Elephant on Track
Featured Image: Elephant crossing a railway track.
Like my post on Chris Winter’s Barbers Shop & Maternity Ward (See: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/chris-winters-barbers-shop-and-maternity-ward/) this is yet another true story pertaining to mysterious and gnomic diversions in Scone.
It was a good race meeting at Scone’s magnificent Satur Track yesterday (Monday 21 August 2023) when the weather Gods were at their kindest and maximal best. There were two minor infractions however, both of which delayed the timing of events. Only one Paramedic was present with the ambulance prior to Race 1. This was rapidly fixed. The second event was a uniquely Australian episode when later in the day grazing kangaroos ‘invaded’ the lush green 1000 Metre Schute. Their presence impeded Race 7 until such time as they were removed.
It reminded me of a few climactic incidents of yesteryear at the ‘old’ White Park Racetrack. White Park was a gift to the borough of Scone by munificent benefactor A H White (‘Belltrees’) in 1924. It was and is a multipurpose sporting venue and recreation facility immediately adjacent to the Railway Line. From 1947 – 1994 it hosted the Scone Race Club. The track was 7 furlongs (1400m) in dimension and boasted a single cinder training track on its outside with no restraining inner rail.
Gill Brother’s Circus were annual visitors to Scone & District and ‘housed’ at White Park. They were incredibly popular callers. Imagine SRC President John Kelso’s incredulous surprise to receive a very early and equally angry telephone call at his Timor Creek home from Scone Trainer Eric Flett who informed him there was ‘an Elephant on the track tied to the running rail’! His horses went berserk, especially when confronted with a camel as well! Unbeknown to John, the Circus had arrived overnight and ‘unloaded’ at their camp inside the racetrack. There was a confrontation of cultures which took some time to resolve. It was almost matched a little later when local resident and solicitor Graham Hook tied his daughter’s donkey to the back fence of his house immediately adjacent to the track. If racehorses don’t like elephants and camels, they like braying donkeys even less!
If it had been trainer Alf Marks reporting the menagerie there was another alternative explanation. The ‘zoo’ of demons, gremlins, torments and fiends could have been in Alf’s mind especially if his good drinking mate Jack Gill (Gill Brothers Circus) had been in town. Very early-morning proponent, teetotaller jockey Herbie Eveleigh had relayed the scenario to an incredulous Eric Flett. He was the first to encounter the errant elephant in the dusky dark of pre-dawn trackwork. I think he stayed in the saddle. Hard to believe? I kid you not!