‘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’.

Continue reading →

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

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

Acknowledge and see:

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

Foreword

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.

Continue reading →

Legendary Lester @ Scone Races 1995

Legendary Lester @ Scone Races 1995

Featured Image: Lester Pigott on ‘Windeyer’ at Scone Races on April 7th 1995

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 1964! 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.

Continue reading →

“They’re off!” When the Spurters Spurted and Old ‘Piallah’ Plugged On

“They’re off!”

When the Spurters Spurted and Old ‘Piallah’ Plugged On

“Them Was the Days”

Acknowledgement: ‘The Scone Advocate’ Tuesday 7th February 1939

07 Feb 1939 – “THEY’RE OFF!” – Trove (nla.gov.au)

Featured Image: Gundy Cup 1928

When this (anonymous) scribe, a few weeks ago, in his moments of leisure, “knocked” a couple of columns of “copy” together dealing with the doings and incidents on the bush tracks, no special, no small section of our readers, like Oliver Twist, passed their plates, as it were, for a second helping – asked for more, and more.

Penned wholly from memory, the reminiscences of the happenings, are asked to be accepted in the spirit in which they are presented. Most of the tracks which attracted crowds in the days referred to have long since disappeared. In many instances closer settlements, with the introduction of the plough, have been responsible, and then, again, there too many present-day counter attractions – mechanical coursing, for example, has magnetised no small proportion of those who made the smaller race meetings possible – and other reasons that caused clubs to haul down their flags, never to be hoisted again.

Continue reading →

Ten Best Thoroughbred Sires in past 60 years

Ten Best Thoroughbred Sires in past 60 years

“The past 60 years has seen the growth of the shuttle stallion concept, changing the Australian breeding industry forever”.

By 

Acknowledge: Tony Arrold; ‘The Australian’

See: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/horse-racing/the-list-10-best-sires/news-story/63e7fe91febf447d049e73bcd366ec61

Featured Image: ‘Danehill’

From Horse Racing; October 8, 2020

The stallion shuttle era and the explosion of stallion services into double-century figures are two notable milestones of Australia’s thoroughbred breeding industry – not merely for the past 60 years, but in the 221 years since the first recorded thoroughbred stallion, the British-bred Young Rockingham, was led ashore in Sydney Cove.

The dual-hemisphere stallion idea was tested here in 1976 with four young stallions sent from Ireland’s then fledgling Coolmore Stud. The bold but risky and expensive exercise was relaunched in 1989, when the five pioneering stallions included Coolmore’s Last Tycoon, subsequently champion sire for 1993-94.

The shuttle squad of seven in 1990 included Danehill, a Coolmore-Arrowfield Stud joint venture, who was destined to become the phenomenon of dual-hemisphere history, snaring multiple sire’s titles in Europe and Australia, with his record nine in the latter boosted by a further seven crowns claimed by his sons Redoute’s Choice (three), Fastnet Rock (two), Exceed And Excel and Flying Spur, and the past four by his grandson Snitzel.

In tandem with the shuttle fashion growth – the stallion intake from Europe, North America and Japan rose astonishingly to 66 in 1996 – was the startling trend of soaring mare covers.

Danehill became a centurion server in his fifth season, 1994, but he has been put in the shade in the Lothario stakes – the 2019 spring saw nine stallions each serving an average 225 mares after a 2018 high, when 14 stallions each covered a 200-plus book.

10 Best Sires

The stallion shuttle era and the explosion of stallion services into double-century figures are two notable milestones of Australia’s thoroughbred breeding industry.

1.Danehill (US) 1986 by Danzig

2.Sir Tristram (Ire) 1971 by Sir Ivor

3.Better Boy (Ire) 1951, by My Babu

4.Zabeel (NZ) 1986 by Sir Tristram

5.Star Kingdom (Ire) 1946 by Stardust

6.Bletchingly (Aus) 1970 by Biscay

7.Redoute’s Choice (Aus) 1996 by Danehill

8.Wilkes (Fra) 1952 by Court Martial

9.Encosta de Lago (Aus) 1993 by Fairy King

10.Showdown (GB) 1961 by Infatuation

Hollywood Harley

Hollywood Harley

Featured Image: “Shooting at Cuan 1956”; Taken from ‘Moving Images and the Theatre’; “The Shiralee…Filming in the Upper Hunter”. Federation Publication No. 1, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society 1997

I acknowledge that much of this ‘blog’ has been ‘inspired’, if that is the right word, by my late good friend Harley Walden. Much of his work has been variously plundered, plagiarized and purloined by me. I’ve made no secret of the fact and admit it all now.

Ealing Studios, London “hit town” in Scone in on 6 September 1956 to shoot the “The Shiralee” at local sites in Gundy, Wootton and The Cuan at Bunnan; “a warm human story of an Australian swagman set against the sheep stations and countryside of that vast continent”.

Harley was a passionate local advocate of all things Scone; especially the thoroughbred racing and breeding components. He differed from almost everyone else with few exceptions in that he wrote most of it down.  However he did not restrict his passion to horses only. Hidden away was a strong thespian streak which went largely undiscovered. I only found this out by fortunate serendipity when I was researching material to satisfy my own burgeoning self-interest. I doubt Harley threatened the male lead in the movie Peter Finch? However not to be totally outdone Harley generously lent his pony ‘Paint’ for the film.

Quick Knock Classic

Quick Knock Classic

Featured Image: Betty Shepherd riding ‘Quick Knock’ during track work on the old race track at White Park, Scone in the early 1960s

Most good judges rate this as one of the greatest action shots of a horse fully extended at fast gallop. Remember the photo was taken over 60 years ago when photographic (camera) technology was several generations behind the instant gratification we enjoy so much today. All four feet are captured off the ground ‘in the instant’ with Betty crouched in perfect position over the withers. Note the absence (c. 1960) of protective skull cap; and the ‘presence’ of stylish footware!

A framed copy of this photo forms the centrepiece of the main bar in the tastefully renovated Thoroughbred Hotel at Scone; thank you Peter Allen & Kriston Harris. I’ve lost count of the myriad aficionados and ‘amateurs’ who’ve commented on this masterpiece of fast action technology. Sadly Betty, Peter Allen and ‘Quick Knock’ have left us; but they all leave their legacy for posterity.

There’s an interesting tale about the acquisition of ‘Quick Knock’ by Betty’s late husband Archie? Archie was an entrepreneurial local ‘odds maker and taker’ with an innovative telephone service-of-the-day. He could also ‘arrange things’? A certain lot at the Scone Thoroughbred Sale in the Puen Puen draft had attracted his attention. The gullible ingénue auctioneer was ‘persuaded’ to bring the gavel down fast when Archie held the advantage early in the bidding contest. What’s a few £££’s (those were the days) between busy people? Hence the given name ‘Quick Knock’ for the new purchase!

Racing Royalty @ Scone December 2012

Featured Image: Article from the Scone Advocate dated 20th December 2012

The occasion was the launch of the Polo Exhibition at the Scone Visitor Information Centre sponsored by Dr Judy White AM PhD of ‘Belltrees’. The ‘Royal’ epithet might apply to both Harley & Francesca? Harley is ‘local’ and Francesca ‘International’. Both are equally passionate.

Then Scone Polo Club President Mack Lee Warner can be seen in the background. Mack is great nephew of revered thoroughbred breeder F K ‘Darby’ Mackay.

Todman and Sellwood set the standard for other champions

Todman and Sellwood set the standard for other champions

By Max Presnell

April 7, 2006 — 10.00am

See: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/racing/todman-and-sellwood-set-the-standard-for-other-champions-20060407-gdnbj0.html

Featured Image: ‘Todman’ and Neville Sellwood

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/slipper-champions-well-ahead-of-current-crop/

Authors Note: At the time of posting, this is very timely. How grateful we should all be that racing literary legends like Max Presnell actually existed; and recorded for posterity gems of the turf such as this encomium to a great champion.

Continue reading →

Slipper Champions well ahead of Current Crop

Slipper Champions well ahead of Current Crop

Acknowledge:

Verry Elleegant-Addeybb clash appeals but Slipper champions well ahead of current crop

By Max Presnell

March 19, 2021 — 1.32pm

Golden Slipper 2021: Verry Elleegant and Addeybb Ranvet clash appeals but past champions still Four Moves Ahead of current juveniles (smh.com.au)

Featured Image: The last champion? 1978 Golden Slipper winner ‘Manikato’

Authors Note: I agree wholeheartedly with Max! In the helter skelter cavalry charge for speedy quantity have we not forfeited quality? At the time of posting this the Golden Slipper Race Day has been postponed one week due to heavy recent rain and the state of the track at Rosehill.

See also: Todman and Sellwood set the standard for other champions (smh.com.au)

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

Continue reading →