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!

White Park Finale 24/10/1994

White Park Finale 24/10/1994

Featured Image: The Judge’s Tower on the final day of racing at the old White Park Racecourse in Scone on 24/10/1994

From L to R: David Bath Jack Johnston    Bill Howey           Hilton Cope

During yet another COVID-19 ‘lock-down’ as I write this (23/08/2021) there is ample time for reflection? I found the ‘featured image’ stored in my online pictures file which someone had sent me. I was actually searching for something else!

The photograph reminded me of how much we had gained; and how much we had lost! As the original protagonist (1980) of the absolute need to find a better racing venue I/we are now in a position to ‘take stock’ of where we are at? Unfortunately COVID-19 has decimated attendance at all sporting venues but we are indeed fortunate that the racing authorities have found a way to continue; albeit without public patronage.

The photo reminds me very forcibly indeed of how much fun we used to have when the elected Committee of the Race Club actually ran things! I was the Judge then and Hilton Cope the Assistant Judge. Jack Johnston was official timekeeper. David had succeeded me as Club President in 1984 and was to lead the Club to its new premises at ‘Tarrangower’, Satur the very next month. Now almost 27 years on the Club does not really function as such. Racing NSW dictates just about everything. It appears we ‘locals’ do not have a look in anymore and the Committee at present is reduced to a virtually impotent total of four. Just musing!

Upper Hunter Rugby Union Grand Final 1967

Upper Hunter Rugby Union Grand Final 1967

Featured Image: Upper Hunter Rugby Union Grand Final 1967 (per favour David Bath)

In the lighter blue Scone colours from left to right on the field:

James Clydesdale, Neil Moxham, Peter MacCallum, Robby Lisle, Ken Warner, David Bath, John McDonald, Ned Kater, Bill Rose.

Missing from the picture are other team members:

Peter Rose, Ralph Bryant, David Pinkerton, Ken McConville, Ken MacCallum, Richard Holmes, Mick Hagan

Robbie Lisle was voted the ‘best and fairest’ while Ken Warner was awarded the most improved player trophy.

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NSW government punts $67 million on regional racetrack upgrades

NSW government punts $67 million on regional racetrack upgrades

See also 2020: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/the-rise-and-rise-of-country-racing-in-nsw/

ABC Upper Hunter

By Jake Lapham and Bridget Murphy

Posted Yesterday at 5:31pm

Featured Image: Scone Races ABC Local Radio

See also:

NSW government punts $67 million on regional racetrack upgrades – ABC News

Scone Race Track $20 million upgrade – scone.com.au : scone.com.au

Millions of dollars being poured into race tracks including Scone – AM981 Hunter Valley (2nm.com.au)

$67m boost for NSW country racetracks – Racenet

Millions of dollars being poured into race tracks including Scone – 98.1 Power FM (981powerfm.com.au)

NSW government punts $67 million on regional racetrack upgrades

ABC Upper Hunter

By Jake Lapham and Bridget Murphy

Posted Yesterday at 5:31pm

Regional horse racing is among the big winners of next week’s state budget

ABC Upper Hunter: Jake Lapham

In the largest investment in regional horse racing in a decade, the Berejiklian government will spend $67million on upgrades to racetracks around New South Wales, including a $20million package for Australia’s horse capital, Scone.

Key points:

  • Funding will be allocated to upgrading regional race clubs in the upcoming NSW budget
  • Scone, in the Upper Hunter, will receive a $20 million boost
  • A total of 21 racetracks will see upgrades to grandstands, tracks and stables

Racing NSW CEO Peter V’Landys joined deputy premier John Barilaro, treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Member for the Upper Hunter David Layzell, for the pre-budget announcement at Scone Race Club, which will be receiving a new Polytrack and stables.

Minister for Racing Kevin Anderson said the investment reflected the resilience of the racing industry, which continued to operate through the height of the coronavirus lockdown.

“When you look at the economic benefit that [horse racing] pumps into the state economy, it’s around $1.9billion. Some 14,000 jobs are in racing in regional New South Wales,” Mr Anderson said.

Around the state, 21 racetracks will receive a slice of the budget money, including a $4.2million grandstand upgrade at Muswellbrook as well as new facilities at Cessnock.

Scone Race Club hosts the annual Scone Cup, Australia’s richest country race meeting.

ABC Upper Hunter: Jake Lapham

Horse capital the big winner

Mr V’Landys said plans for $20million of upgrades at Scone Race Club were already under way, and that he hoped they would be completed within two years.

“We’ll build 600 stables straight away. We’ll put the Polytrack in straight away,” he said.

Racing NSW CEO Peter V’Landys hopes to solidify Scone as a hub for regional racing.(

ABC Upper Hunter: Jake Lapham

Polytrack is the brand name of a man-made racing surface consisting of silica sand, Spandex and rubber fibres, which is then covered with wax.

The Racing Minister praised its choice.

“It is consistent, it’s safe, it allows all-weather, fast-track work, rain, hail sleet or snow, seven days a week,” Mr Anderson said.

Racing hub coming together

The suite of racetrack upgrades comes just months after Racing NSW purchased the nearby Scone TAFE site, which it plans to transform into a training centre for the racing industry.

Mr Barilaro said that the investment, the vision, the strategy, and the commitment to the equine industry in the region, put together, was something the state government was “going to absolutely back”.

Scone Race Club chairman Alastair Pulford said he expected the investment to bring the number of people employed in the industry across the Hunter to more than 7,000.

“Wow. It’s going to be hard to wipe the smile off my face for at least a week, but probably a couple of months or longer.”

Posted Yesterday

‘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’.

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