The story of Beauford has a very strong Hunter Valley connection being bred by W H Mackay at ‘Tinagroo’. He was rightly regarded as the ‘Newcastle Horse’. His contests with ‘Gloaming’ (NZ) are the stuff of legend. The Newcastle Jockey Club set up the Beauford Club of Newcastle in 1982. David Bath and myself were inaugural members from Scone Race Club and attended the very first meeting hosted by then NJC Vice-Chairman Terry Smith.
The Story of Beauford
The Beauford Club of Newcastle was established in April 1982. The aim of its establishment was “to promote fellowship amongst persons interested in Racing; and to hold meetings, luncheons and sporting activities, from time to time, to promote the sport”.
The Beauford Club was modeled on the Carbine Clubs of New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand, and the Bernborough Club of Queensland. Note that each of these clubs is named in honour of a champion racehorse from yesteryear, which begs the question, “Why Beauford for Newcastle?” The following seeks to answer that question by telling the story of Beauford.
The Foaling of Beauford
Beauford was foaled in the spring of 1916; that is 100 years ago, at the height of the Great War when young Australian diggers were enduring the unspeakable deprivations and atrocities in the mud of the killing fields of the Western Front.
Beauford was a brown colt by Beau Soult (NZ) out of a 9 year old mare, Blueford (AUS). He was bred by the Mackay Family at the Tinagroo stud, northwest of Scone.
Acknowledgement: ‘Mac Bridge: The Man and his Recollections’ by Heather Ashford and Margaret Ashford-MacDougall
‘Horses of an Earlier Day’
“A good horse, Beauford, was also brought up in a hard school. He was foaled and grew up in a sheep paddock knowns as Gin’s Creek, on Albano Station, Sandy Creek, near Rouchel Brook. At the time, in the teens of the present century (1900s), Albano was the property of the late W H Mackay, Senior, who bred and raced Beauford.
In his younger days, whilst still in the sheep paddock, Beauford was involved in a mishap which may be worthy of mention to show what a tough youngster he was. A man by the name of Dews, whilst engaged as a trapper at Gin’s Creek paddock, one morning had his attention drawn by the mother of the foal. On investigation he found the foal had fallen over a steep bank and was on his back in a water hole in one of the gullies in the paddock.
Being alone, he could not do anything to help the foal out of his difficulties.. So he set off to the homestead to report the mishap.
A draught horse was then harnessed and taken to the spot and hooked up on to the foal, and in this manner the youngster was extricated from his precarious position.
From this somewhat hard living, Beauford grew up to be what I call a great horse. I use the word great because he was one of the very few horses who beat the wonder horse Gloaming, and to prove it was no fluke, Beauford beat Gloaming on more than one occasion.
According to Miller’s Guide, Gloaming’s record reads sixty seven starts, fifty seven wins, nine seonds. That would leave him once unplaced, so the Gin’s Creek bred horse really beat what could be called a champion. Gloaming won nineteen successive races, equalling Desert Gold’s record. Gloaming won thirteen races as a three year old.
Beauford won nine successive races. Unfortunately, the earliest guide at hand, 1956, lists very few races of Gloaming and Beauford’s time. Gloaming won the AJC Derby in 1918. Beauford won the Epsom Handicap in 1921.”
Beauford’s Racing Record
The gelding won no less than 17 races in the period between 5th April 1920 and 1st September 1923 at Maitland, Newcastle and Sydney over distances from 6 furlongs (c. 1200m) to 1½ miles (c. 2400m), statistics worthy of a champion racehorse.
Notable races won by Beauford which are still run today include the Tramway Handicap, the Hill Stakes, the Epsom Handicap, the Craven Plate, the Rawson Stakes, the All-Aged Stakes, the Chelmsford Stakes and the Cameron Handicap.
In late August 1922 press reports stated that Beauford had been heavily supported for that year’s Melbourne Cup, having ruled as favourite since weights were announced, but that he would not run as his owner and trainer had decided to focus on weight-for-age races.
Beauford v Gloaming – To Decide “Best Horse in Australia”
Whilst Beauford is acknowledged as a champion performer on the turf in his own right, it is his clashes with another great racehorse, the gelding Gloaming foaled a year earlier than Beauford, which set the racing world alight at the time and are still remembered as legendary today.
Some say the four times these two horses competed against each other was a planned contrivance set up at the start of the 1922 Sydney spring carnival by Mr G D Greenwood, the Kiwi owner of Gloaming who at that stage had raced 48 times for 42 wins, and Mr W H Mackay, the owner of Gloaming’s younger and rising rival. The two owners decided to race their horses against each other four times in the spring to decide which was the best horse in Australia. Each owner considered that their horse could not be beaten by any horse other than that of the other owner. This proved to be correct!
Round One – The Chelmsford Stakes (about 1800m, WFA)
The Newcastle horse was 10/9 on and Gloaming 2/1. The rider of Gloaming tried to pinch a break on the home turn of the Sydney Tattersalls track but Beauford gradually drew level and grabbed Gloaming on the line to win by ¼ of a length. The first of the other 14 well performed weight-for-age horses was beaten by 12 lengths.
Round Two – The Hill Stakes (about 1600m, Handicap)
One week later at Rosehill, Gloaming had a 7lb pull in the weights. Racegoers’ interest in the clash had gained momentum following the Chelmsford epic and a near record crowd turned up. Both horses started at odds-on, a remarkable occurrence. Gloaming fought hard to beat Beauford by a length and set a course record. The third horse was 8 lengths away.
Round Three – The Spring Stakes (about 2400m, WFA)
The crowd at Randwick two weeks later was so large that racegoers had difficulty moving. It was reported that thousands of Beauford’s supporters “had journeyed from the coalfields of Newcastle”. Odds of 10/9 on was the starting price of the joint favourites. The two champions battled each other for the entire race with Beauford prevailing by a neck over Gloaming and the others a long way behind. The finish of the great race is immortalized in the famous painting by Martin Stainforth which is displayed at Randwick Racecourse today.
Round Four – The Craven Plate (about 2000m, WFA)
Although this 16 horse race was staged at a mid-week meeting 60,000 patrons squeezed into Randwick to witness the final contest to determine either a 3 to 1 decision in favour of Newcastle’s finest, or a 2 all draw. And a draw it was with Gloaming gradually wearing down Beauford and pulling away to win by 3 lengths. Both horses started at even money and the rest of the field was distanced.
After the four race series, Gloaming went on to win another 13 races, racing until he was nine.
However, the final clash with Gloaming seemed to exhaust Beauford’s exalted reserves of stamina and he had ten more starts for only one win, the Cameron Stakes at Newcastle. He died at 23 at a property on the mid-north coast, just north of Newcastle.
Clearly, Beauford was regarded as a champion racehorse that hailed from Newcastle and drew his popular mass support from Novocastrians. In the years just following the Great War, when towns like Newcastle were coming to grips with the losses of the lives of so many of its young men, it must have provided some diversion from the miseries of those times to marvel at the exploits of this wonderful thoroughbred hometown hero.
The Beauford Club of Newcastle, 35 years young, proudly honours in its name the name of this local equine immortal.