ANZAC Day @ ‘Tinagroo’

ANZAC Day @ ‘Tinagroo’

Featured image: The ‘march past’ in the gardens @ Tinagroo by the Cardiff RSL Pipe Band; Ken Smith is banging the big drum. Sarah and I were married under the tree on the lawn behind the band and the ‘Marching Koalas’ on 26th April 1975. This is of course the day after ANZAC Day. One of the band from the Cardiff RSL team stayed behind one extra day to star as the ‘Lone Piper’ at our wedding.

The younger ‘kilted’ acolytes are Kirsty Howey, Hugh Howey (‘products’ of above), Scott Davies and Henry Davies. The year was roughly 1982?

The ANZAC tradition was rigidly observed and richly enhanced every year at ‘Tinagroo’ homestead. Owner/grazier Bob Mackay was patron of the band while Murray Bain was the equivalent titular head of the City of Newcastle Pipe Band. It was the tradition then for the visiting band to assemble on ANZAC eve at the Scone RSL Club where they were all billeted for the night. It was a risky plan! An early start was made for the 6:00am dawn service at the Lone Pine cenotaph. Squealing pipes and pounding drums were no help to acute, per-acute and chronic hangovers! The Gundy Service and March were next on the agenda at 9:00am when breakfast was served for the stoical champions with staunch resilience. The Scone Service and March to the War Memorial in Kelly Street was timed for mid-morning by which time some tongues were hanging out! The rest of the day was given over to assembly @ Tinagroo homestead where the hospitality was traditionally lavish. Ponty Mackay always managed to produce a quality meal of gigantic proportions. It was great day out for the gourmands as well as the gourmets! Athol Brose and Triple Malt Scotch assuaged the palate of the ‘true believers’. By late evening everyone was happy when the designated drivers took over for the long haul back to Newcastle. On one infamous occasion ‘Black Douglas’ failed to make it ‘over and out’ of Thompson’s Creek!

Like many such noble traditions this seminal event died with the inexorable passage of time and the demise of the principal players; on both sides. ANZAC Day @ Tinagroo is consigned to the realms of history together with its prime protagonists. We are that much poorer for their passing.

Message from Local Resident Gerry Harvey

Message from Local Resident Gerry Harvey

Gratefully acknowledge Di Sneddon & ‘The Hunter Valley Times’


Foreword (WPH):

It’s exactly 54 years since I arrived in the Upper Hunter Valley from a far different and very distant place. Over a long, long week end in early October 1967 I traversed the globe from NW Ireland, Northumberland, London, USA (Boston, Washington, San Francisco), Trans Pacific (Honolulu, Fiji, Auckland NZ) to Sydney via Brisbane on to Scone. On the very first day with my new employer I was taken to ‘Baramul’ in the Widden Valley. It was then owned by Sydney Solicitor A O Ellison. I distinctly recall it as a ‘magical mystery tour’ even to this day. I thought it was the most unspoiled and physically stunning location I had ever seen in my limited lifespan. I still think so; as do Gerry Harvey and Di Sneddon! Thank you both for sharing this moving tribute. I have never met Gerry Harvey. I may be mistaken but I think one of the very first thoroughbreds acquired by this most leviathan of owners was a filly called ‘Selsey’? She was bred and raised by the late Stanley Wootton; also at ‘Baramul’.

Also on this website I have paid tribute to ‘Baramul’ in many different formats including:

Also in ‘Blogs’

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‘Joannina’ Wins at Scone

‘Joannina’ Wins at Scone

Featured Image: Hunter Valley News report ‘Favourites Prevail at Scone’.

See also:

Iconic fictional racing author Dick Francis stated presciently in one of his many popular books ‘Breeders are dreamers of dreams’. He was so right! With the success of Bletchingly firmly established our local trifecta of Pat Farrell, Hilton Cope plus the author were supremely confident that their combined part-purchase (60%) of his first-crop sprinting star Pilgrim’s Way would further embellish the trail of gold! The latter was Bletchingly’s first sire son to go to stud. His lucky co-owners were breeder Tiggy Moses, Wallace Munro and Murray Cole who retained 40%. We had the right stud: ‘Yarraman Park’.

Alas the alchemy did not work out to perfection? While no failure Pilgrim’s Way was a modest success at best. His first winner is featured in the image above. Sarah and I selected ‘Joannina’s dam ‘Mellessini’ (Convamore/Farsak II) as a yearling and were able to purchase her at a manageable price. She was from the famous ‘Sappho’ family so beloved by F K ‘Darby’ Mackay. Significantly her only win was the First Division of a 1000m Maiden at Scone. Things pretty much stayed that way.

We actually also bred the record-winning (number of races won) progeny of ‘Pilgrim’s Way’. ‘California Express’ was out of ‘Beyond All’, a close relation on ‘Lowland’ and won 28 races; admittedly mainly on the Queensland Country and Provincial circuits. It’s still a lot of wins! He was a three-quarter brother in blood to our record breaking yearling colt Bletchingly/Beyond All ($105,000:00) who raced as ‘Norseman’ and succeeded in a winter mid-week race at Canterbury when trained by T J Smith.

Thoroughbred Breeding Statistics from 1981 (‘40 Years On’)

Thoroughbred Breeding Statistics from 1981 (‘40 Years On’)

Featured Image: The Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association of Australia News Bulletin September 1981

The Leading Sires List (1981) was a great triumph for the local (Australian bred) sires. Five of the top 10 seven were bred in Australia. The list again showed the dominance of the Star Kingdom blood.

The leading sire was Bletchingly who was also leading sire in 1980. This is a remarkable record for a sire with only three crops racing. He had 35 winners of 92 races and $623,000:00. It helped that top earner Kingston Town won 4 Stakes Races (MVRC Cox Plate, AJC Warwick Stakes, STC Sydney Turf Club Cup and Tatts Chelmsford Stakes) plus a second and a third from 5 starts and $212,325:00. A horse I bred ‘Bakerman’ (ex-Breadline by Honey Line IRE) won 5 races in Brisbane including the BATC King George VI Stakes and $34,500:00. ‘Super Spree’ (Ex-Royal Lark) by Comic Court) won 8 races and $48,300:00. Kingston Town’s full brother ‘Private Thoughts’ won 3 ½ races in Sydney and Brisbane including the QTC XXXX Quality Handicap and $32,450:00.

Second leading sire was Kaoru Star. He had 50 winners of 112 races and $607,543:00. His best was ‘Full On Aces’ (Colt ex-Better Draw by Better Boy), winner of the AJC Sires Produce Stakes, VRC Sires Produce Stakes, STC Golden Slipper Stakes , 2 seconds and a third from 7 starts and $227,150:00. Kaoru Star was also Leading Sire of Two-Year-Old Winners featuring ‘Full On Aces’ having previously won in 1976-77 year when represented by champion Luskin Star.

Vain (Widden Stud) was fourth on the General Sires List with 57 winners of 139 races and $492,718:00. Planer Kingdom finished fifth with 37 winners of 67 races and $490,606:00.

Osmunda finished second on the Two-Year-Old Winners list with 9 winners of 14 races and $183,510:00. ‘Black Shoes’ was his best ‘get’ who won four races including the VATC Blue Diamond Stakes, AJC Gimcrack Stakes and STC Silver Slipper Stakes for $129,500:00.

The 2020/2021 statistics are as follows:


1 Written Tycoon 379 193 313 12 17 $17,035,983 Ole Kirk, $1,989,050
2 I Am Invincible 358 208 335 12 17 $15,741,201 Libertini, $944,000
3 Not a Single Doubt 236 103 150 8 10 $15,639,605 Classique Legend, $7,132,000
4 Snitzel 319 161 245 13 18 $14,281,120 Wild Ruler, $1,205,200
5 So You Think 266 133 230 12 18 $13,910,170 Think it Over, $1,344,000
6 Fastnet Rock 228 111 177 14 16 $12,316,954 Personal, $1,041,250
7 Zoustar 247 142 217 12 15 $12,295,285 Zoutori, $1,248,000
8 Sebring 330 149 222 10 11 $11,126,586 Nettoyer, $978,000
9 Exceed and Excel 200 99 148 7 10 $10,664,035 Bivouac, $3,452,600
10 All Too Hard 276 138 242 5 11 $10,041,066 Behemoth, $1,751,640

Coquetdale Home Guard FC 1944

Coquetdale Home Guard FC 1944

Featured Image: Coquetdale Home Guard Football Club 1944

See also Howey Family History on this website: and

This would have been a major event at the time. The players were all from the local district and the selected team made up by those who were exempt from National Service during WWII. Most were from the elder cohort of their generation and involved in essential services which included farming and agricultural pursuits. The provision of adequate home grown food was pivotal to success during the extreme exigencies of the war effort both for serving troops and incarcerated urban civilian populations. They included my late father John Howey of East Hepple Farm who was ‘Manager’ of the team. He was 40 years old and had enlisted at the beginning of WWII before being demobilised after 6 months service and sent back to the farm. Edwin Howey of West Hepple Farm who supplied this reference was in the same category.

I actually do remember many of the players. The three Wood brothers Matt, Jim and Alec were related to Eliza Rogerson who worked at both East Hepple and Warton. Dennis Davy was from Warton or a neighbouring farm nearer Thropton. Archie Scott achieved a measure of enduring fame as the trainer of Waterloo Cup Winning (Live Coursing) Greyhound ‘Holystone Lifelong’ at Aintree in 1953. The winner was owned and bred by Major Gus Renwick of Holystone Grange for whom Archie later worked when living at Holystone. It’s a very ‘Coquetdale’ line-up so redolent of the times.

‘Trevors’ & Betty @ Kilmore 1966

‘Trevors’ & Betty @ Kilmore 1966

Page 32, ‘The Sun’, Friday 14 October 1966

Featured Image: Mrs Betty Shepherd gallops ‘Trevors’ on Kilmore Race Track by Ian McPherson

‘Trainers with Cups in their Sights’

“Her Hobby- Training”

There’s something about June Allyson in the broad smile and sparkling eyes of Mrs Betty Shepherd.

And that’s probably the last thing one would expect in the 35-year-old trainer of a Caulfield and Melbourne Cup hope.

For Mrs Shepherd, who has a 15-year old daughter, is a double rarity – a racehorse trainer and a successful one.

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Reg Watts & Norma: Warwick Gold Cup 1938

Reg Watts & Norma: Warwick Gold Cup 1938

Acknowledge: “The Warwick Gold Cup”; ‘Campdrafting Memories and Magic Moments’; Compiled and written by Bev Cheers. Gifted by Reg Watts great nephew Frank Daley from Aberdeen

1938 Cattle Drafting Championship          Warwick               Queensland

Place                     Competitor                        Horse

1st                           R. Watts                               Norma (274)

2nd                          H A Burgess                        Glenisle ( 265)

3rd                           G Duncan                            Pussycat (264)

4th                           R Watts                                Digger (261)

5th                           Boyce & Kilpatrick                Cadet (260)

6th                           R Grace                                Ranch Hero (172)

Judges                  R Munro

Prizemoney        £100       (Includes value of Cup)

Winner Novice Draft

A R Atthow                         Piety

Winner Ladies Draft

H A Burgess                        Glenrock (Ridden by J Burgess)

  • Reg Watts was the first New South Welshman to win the Gold cup
  • Miss Gwen Duncan’s 3rd place in the Gold Cup with Pussycat was the first place in this event by a woman

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HammondCare Dementia Care Home

HammondCare announces plans to build 30-bed dementia care home next to Strathearn House in Scone

Mathew Perry

Local News


Prologue (WPH)

The aged care industry in Scone is huge. It was initially the prescient vision of the late great Dr Walter Pye (‘The Man of the 20th Century’: Audrey Entwisle) who first conceived the idea in c. 1970. It began as the Upper Hunter Village Association and ‘morphed’ into Strathearn Village in 1999/2000. HammondCare took charge in 2016. This next ‘iteration’ is the outcome of planning in the early 2000s which first delivered the construction of Strathearn House and Strathearn Village on Gundy Road.

Aged care provider HammondCare has announced plans to build a 30-bed dementia care home next to its Strathearn House facility in Scone after receiving development approval from Upper Hunter Shire Council.

IN THE PIPELINE: HammondCare has plans to build a 30-bed dementia care home next to its Strathearn House facility in Scone.

Initial works on the ‘cottage-style’ facility will begin in mid-September with the project set to be completed by June next year.

HammondCare Chief Executive Mike Baird said he was delighted the company was able to continue its investment in caring for vulnerable older residents in the Scone region.

“HammondCare has been a leading provider of dementia care for more than 25 years and the new cottage-style home in Scone will benefit from this experience as it provides an enabling, therapeutic environment for people with dementia,” Mr Baird said.

The care home will incorporate dementia-specific design features including single rooms with ensuites, a domestic kitchen and access to outdoor garden spaces for residents.

The new development will also include a new commercial laundry, an expanded administration area and the first stage of a new community centre for HammondGrove independent living residents across Scone.

HammondCare also announced plans to retire its 1980s Strathearn Village care home on Stafford St as part of the project, with current residents to be moved to either Strathearn House or the new facility depending on their care needs.

Mr Baird said consultations have already begun with residents, staff and other stakeholders at Strathearn Village to ensure a well-managed and safe transition over the next 12 months.

“Our top priority is the care of residents and we believe Stafford St residents will be delighted with their new accommodation on Gundy Rd which will provide improved facilities with the same excellent level of care they are accustomed to,” Mr Baird said.

Mr Baird said there would be no job losses associated with the transition and managers will carefully consult with the HammondCare team regarding their future employment arrangements at the Gundy Rd site.

In a statement, HammondCare said the project would help ensure the long-term viability of aged care in Scone by allowing it to consolidate its residential care services on its own land at Gundy Rd site, with the company’s current lease agreement with Hunter New England Local Health for the Stafford St site set to expire within five years.


Racing Legends Unite

Racing Legends Unite

Featured Image: Betty Shepherd and John Letts with the 2019 Melbourne Cup ‘on tour’ in Scone

Betty might have missed out with ‘Trevors’ in 1966 but she wasn’t about to let go of the Melbourne Cup for 2019 in a hurry on Thursday August 08 2019.

It was the annual promotional tour of the Melbourne Cup; a notable publicity triumph for the VRC each year. We had hosted the same event on Friday 15th October 2010 when I played my part as Councillor of the Upper Hunter Shire Council. Des Gleeson was the ambassador then and Amanda Elliott the VRC Committee representative; now Chairman/person.

John Letts was an ‘ideal’ ambassador and played the part to perfection. He won ‘the Cup’ on two occasions: Piping Lane in 1972 and Beldale Ball in 1980. His busy itinerary this year started out at Godolphin (Darley) Stud Aberdeen, Aberdeen Public School, Aberdeen Pre-School, White Park Scone, the Thoroughbred Hotel, Strathearn House and the Linga Longa Inn @ Gundy. What a journey; and what a fitting finale!

John Letts rode over 2,300 winners in a distinguished career and was ‘immortalized’ with his two victories in the Melbourne Cup. In 2019 locally bred ‘Vow and Declare’ triumphed at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November. Mick Malone and his cohort crew at Kitchwin Hills made it a night to remember at the Linga Longa in Gundy! The Cup came home!

John Letts figures (briefly) in video/film ‘A Race of Horses’ on this website.

Betty and the Boxer

Betty Shepherd & Jack Green

Featured Image: Betty Shepherd and Jack Green at Randwick circa 1965

Jack Green took over the training of ‘Trevors’ during Betty Shepherd’s protracted dispute with the Taxation Commissioner of NSW

Glamourous Betty Shepherd had endured a ‘road block’ in her training hobby. She had literally been ‘taken to court’ by the Taxation Commissioner over non-payment of income tax on the winnings of ‘Trevors’ and other privately owned-and-trained gallopers. It was claimed she was ‘conducting a business with the industry of racing’. However Mr Justice Rath, Law Division of the Supreme Court, ruled in favour of Mrs Shepherd and dismissed the appeal by the Taxation Commissioner. Mr Justice Rath said Mrs Shepherd ‘had a love of horses and a passion for them’. He also stated that her betting system profited because of the “obliging habit of ‘Trevors’ (and others) to run true to form”. He ruled that monies received by Mrs Shepherd from prizemoney and wagering in the years 1963 to 1967 ($7,676; $7,512; $23,964; $13,586 and $14,961) ‘were not assesable income’. It’s just possible the Taxation Commissioner had one eye on spouse Archie’s weekly takings? There was a legitimate grocery supply/auction business but also a telephone-linked wagering service. Just musing?

Jack Green was inducted into Racing Hall of Fame in 2009

A member of a famous sporting family, Jack Green excelled as an amateur boxer and rugby footballer before five years’ service in World War II. In 1947, he was granted a NSW trainer’s permit, and began to make his name with a small team of horses, including problem horses such as Silent, Conductor and Winmil, which he restored to winning form.

Green’s career received a huge boost through his association with the progeny of Star Kingdom. The sire’s first two winners, Kingster (AJC Breeders’ Plate) and Ultrablue (AJC Gimcrack Stakes), were both trained by Green, and there was rarely a time when there was not a son or daughter of Star Kingdom in his charge. Among his stable stars were the full brothers Sky High and Skyline, who were bred and raced by AJC Chairman Sir Brian Crowley. Sky High raced for five seasons and won 29 races including the Golden Slipper Stakes, Victoria Derby, Lightning Stakes (twice), Futurity Stakes, Mackinnon Stakes, Caulfield Stakes (twice), AJC All-Aged Stakes and Epsom Handicap. Skyline won four races including the Golden Slipper Stakes, the AJC Derby and the STC Hill Stakes. Other progeny of Star Kingdom to excel under Green’s training were Starover and Gold Stakes.

Green’s greatest training feat was the victory of Baystone in the 1958 Melbourne Cup. He had bought Baystone in 1954 as a yearling and patiently developed him into a strong two mile performer.

Although Green never won the Sydney trainers’ premiership, he was four times second to Tommy Smith, and had some 80 feature race wins to his credit.

Green was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.