Australia’s First Stud Book

Australia’s First Stud Book

Acknowledge: ‘The Australian Stud & Stable’ – August/September 1972 – Page 82

Acknowledge: Michael Ford;


Featured Image: Front cover of Fowler Boyd Price’s First Stud Book (see above)

English Camerton was a chestnut and not very game stayer. He was a son of Hambletonian, the winner of the 1795 St Leger and 19 other races and matches, including a famous match race against Diamond for 3000 Guineas at Newmarket. Hambletonian was a grandson of Eclipse, and was only beaten once when he bolted and jumped from the course.

This fascinating conundrum about “Old” Camerton occurs in the pedigree notes in this first NSW Stud Book concerning Bay Camerton, bred in England in 1817 and imported to New South Wales in 1824. Through his daughters, notably Camilla (foaled about 1828) his blood still survives in Australia.

We must remember that until 1857 the whole of Australia generally was called New South Wales, so Price’s work virtually summarized information about racing stock in all the States.

The fact that imported Bay Cameron carries the same name as his English sire was not then unusual. In those days there was no central registration of thoroughbreds; such as the admirable system administered by the Australian Jockey Club for the whole of Australia today. As was the case with Camerton, many names were duplicated.

Price’s book listed 562 stallions and mares; and many names appeared more than once for the different individuals: – Abdallah (twice), Aether (twice), Alice (twice), Alice Hawthorn (twice), Camel (four times), Cassandra (twice), Cassia (twice), Colonel (twice), Commissioner (twice), Dora (twice), Emigrant (twice), Euclid (twice) – and so on through almost every letter of the Alphabet. There are even three with the unlikely name of Zuleika. Lola Montes – the music-hall star of that period – also appeared twice.

There are 108 subscribers who helped finance the publication – such names famous in Australian racing history as Hon E Deas Thompson (an early chairman of the AJC), John Eales, John Higgerson, the famous rider and trainer, Etienne De Mestre (of Archer and Melbourne Cup fame), Messrs Cox, Dangar, Cheeke, Lee and Edwin Rouse. It is of interest that a member of the Rouse family, L G Rouse, was later a custodian of the Australian Stud Book from 1914 to 1927.

In his foreword, Price outlined the many and great difficulties he had to overcome in compiling his work. Not the least of these was postal. Imagine the slowness and uncertainty of communications to the outback in those days.

Another handicap was the inadequacy of records kept (or rather not kept) by Australian breeders; many breeders unable to supply details of their mare’s matings going back more than one year. One exception however was My Alex Wyndham of Hunter River who must have kept excellent records – as details of all his mares are given for the previous twelve years.

One interesting note is:

“Several persons have expressed the hope that the pedigrees of ‘none but thoroughbreds’ would be inserted, and as this recommendation has not been followed, it becomes necessary to explain why it has deviated from, which is simply that, while we have many mares bordering upon it, we have but very few actual ‘thoroughbred’, in the sense usually accorded that term in England, and surely it is necessary for us in Australia to know and preserve a record of these animals of doubtful lineage – some of them dams of our best and fastest racers, and from whom the future stock of the colonies will unquestionably spring – as it is of those who boast an unstained pedigree from ‘Place’s White Turk, or the Godolphin Arabian’.”

This note could have referred to mares such as LUDIA: listed as mare number 105 in this Stud Book (each mare was numbered as a simple index reference. Alphabetical order was not observed; in fact the first mare listed was Welcome).

Ludia is simply shown as:

“Bay mare by Waverley out of Peri by Gratis, grand-dam of Aspic by Satellite; In 1857 covered by New Warrior”.

Although this was not 100% pure English blood, Ludia certainly was one of the mares “bordering upon it”. In fact, her breeding closely followed the pattern of breeding which had evolved the thoroughbred in England.

Waverley, although locally bred, was of all English entail, being by imported St George from imported Splendora. Likewise Gratis was himself imported and had been a good performer in England. The “doubtful” blood was Aspic by Satellite. Aspic was from a Government mare of unknown pedigree.

Who was Satellite? Price tells us: –

“A bay Arab imported at high cost from Bombay by Sir Thomas Brisbane for the Government about the year 1824.This noble specimen of an Arab stood little more than 14 hands, and, with perfect symmetry, combined length, breadth, depth and muscle sufficient to furnish the Mounted Police Corps of the Colony with troop horses which could scarcely be over-weighted or over-ridden. Satellite covered, in the first instance, for the government at Wellington; afterwards in the Stud of the late Colonel Dumaresq at St Helier’s Hunter River, and was finally transferred to the Messrs Macarthur, at Camden, where he died.”

(*incidentally Satellite was here in 1823 when he was advertised in the Sydney Gazette).

Satellite was one of the exceptionally good Arab sires which helped to build the racing breed in Australia. The greatest of these Arabs was Hector, sire of several taproots in today’s Australian and New Zealand Stud Books. These early Arabian sires of Australia may be compared with the Arabs likewise used in England to develop the thoroughbred – such as “Place’s White Turk or the Godolphin Arabian”.

Some of Satellite’s ability not to be “over-weighted nor over-ridden” must have passed on through Peri to her children. Ludia was a full-sister to Veno (1849) the undisputed champion of Australia in 1857.

The highlight of Veno’s career was when he was shipped from Sydney to Melbourne for a match race against the Victorian champion Alice Hawthorn; he won this three mile race, coming in hard-held and easy winner.

Later the same afternoon he was saddled up again to win another 3 miler; against the Geelong horse Van Tromp which he won in seven seconds faster time than his earlier race.

The outcome of Ludia’s 1857 mating with New Warrior (imp.) was Tarragon (1858), who succeeded Veno as the “best three-miler in the Colony” and was an outstanding stayer during the first few years of Randwick, where he won his first race in 1862. In Melbourne he won the 1866 Champion Stakes from Volunteer, over 3 miles – after a deciding run-off subsequent to a dead-heat, a total of six miles within the hour! The ageing Tarragon was beaten in the first Sydney Cup f 1866 (won by Yattendon); but his son A. T. won the Cup in 1876.

This “Doubtful lineage” threw up some of “our best and fastest racers”. Any racehorse of today that carries these bloodlines in its ancestry is certainly none the worse for this exceptional stoutness.

At the same time Price went to pains to show “that some of the purest blood that England boasts has been imported to this colony; Whisker, Emigrant, Camerton, Theorem, St John, Gratis, etc., are names that will ever live as the great ancestors of our best horses; while it would be difficult now to find anything in England to equal the fine strains recognizable in the pedigrees of Peter Fin and Skeleton.”

Even the advertisements at the end of the volume fascinate – and make the smaller breeder sigh for the good old days. Here are some extracts: –

Magnus (imported son of Pyrrhus the 1st, the Derby Winner) stud fee 7 guineas; likewise the imported horse Chatterbox at 7 guineas – or “mares from same owner a 6 pounds 10 shillings each”.

An echo of the times is provided by William John O’Brien’s Tattersall’s Hotel (later famous as Adams Hotel), advertising “A first class sporting house with excellent cuisine, cellar and sleeping apartments, a sporting library which boasted a ‘rare portrait of Eclipse’” (I wonder where that is today) and a Booking Office for coaches to the Goldfields of Sofala and Mudgee.

Life was certainly more leisurely – and cheaper – in the days of Fowler Boyd Price. The Australian breeding industry owes much to this pioneer Stud Book author for his “greater mass of authentic information respecting the Pedigrees of Horses, then has ever been collected together”.