy Hotel at West Maitland and Clerk of the Course…a breeder of horses and genuine Turfite”. He sold the hotel and his studhorses in 1849 due to failing health. He became an auctioneer and retained an interest in racehorses and breeding. Henry Reeves died aged 47 years on April 19, 1852, at his residence in Church Street, West Maitland, an outstanding example of a highly successful emancipist. His wife Mary predeceased him by barely three months dying on January 25th, 1852.

During his sojourn in Maitland Henry Reeves ran coaching services to Patrick Plains (Singleton). He was able to access superior bloodlines from the foundation stock of the Scott Brothers of ‘Glendon’. Many were sired by ‘Toss’ or ‘Dover’ both of whom were exceptional sires. Their daughters also made highly productive broodmares. Henry crossbred Arabs and Clevelands to produce the best carriage horses. He also enjoyed enormous success at Maitland Races where he was the driving force.


Horsemen of the first frontier (1788-1900) and the Serpent’s legacy / by Keith R. Binney. Neutral Bay, N.S.W.: Volcanic Productions , [2005].
Heads of the people: an illustrated journal of literature, whims, and oddities. [Sydney : W. Baker], 1847-1848, Vol. 1, no. 25, October 2, 1847
The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, April 21, 1852, p. 3 on Trove. (accessed July 16, 2010)

St. Simon (TB)

St. Simon (TB)

See: St. Simon (horse) – Wikipedia

St. Simon (1881 – April 2, 1908) was an undefeated British Thoroughbred racehorse and one of the most successful sires in the history of the Thoroughbred. In May 1886 The Sporting Times carried out a poll of one hundred experts to create a ranking of the best British racehorses of the 19th century. St. Simon was ranked fourth, having been placed in the top ten by 53 of the contributors.

Henry Dangar’s inspired and prescient importation of ‘Positano’ (GB) by St Simon ex Ponza by Springfield in 1893 proved to be the epitome of his/their thoroughbred breeding enterprise launched so successfully in mid-nineteenth century Australia. It was bettered only by Rodney Dangar of ‘Baroona’ who bred local all-champion Peter Pan (1929) by Pantheon (GB) out of Alwina.

Henry Dangar (1798 – 1861) and his Brothers

Henry Dangar (1798 – 1861) and his Brothers

Featured Image: Henry Dangar (‘Dawn in the Valley’ by W. Allan Wood, reproduced by courtesy of Dangar, Gedye and Malloch, Ltd.))

Continuing the theme of who first introduced horses and eventually thoroughbreds into the Upper Hunter Valley there is little doubt that the Dangar Family are right at the forefront.

See: Biography – Henry Dangar – Australian Dictionary of Biography (

Henry was the patriarch and boasted six (6) brothers and five (5) sons. All except one in each generation contributed to the Upper Hunter Valley on Dangar family properties; the two ‘renegades’ Richard Cary (brother) and Francis Richard (grandson) were the youngest and returned to England, the latter unmarried. The principal properties were ‘Neotsfield’ (Singleton), ‘Turanville’ (Scone), ‘Drildool’, ‘Yallaroi’, ‘Gostwyck’ (Uralla) and ‘Baroona’ (Singleton).

The Dangars made a relatively slow start in the ‘horse-powered expansion stakes’. They do not seem to have been serious thoroughbred breeders to begin with, although they undoubtedly used thoroughbred stallions to improve their utility stockhorses and walers for export. The patriarch had studiously nurtured a very keen eye for commercial gain.

The family selected many early outstanding thoroughbred horses as well as fine Arab stock bred in India. This was a fundamental practice of the era designed to ‘improve the quality’ of the local breed. Included among the many fine foundation bloodstock were Grandmaster (GB 1868), Reginald (1881) by Grandmaster, Gibraltar (1887), The Watchdog (1895) by Gibraltar, Rose Gun (1898) by Gibraltar and Farhan (Arab).

Albert Augustus Dangar and Frank Dangar added Gainsborough (1876), Hawthornden (GB 1867) and Clan Stuart (GB 1881). In January 1897 Chairman of the Australian Jockey Club Henry Cary Dangar imported the superbly bred Positano (GB 1893 by St Simon ex Ponza). Poseidon (1903) was by Positano ex Jacinth and was an early champion of the 20th century racing under the banner of Sir Hugh Denison who had other nom de plumes. The ‘icing on the cake’ came later when Rodney Rouse Dangar (son of Albert Augustus Dangar) bred the outstanding all-time great Australian champion Peter Pan at ‘Baroona’ who went on to win dual Melbourne Cups in 1932 and 1934.

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Equimec Quality Handicap @ Scone Cup Races Friday May 19th. 1995

Equimec Quality Handicap @ Scone Cup Races Friday May 19th. 1995

Featured Image: The NBN Television Handicap trophy presentation featured from the left Scone Race Club President David Bath, owners Mr & Mrs Paul Hassab, Mr & Mrs Robert Heath and NBN personalities Chris Bath and Ray Dineen. This was the first day of the very first Scone Cup Race Meeting held at the then ‘new’ Satur Race Course.

I write this ‘Blog’ on Christmas Eve 2022. It evokes many very pleasant (and poignant) memories. Scone Race Club President and intimate friend David Bath passed away almost exactly 12 months ago. We hosted his official Scone farewell here at ‘Geraldton’, April 2022. Also, in the winning photograph are NW NSW sporting legends the Hassab and Heath Families. No doubt there were delayed celebrations around Gunnedah and Boggabri after the races! Both Rollo Heath and Paul Hassab played Rugby Union & RL at a high level. Paul has been my great friend and colleague on the Council of the RAS of NSW (Royal Easter Show). He guided me early following my induction in 1997. His son David is on the Gosford Race Club Committee at the present time. Paul and I conjointly host a ‘Thoroughbred Legends Lunch’ at the RES each year. COVID played havoc with our program, but we are firmly committed to making up for lost time! It will be a very ‘long lunch’ indeed!

Scone Cup Races Race Day Results, Race 5, Equimec Quality Handicap over 1100 metres of $15,000; 1st $10,000, 2nd. $3,000, 3rd. $1,500, 4th $500. Trophies to the value of $500: Owner $350, trainer $75, jockey $75.

Winner: R P Heath, P Brady, P Minahan, W J Hinton, P R Hassab & M E Brady’s ‘Bally Moreen’, ridden by Peter Losh (54kg), by Snippets-Fontaine, trained by Paul St Vincent @ Tamworth. Colours Dark Blue, White Quarters and Diamonds. Carried 54kg. Started 3/1. Margins 1 length by long neck. Time 1 min. 05.13 secs. 2nd. ‘Romantic Governor’ (D Beadman 55kg 11/1). 3rd. ‘Mansal Bay’ (M Ollerton 59kg 5/1) 4th. ‘The Glen’ (A W Robinson 54kg 11/2).

Chris Bath featured recently on TV’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are’. There were a few surprises for her. David Bath and Chris Bath were not related, however.

Earliest Foundation Stallions in Australia (Colony of NSW)

Earliest Foundation Stallions in Australia (Colony of NSW)

Acknowledge Douglas M Barrie “The Australian Bloodhorse” 1956

Featured Image: ‘Hector’ from a watercolour impression by Douglas M Barrie

First Fleet Stallion 1788

Accompanied the First Fleet from Cape Town with another yearling colt, three mares and two filly foals. Restricted early influence partly because of limited opportunities. ‘Cape breeds’ were classed as ‘utility horses’ used mainly for transport. This stallion had minimal impact on the nascent equine genotype.

Persian Stallions

Several Arab and Persian stallions were imported between 1796 and 1802. They were used in the establishment of our foundation stock. Between six and ten were introduced. They were described by Captain Collins as “tolerably good”. This was a practice which was successfully repeated in the mid-1800s when Arabs of Indian origin were used to ‘improve the breed’.

Rockingham (Young Rockingham)

Rockingham was an English thoroughbred imported to Sydney from the Cape of Good Hope in 1799: “About the first importation made with a view of improving the breed of horses in NSW”. He was most likely a son of one of the Rockingham mares as the General Stud Book (UK) has no record of one of his sons being exported to either the Cape or Australia. Some of the oldest colonial families trace back to Rockingham (Imp.) mares including ‘Myrtle’.


‘Northumberland’ was bred by the Duke of Northumberland (UK) and stood 17 hands high. He gave the stallion to Major George Johnston of the NSW Corps. This fine horse was imported on the ‘Buffalo’ in October 1802 by Major Johnston along with an English mare. They were the first English horses to come direct to Australia. He stood first at Annandale and then at Macarthur’s Camden Park Stud. He and Old Hector were the two leading sires in Australia prior to 1820. His colonial sons included Percy, Escape, Hotspur, Champion, Nelson and Young Northumberland. Many of the early racehorse trace to Northumberland mares.

Washington (USA)

Washington was an American thoroughbred imported about 1802 or earlier. He was a very successful sire of early broodmares including Wentworth’s Grey Galloway (foaled about 1809), Marmion (1817) and Oscar (1818).

Hector (Old Hector)

Once the property of the Duke of Wellington (Arthur Wellesley) Hector was a very fine bay Arab, imported from Calcutta, possibly in February 1803, but no later than 1806 by merchant Mr R. Campbell. He stood between 15 and 16 hands high and was one of the great early sires. It’s highly likely that the first overland ‘explorers’ to the Upper Hunter Valley including John Howe (1819) rode the progeny of these stallions.

Hunter Valley Pioneer Horsemen

Hunter Valley Pioneer Horsemen

Acknowledge “Horsemen of the First Frontier (1788 – 1900) and The Serpent’s Legacy” by Keith R. Binney, ISBN 0 646 44865 X.

I’m frequently asked why and how did the Upper Hunter Valley evolve and develop as the horse breeding centre of Australia, especially thoroughbreds? It’s an intricate issue with a few variants of interpretation.

Since British ‘settlement’ at Sydney Cove in 1788 the County of Cumberland was the only geographical region available for breeding of any livestock in the colony. For nigh on fifty years, it was the acknowledged supply depot for carriage, conveyance, and recreational horses so necessary as fast transport for advancement of the ‘developing’ infant colony. Indigenous Australians had successfully pursued their own pathways for over 50,000 years but neither horses nor any other beasts-of-burden had ever been part of the national landscape.

There were at least seven (7) horses on the first fleet, but these were rather cumbersome utility ‘Capers’ acquired while anchored in Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, the penultimate destination of the First Fleet. See feigned ‘Featured Image’. They comprised one stallion, three mares and three foals (‘Colts’). Gradually over time superior horses were imported to improve the very basic genotype. They included Rockingham (1790s ‘Caper’), Northumberland (1801 ’Thoroughbred’), Shark (1801 Arab), Washington (1800 USA Thoroughbred) and Old Hector (Early 1800s ‘Thoroughbred’).

The redoubtable ‘Horsemen of the First Frontier’ in the County of Cumberland 1788 – 1860 incorporated Military Officers, Civil Officers, Merchants, First Free Settlers, Governors’ Families, Emancipists and Currency Lads. Included were such iconic surnames as Macarthur, Cox, Lawson, Bell, D’Arcy Wentworth, Piper, Grose, Rouse, Marsden, Oxley, Campbell, Badgery, Blaxland, Howe, Hall, King, Bligh, Rose, Lee and Thompson. The names of the early stud farm properties were no less striking. Elizabeth Farm, Camden Park House, Emu Hall, ‘Bungaribee’ (Eastern Creek) and Hobartville are no less firmly embedded in the psyche and ‘Colonial DNA’.

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Emeritus Professor Leo Jeffcott

Emeritus Professor Leo Jeffcott

I’ve developed a strategy of recording for posterity the outstanding careers of some of my professional colleagues. Leo is one of the very best.

See: Emeritus Professor Leo Jeffcott – Camden Equine Centre

March 16, 2021

Emeritus Professor Leo Jeffcott is one of the world’s most highly acclaimed equine veterinarians. His expertise in a vast range of equine veterinary fields has led him to the most esteemed role, we are incredibly honoured that Leo calls Camden Equine Centre home.

The title of Emeritus Professor was given to Leo when he retired from his position as Dean of the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney. Leo continues to work part-time from his office at CEC, his modest nature has led to many students not realising they are being taught by a living legend. To many, Leo is a friendly and composed character who volunteers his time to mentor vets and students as well as have valuable input in research projects or difficult cases.

Emeritus Professor Leo Jeffcott, has been an official FEI Event Veterinarian since 1977 and has officiated at many elite championships including four World Equestrian Games. He has been an official veterinarian at six Olympic Games (1988-2008). He was President of the Veterinary Commission at Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004) and has been Veterinary Technical Delegate at Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008). Professor Jeffcott was elected Chairman of the FEI Veterinary Committee and a member of the Bureau in 1998 and served until 2006. He was then made an Honorary Member of the Bureau and was the first veterinarian to receive that honour. He held the post of Dean at the Veterinary School in the University of Cambridge (1991-2004) and then at the University of Sydney (2004-2009).

With countless publications and research papers, there is a fair chance that most Australian equine vets have learnt something from Emeritus Professor Jeffcott. Leo has been a guest speaker and lectured worldwide but one of the most memorable speaking engagements was at the very first Bain Fallon conference held in 1978 over four days, Professor Jeffcott was the sole presented of 24 topics!

Leo’s lifetime of dedication to educating the next generation of veterinarians along with his research to advance the health and welfare of horses is something that all horse owners can benefit and be thankful for.

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