The Ageing Process I

The Ageing Process I

Featured Image I: ‘Age of Discretion’

Now well into my eightieth year and about to complete eight decades on earth I sometimes reflect philosophically on the ageing process? Every night in the RSL Club we are assured that (of )departed veterans ‘age shall not weary them nor the years condemn’. I’m not nearly so convinced; but then I’m neither?

Very recently I’ve attended memorials for many close friends and relatives; some younger, some older. There’s no doubt “they’re grabbing them from our paddock now”.

In the following few pictorial vignettes I thought I’d add some lighter touches? It makes me feel better!

Alabama Races

Alabama Races

Featured Image: Poster for the Scone Jockey Club’s meeting at the “Alabama” Racecourse, near Scone on Saturday 28th April 1945.

It sounds like a film set from ‘Gone With The Wind’ but for a short period of time the Scone Jockey Club raced at the “Alabama” Racecourse, ‘near Scone’. This was situated on the “Alabama’ Property adjacent to the wooden Allan Bridge crossing of Pages River on the Segenhoe/Aberdeen Road leading to Kia Ora Stud. It’s hard to imagine today where the racecourse was situated but it must have been on the flatter country across the bridge?

I believe ‘Alabama’ was owned in 1945 by Alan Cooper who was a known strong supporter of racing. Ray Bowcock later acquired the property and it was where five times champion stallion ‘Delville Wood’ was laid to rest following his relocation after the dispersal sale(s) of Kia Ora Stud in 1959/1961. I believe the ‘Alabama’ portion was sliced from the original Segenhoe block?

Scone Race Club replaced the Scone Jockey Club by 1947 when the first Cup Meeting was held at White Park in May of that year. President Doug Robertson and Honorary Secretary Cec Parry were the drivers of the new initiative. Thankfully the late Harley Walden has documented the whole story which was recently augmented by the author.

WWII was grinding to a halt in Europe and the Pacific. There remained much zealous fervour and ardent patriotism for the war effort plus auxiliary services and supporting hospitals for returning injured veterans. The poster refers to the upcoming Muswellbrook Patriot Race Meeting? There were many such fund raisers throughout the Upper Hunter including Wingen, Stewarts Brook, Kars Springs, Gundy et al.

John Merton Harris

John Merton Harris

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/holbrook-stud-and-the-harris-family/

Featured Image: The front cover of the Memorial Service booklet for John Merton Harris held at the Anglican Church in Denman. I was privileged to be there in a COVID-19 ‘limited congregation’.

The passing of John Harris marked the end of an era in Thoroughbred Breeding in the Upper Hunter Valley. John was the last of the older ‘traditional-style’ breeders which evolved in the 19th century and was refined throughout the 20th century. I refer to the family-owned and run farming enterprises. The one surviving exception is Widden which Antony Thompson has successfully reinvented as a large commercial enterprise now also successfully entrenched in Victoria.

The image of John Harris on the front cover defines the man, his genre, gender and generation. His younger brother Alan had pre-deceased him. John and I share a common bond in the formation of the Hunter Valley Bloodhorse Breeders Association (HVBBA, now HTBA) in 1978. We were two of an original committee of 12. Only Hilton Cope and myself survive today! I still warmly regard John Harris as a conservative foundation ‘rock’ on which we constructed the new enterprise. John was also intimately involved in many, mainly Denman, initiatives including Shire Councillor, Church Warden, RSL Club and President of the Denman Jockey Club.

Ride-for-a-cure Mongolian Derby

Ride-for-a-cure Mongolian Derby

Featured Image: Five very happy participants in the rite-of-passage marathon ride endured by generations of young Mongolians.

See also: THEY’RE IN FOR A WILD RIDE – Kiss Goodbye to MS

It’s become somewhat passe, but this event has caught the imagination of many young equestrians and equestriennes in the Western world. I first encountered this when young teenager Angus Paradice from Scone made it his objective probably 10+ years ago? He achieved his aim of competing successfully and is now a graduate of West Point Military Academy (USA) having joined the US Military Forces.

Two of the Archibald brothers from Scone, Ed, Rob and Jack plus brother-in-law Rob Bell from Goulburn also participated and completed. I believe Anabelle Neasham (England), now a very successful racehorse trainer in Australia actually won the event when employed by Ciarin Maher?

Laurie Morgan & ‘Salad Days’

Laurie Morgan & ‘Salad Days’

Feature Image: Laurie Morgan & ‘Salad Days’

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/laurie-morgan/

Laurie Morgan had a long association with Scone during his family’s sojourn at Redbank. He was later to establish enduring fame as an Olympic Equestrian Champion. ‘Salad Days’ may have been his best horse but some of my erstwhile informed aficionados plump for either or both ‘Gold Ross’ and ‘Colledge Master’?

The caption with the image refers to the credentials of a photograph of ‘Amounis’ who was bred at Kia Ora. The latter had the unfortunate legacy of being the same vintage as all time champion ‘Phar Lap’.

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/amounis/

Launceston Races 1842

Launceston Races 1842

Featured Image: Launceston Cup Meeting Poster 1842

The very successful Launceston Cup Meeting for 2022 has just been run; and won. It reminded me that the very first race meeting in Scone was also held that very same year. They would have been quite disparate events; albeit celebrating identical objectives?

In 2022 the total prizemoney for an excellent program of 10 races was c. $785,000:00. The Cup alone was worth $250,000:00. Over 100 horses came under starter’s orders. How times have changed? I think the Jockey Club in England must be green with envy at the rich prizes now available for competition throughout Australia?

Royal Hub-capping?

Royal Hub-capping?

Featured Image: The then Governor General her Excellency Quentin Bryce at the opening of the Australian Stock Horse National Championships at White Park, Scone during my term of office as Councillor on the Upper Hunter Shire Council 2008 – 2012. I think it was about 2010?

Dame Quentin Bryce is about to shake my hand while my spouse Sarah and Councillor Pam Seccombe line up on my immediate right. Also in the picture are local NSW State Member for Upper Hunter; the Honourable George Souris MP and his spouse Vassie. I think this was about as close as I ever became to ‘Royal Hub-capping’?

The venue at White Park is where the 120 mounted Olympic Horsemen and women had trained for the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

Little did Dame Quentin Bryce realise she had already met my son Hugh? When she was Warden of Women’s College, Sydney University my son was Senior Student at the intimately located St Pauls College for men. It was traditional for the senior student to race naked at midnight around the quadrangle embracing both Colleges at the Annual College Dinner in July. Guess what? Warden Bryce was entertaining Margaret and Goff Whitlam plus then Police Commissioner Peter Ryan and Mrs Ryan for dinner. They emerged just as Hugh was navigating the Women’s College piazza! It’s a long story of restitution!

HUGH HOWEY & ‘WOOL’

Hugh Howey & ‘Wool’

JANUARY 6, 2018

UNCATEGORIZEDWAYFINDERWAYFINDINGWOOLWRITING

Happy New Year

Featured Image: Hugh Howey (USA) and my son Hugh Howey at a ‘Wool’ book launch in Sydney about 10 years ago?

I’m sitting here in Tasmania, on the other side of the world from the small farming town in which I grew up, reflecting on the wild adventure my life has become. This past year was one of the best of my life, even as it contained some of the most difficult things I’ve ever wrestled with. My father is bravely battling cancer. The country I love is taking what I feel to be massive steps backwards. I’ve spent many a dark hour thinking about what’s slowly slipping away.

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