A Century of Thoroughbred Breeding Excellence

A Century of Thoroughbred Breeding Excellence

Filed in Sports Recent by Elizabeth Flaherty May 28, 2016

See: http://scone.com.au/century-of-thoroughbred-excellence/

See: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/positano-and-a-century-of-breeding/

Featured Image: ‘Shannon’ at Spendthrift

By Harley Walden & Brian Russell

Two of the horses walked from Percy Miller’s Kia Ora stud in the Segenhoe Valley near Scone to the railhead at Aberdeen in 1943 for a shipment to Sydney for the Inglis Easter yearling sales were the Midstream colts Shannon Murray Stream.

A stallion shot of Shannon at Spendthrift Farm, c.1951. Photo courtesy of Keeneland-Meadors.

Shannon ranks as one of Australia’s greatest milers and overseas export.

After winning races in California in world record times, he went to stud and got good winners, before premature death at 14.

Shannon and Murray Stream were among hundreds of winners bred by Miller in thirty years in the first half of last century.

At the time Kia Ora challenged as the biggest and most successful source of winners in the world and on occasions they took over 100 yearlings to the Easter sales.

Sent down several months before the sale, they were either led or driven to the Aberdeen rail station and loaded in special horse boxes on trains.

Off loaded at Sydney’s Darling Harbour, they were then led in the early hours of the morning out to the paddocks then encompassed by the Inglis sale yards at Randwick.

Armounis and jockey Harold Jones at the Futurity Stakes in 1930. Image sourced from wikipedia.

Besides Shannon and Murray Stream, the horses bred on Kia Ora at that time included Windbag which won the Melbourne Cup in Australasian record time, Delta which won the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate and Victoria Derby, Hydrogen which won the Cox Plate twice and Amounis which won 33 races and for a short time was Australia’s leading money  earner.

One historic galloper who wasn’t sired on Kia Ora, although they often get the credit, is Peter Pan, winner of the Melbourne Cups of 1932 and 1934.

He was bred by Rodney Dangar of Singleton from a mating with Pantheon with the Dangar owned mare Alwina.

Pantheon, the import who finished third in the 1926 Melbourne Cup, and stood initially at the Kingsfield Stud.

Moved next door to Kia Ora the next year, Pantheon got Peter Pan from his one season at the Kingsfield Stud, one which subsequently had much of its country swallowed up by Glenbawn dam.

Peter Pan’s dam may have been railed to Aberdeen then walked to Kingsfield.

Kia Ora was part of a 10,000 acre grant in a valley served by the Hunter and Pages rivers provided to English businessman and politician Thomas Potter Macqueen in the early 1820s after it had been surveyed by Rodney Dangar’s grandfather Henry Dangar.

Established for Macqueen by Peter MacIntyre, the valley was called Segenhoe after Macqueen’s birthplace Segenhoe Manor.

In 1862 they stood the first thoroughbred sire in the Hunter Valley, an English bred stallion named Crawford.

As there were very likely a few mares in the region as early as 1820, the Hunter Valley celebrates over 200 years as horse breeding country.

One of the greatest Hunter Valley bred horse of early last century was the 1916 foaled Beauford, the winner of 17 races.

He ran four times against the icon performer Gloaming and beat him twice.

He was bred by the Mackay family, owners for over half a century of the Tinagroo stud northwest of Scone.

In the 1950s Tinagroo stood the English import Lighthouse 11, the sire of the all-conquering Australian champion Sailor’s Guide.

Another branch of the Mackay family produced in the Upper Hunter Royal Sovereign, winner in 1964-65 of the AJC, VRC and QTC Derby’s and second in the Caulfield Cup.

One of their properties joined Sledmere stud at Scone, the one on which Sailor’s Guide was raised.

He followed up wins in the Victoria Derby and Sydney Cup by being awarded the Washington DC International in America after being second across the line.

In the same year that Beauford was foaled, a horse produced on Camyr Allyn on the southern side of Scone went on to be a giant of Australian racing.

He was Eurythmic and he won 31 of his 47 starts, including top races in Perth and Melbourne.

A rival of Eurythmic and Beauford was Poitrel, a winner of the Melbourne Cup under ten stone (63.5kgs).

He was bred by the Moses brothers, then owner of Arrowfield Stud, now Coolmore, at Jerrys Plains.

They were leading breeders for 20 years early last century and included among the horses they bred Heroic, an outstanding galloper and seven times champion sire.

Ajax won 18 races straight. Photo from wikipedia.

Bred on Widden, one of his sons, Ajax, won 18 races straight.

One of the early champions raised by the Moses on Arrowfield was Poseidon (1903), but they bought him as a foal at foot with his dam off Rodney Dangar when he broke up the Neotsfield Stud near Singleton in 1904.

As a 3-year-old Poseidon won 14 races, including the AJC Derby, Victoria Derby, Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup and VRC and AJC St Legers.

He backed up to take the Caulfield Cup again at four, but could only manage to finish eight under the burden of ten stone three pounds in his second attempt at the Melbourne Cup.

In the same decade that Poseidon won the Melbourne Cup, the great staying test was taken out by four Hunter Valley bred horses, namely Lord Cardigan which won at three in 1903 and a close second to another Hunter runner, Acrasia, in 1904, Lord Nolan (1908) and Prince Foote (1909).

Lord Cardigan and Lord Nolan were both bred and raced by a Maitland identity, John Mayo, and were Dangar’s imported sire Positano, a son of the world’s leading sire of early last century, St Simon. Positano also sired Piastre,which won the 1912 Melbourne Cup and Mooltan which came second in 1907.

The biggest source of winners in the Hunter Valley in the quarter century 1950-75 was Woodlands stud. In that era it was under the ownership of George Ryder, the father of the Golden Slipper and stood a number of good sires, including Newtown Wonder and Pipe of Peace.

For 20 years from the mid-1980s, Woodlands in the ownership of the Inghams, became one of the biggest breeding operations in the world.

One of the horses they bred and raced was Lonhro, an Australian Horse of the Year and now a champion sire.

Several years ago, Inghams sold their thoroughbred empire to Sheikh Mohammed Maktoum, a ruler of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and one of the world’s leading stud, broodmare and racehorse owners, for a price reportedly close on half a billion dollars.

He had already established the Darley stud near Aberdeen.

Darley is one of the big players in a revolution in horse breeding and racing that has elevated the Hunter Valley in the current century into one of the world’s greatest thoroughbred regions, both in the quality of the products and the showplace appearance of its studs.

They include two of the world’s ever thoroughbred operations, Darley and Ireland headquarters Coolmore, John Messara headed Arrowfield, Vinery (formerly Segenhoe), Emirates Park (also Dubai owned), Widden and newcomer Newgate Farm.

The Hunter Valley’s use of visiting sires took off in 1990 with the debut appearance of Danehill a champion European 3-year-old sprinter who went on to be Australian champion sire a record nine times and to become the biggest force in Australian breeding history.

  • Special thanks to Brian Russell for his input into this article.

Scone Horse Festival Parade 1986

Scone Horse Festival Parade 1986

Featured Image: Carlton United Brewery Heavy Horse Team 1986 preparing for the parade

Terry Goodyear leads the team which was a very special feature of early Scone Horse Festival Parades. I think this was the 2nd such cavalcade and I was actually the second Horse Festival VIP? I’m seated on the left behind Terry. Jack Johnston was very justifiably the inaugural Horse Festival VIP in 1985.

With COVID-cancellation of the Horse Festival Parade in 2021 there are whispers if this event will continue into the future? It’s a very different world to the 1980s. Scone Cup Races are no longer ‘in town’ at White Park. The thoroughbred sales have been ‘abandoned’ leaving a huge gap in what used to be regarded as the building blocks of a ‘Horse Festival’ with 2 days of sales and two of racing. The original idea was predicated first on the old ‘Scone Thoroughbred Week’ which grew out of the first Scone Cup Races and Thoroughbred Sales conducted in 1947. This concept reached a peak through the 1960s and 1970s. The Horse Festival added many other facets some of which might have ‘diluted’ the original winning formula. It’s a lot harder to find unanimous agreement when the ‘number in the tent’ becomes too much of a crowd? Let’s see what a VAXX 2022 might bring to the party? In recent times there appear to have been many more ‘themed’ motor vehicles than actual horses?

Has the horse bolted?

Has the horse bolted?

Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeders Yearling Sales

Featured Image: ‘Horse away’!

The fundamental question is: ‘Has the horse bolted’? Will the 2019 HTBA sale prove to be the last in a long line of successful and economically viable offerings? Both the HTBA and William Inglis & Sons have made the decision to transfer the sale to the Riverside Stables Complex at Warwick Farm ‘in perpetuity’. There are of course many factors at play; not the least of which is COVID-19. However as one of very few original proponents left alive (+ Hilton Cope & David Bath) of the inaugural 1979 sale committee (see below) I confess I rue the decision. I think I’ll leave it there for now? Yes, I am running out of steam; and time!

See also:





HTBA Yearling Sale 40 Years On

Featured Image: Front cover of the catalogue for the HTBA Scone Yearling Sale 12 May 2019

I could start with yet another hoary old cliché; but I won’t! I decided for no good reason to compare the HTBA promoted yearling sales after 40 years of ‘progress’. I have written about the First Annual Scone Yearling Sale before and elsewhere.

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Countess of Dudley Cup Tournament 1985

Countess of Dudley Cup Tournament 1985

See also: https://www.nswpolo.com.au/Assets/Pages/24/Book-of-History-from-1985.pdf 

Clicking on the URL will download the whole document.

Featured Image: Front Cover of the NSW Polo Association (Kyeemagh) Limited’s publication ‘Countess of Dudley Cup Tournament 1985’; A short history of the polo Clubs of NSW and their participation in the Countess of Dudley Cup 1910 – 1985

Acknowledge: NSW Polo Association (Kyeemagh) Limited 1985 Patron, President, Directors and Committees; especially Mrs S R Weedon (nee Bragg, ‘Rossgole’, Aberdeen 2336) who compiled the dossier. Sally’s father Frank Bragg and brother Arthur Bragg were notable players.


“In 1913 Narromine won the Dudley Cup. By way of celebration, history has it that at the “Black Tie” official dinner after the final game, as the presentations by the Governor General (The Earl of Dudley) were taking place, George Mack crept outside to get his horse which had won Champion Pony. He brought it into the room as the officials were preparing for the presentation and he quietly tied his horse’s tail to the tablecloth. On receiving his pony trophy, he mounted his pony, in full dinner suit, and rode out of the hall, taking with him the tablecloth, flowers and all the silver”.

Simply not done old chap? Well, not at Hurlingham perhaps but maybe @ Narromine! I must remember to ask George Mack of ‘Weemabah’, Trangie if this is true of his grandfather when I next him next?


Sally’s impeccable record is a gem. Admittedly Polo was the chosen sport of the ‘Exclusives’ as opposed to the ‘Emancipists’. As an impecunious immigrant pommy I would say that wouldn’t I? I did marry into the milieu and my spouse Sarah is closely related to Bill Mackay (Great Uncle), Bob Mackay (Father), Ken Mackay (Uncle), Jamie Mackay (Cousin) and Jock Mackay (Jamie’s son).

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/the-mackay-skene-family/

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/perfect-polo/

Scone Cup Presentation 1968

Adjuncts to ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’

With webmaster Teresa Herbert’s very able assistance I have just managed to launch my monograph series entitled ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’. No sooner had I completed the upload than I discovered some notable omissions. This is my none-too-subtle attempt to redress the balance and partially retrieve the errors? One thing that strikes me is that there is a certain ‘dignity’ which used to prevail? Maybe we have lost something; or am I simply an even more irrelevant old curmudgeon?

Featured Image: Presentation for Scone Cup 1968, 9 furlongs, Saturday 15th June 1968, won by ‘Income Tax’; owned by Messrs S N Nivison Snr and A S Gill; trained by R Martin, Walcha; ridden by B Hill; by Epistle (imp) ex Expensive; Black, Yellow Sleeves, Lilac Sleeves and Cap; won by 3 lengths and 1 length from Zozima (W Wade) and Blue Bette (J Ollerton). Time 1 min 51.7 secs.

This was my first Scone Cup having arrived ‘down under’ on 03/10/67. Simon Nivison became a good friend. He bred and raced Golden Slipper winner ‘Inspired’ (1984). Spouse Jill (nee Tait) co-bred and owned champion stayer ‘Tie the Knot’. Sir Alister McMullin helped me a lot. He owned ‘St Aubins’, was President of the Senate (Canberra) and first Chancellor of the University of Newcastle. Harry Hayes was a ‘local legend’ and very prominent citizen. It helps to know a few; especially if you’re ‘Ten Pound Pom’!

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Scone Lightning Stakes 1963

Adjuncts to ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’

With webmaster Teresa Herbert’s very able assistance I have just managed to launch my monograph series entitled ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’. No sooner had I completed the upload than I discovered some notable omissions. This is my none-too-subtle attempt to redress the balance and partially retrieve the errors? One thing that strikes me is that there is a certain ‘dignity’ which used to prevail? Maybe we have lost something; or am I simply an even more irrelevant old curmudgeon?

Featured Image: Presentation for Scone Lightning Stakes 1963, 5 furlongs, Wednesday 15th May 1963,  won by ‘Playpen’; owned by Messrs F W Thompson & F L Bragg; trained by Eric Flett, Scone; ridden by George Moore; by Edmundo (imp) ex Joy Restraint; Gree, White Sleeves and Cap; won by half a length and a neck from Blazeden (P Burnett) and Grand Apple (W Rowbottom). Time 62.7 secs.

Bim Thompson succeeded his father as master of Widden and achieved ‘greatness’ in attracting leading sires Todman, Lunchtime, Vain (Champion), Bletchingly (Champion) and setting it up for ‘Marscay’ (Champion). George Moore (owner of Yarraman Park) rode ‘Royal Palace’ to victory in the 1967 Epsom Derby (England). Frank Bragg and Harry Hayes were both Alpha-male identities in racing as was Derek Glasgow (AJC).

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Scone Lightning Stakes 1968

Adjuncts to ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’

With webmaster Teresa Herbert’s very able assistance I have just managed to launch my monograph series entitled ‘Treasured Valley Vignettes’. No sooner had I completed the upload than I discovered some notable omissions. This is my none-too-subtle attempt to redress the balance and partially retrieve the errors? One thing that strikes me is that there is a certain ‘dignity’ which used to prevail? Maybe we have lost something; or am I simply an even more irrelevant old curmudgeon?

Featured Image: Presentation for Scone Lightning Stakes 1968, 5 furlongs, Saturday 15th June 1968,  won by ‘Friendly Joy’; owned by Mr H R Hayes; trained by Victor Oakes, Muswellbrook; ridden by Bill Wade; by Nautilus (imp) ex Joy Zone; Pale Blue, Purple Sash and Cap; won by 2 lengths and 1length from Star Bright (M Eveleigh) and Gynbeau (J Ollerton). Time 59.3 secs.

John Inglis was the ‘rock’ of the thoroughbred industry and a great friend to Scone. Harry Hayes and Bill Wade were both ‘champions’ and shared common ground throughout the Newcastle Hunter & Central Coast Racing Association. Miss Margaret Johns was a ‘champion filly’ from Newcastle who married locally. Her father Dr Kevin Johns was on the NJC Committee with Harry Hayes and Roy Mahoney.

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Australian Bloodhorse Bulletin September 1975

Australian Bloodhorse Bulletin September 1975

Featured Image: Semi-final sires’ statistics for the 1974-75 season

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

This ephemeral publication was the ‘bible’ for thoroughbred breeding and racing aficionados at the time. The AJC Racing Calendar was the other. It was published roughly quarterly by the Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association of Australia.

Admittedly this is strictly not comparing identical ‘like-with-like’ but the stark trends are there. The most significant ‘drift’ is to be found in the overall numbers. Representation on the race track for stallions today is as much as 8x the average 40+ years ago. Clearly this is reflective of the number of mares covered by the leading stallions in any one season. Remarkably the aggregate number of individual 2yo winners was established by Without Fear the following year (1975/1976) with a grand total of 30. This record still stands today although recently challenged (but not surpassed) by both Snitzel (2019/20 = 28) and I Am Invincible (2018/19 = 27); each of whom covered at least 4x/5x the number of mares in any one season.

The leading sires list features Oncidium (NZ) as leading the tribe. While I can count c. 9 NSW-based sires Convamore (Segenhoe) is the highest ranked at six. There are almost as many NZ-based sires in the first 20 as there are NSW-based stallions.

My fundamental question is: “How will all this impact on the diversity of the ‘national herd’ of thoroughbred broodmares in the longer term”? Are we heading for a genetically narrower collective ‘camarilla’ of more modern speedy squibs?

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Without Fear & QE II in 1976

Without Fear & QE II in 1976

Featured Image: ‘Without Fear’, Colin Hayes and Queen Elizabeth II at Lyndsay Park on 26 February 1976

These were heady ‘Royalist’ times with imperialism not yet fully consigned to the scrap heap of history. Queen Elizabeth II has always been intensely interested in thoroughbred racing and breeding. She has enjoyed enormous success herself with some assistance from the National Stud; a unique UK institution. Isn’t it fortunate that King Charles II took such an avid interest himself and virtually ‘created’ the Newmarket myth?

In 1976 imported sire Without Fear (Baldric ex Never Too Late) was a sensation at Lyndsay Park in the Barossa Valley SA with his first crop of 2yos. He created a record then with 30 winning individuals racing in the 1975/1976 season. The record still stands despite the claims of the ‘Snitzel’ ‘set’ in season 2015/2016. Colin Hayes was the master strategist. He orchestrated the entire program. However Without Fear also produced many outstanding individuals such as champion filly ‘Dual Choice’.

The Australian Government of the day under Malcolm Fraser decided to present QE II with the slightly sycophant gift of a Without Fear yearling to celebrate her 25th jubilee as ruling monarch. It seemed like a ‘racing certainly’ at the time and sure fire success? However despite the best brains having input to its selection “Australia Fair’ subsequently proved to be an abject failure as a racehorse and something of an embarrassment with such a well-branded name?

Royal Hub-capping II

Royal Hub-capping II

With my tongue firmly embedded in my cheek I wrote a rather brazen ‘blog’ on Royal Hub-capping featuring a Polo chukka at the old Yarrandi Polo Ground in 1966. Matching it on the paddock were HRH Prince Charles and local ‘squire’ John Archibald of ‘Dunwell’. I knew one of them.

See: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/royal-hub-capping/

I’ve just discovered another occasion when HRH connected on the Polo grounds; on this occasion at the Isis River Club. Brenda ‘Bra’ Ogilvy was then very much part of the scene.

Featured Image: Brenda Ogilvy (NZ) and HRH Prince Charles exchange pleasantries and replacement Polo sticks. I wonder what was said?

Brenda always was and still is ‘well grounded’; please excuse the intended pun? Although then wedded to events at Belltrees Brenda has now relocated to ‘Glorious Gundy’ (no relation to ‘Goodwood’) and a fully fitting job at Bengalla Mine, Muswellbrook. She is/was also fundamental in arranging ‘Mental Herd Health’ sessions for local farmers et al on Friday evenings at the Linga Longa all during the record drought. I was greatly honoured to be the invited guest speaker at one of them.

Prince Charles was not the first member of the Saxe/Coburg/Gotha tribe to visit Scone. His great grandfather preceded him in 1901.

See: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/duke-of-york-visit-to-scone-1901/

The essential elements of Royal Hub-capping I were:

It would be hard to top a future monarch as a social coup, wouldn’t it? This is exactly what the Scone Polo Club (who else) was able to do on more than one occasion. HRH Prince Charles had attended school at the ‘Timbertop’ campus of Geelong Grammar. ‘Wing Nut’ knew what to expect. He was the appreciative recipient of the special hospitality provided by the White Family of ‘Belltrees’.

My good friend Racehorse Trainer Pat Farrell of Muswellbrook was the first to introduce me to the sobriquet ‘hubcap’. It derived from those he perceived as ‘hanging around the big wheels’. He applied it to a local Stud Master who he thought was always a trite ‘uppity’. He called him ‘Hubcap Jack’. There were some good reasons for this appellation. Pat also referred to the professionals who resided at Skellatar Heights as living on ‘Snob Knob’ or ‘Pill Hill’! Maybe Pat had a bit of a complex? He was described as being of ‘Bog Irish’ appearance if that’s a clue?

Prince Charles was just ‘one of the boys’ in this scenario and fitted in beautifully. My spouse Sarah was introduced to him on this occasion as an ingénue of 14 years. Sadly she had to settle for very much less almost 10 years later! I think my mother-in-law was devastated?

Incredibly (for those interested in history) ‘Yarrandi’ was the property visited by the ‘Birdman’ John Gould and his wife Elizabeth in 1839. The property was then owned by Elizabeth’s brothers from Kent; the Coxens.

I don’t know what Pat Farrell would have called HRH Prince Charles if he’d met him? It was never likely. He did come up later with an even more derogatory nick name: ‘Tow Bar’ as in bringing up the rear or hanging off the coat tails of the upwardly mobile! I could list a few. The great thing about Pat is that he never considered himself to be part of any underclass!