Geoff and Beryl White
Photo: Geoff White and the Author with the 5 Melbourne Cups
One of Australia’s most successful owner/breeder combinations chose to call Scone home in their twilight years. They were Geoff and Beryl White. Their story is inspiring; their road to success astounding. The thoroughbred racing and breeding industry has always regarded Geoff & Beryl as a team. It’s perfectly true. Geoff was first to go and Beryl prevails. I will restrict this dissertation to Geoff who I knew better.
I was privileged to serve with Geoff on many committees since he established his Scone base in 1994. Before that we were both Councillors on the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. Geoff had a lot to do with the horse committee and the new developments at the RAS of NSW. As an engineer his skills were much in demand for the relocation from Moore Park to Homebush Bay. The new Sydney Showgrounds were completed within 364 days in time for the first opening at the new venue in 1998. It was a modern day miracle. Geoff was always confident it could be done. He was right. The site needed to be ready for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The three Royal Easter Shows leading up to the Olympics (1998, 1999, 2000) were the dress rehearsals. Its history now what a fabulous Olympic Games Sydney provided.
Back in Scone Geoff was a tower of strength on the Hunter Valley Equine Research Foundation and Centre. In fact he was their salvation. He implemented more than one rescue package when most needed without any fuss or fanfare. His taciturn wisdom could always be relied upon for many other projects involving racing, sales and education. I was very pleased with his presence on more than one occasion when the meretricious element threatened to take over. Geoff was always pragmatic; forever practical. Sound common sense prevailed.
I recall sitting next to Des Gleeson at the opening of our Melbourne Cup extravaganza on Friday 15th October 2010. Geoff and Beryl walked in just as proceedings were about to start. Des immediately recognised them. It added enormous cachet to have people of their calibre in the assembly. The credibility indicator went through the ceiling at that time. Amanda Elliott was also very quick on the uptake. I felt very good indeed with a glow of inner warmth.
As usual with other racing luminaries I rely on my journalist cadre to provide the professional commentary. Thank you again Brian Russell and Allan Wells with Harriet Veitch.
Brian Russell Racing Sports July 2012
Geoff White Leaves a Lasting Legacy
Few owners or breeders have had as much success or cast such influence over Australian racing and breeding than the late Geoff White
In the last thirty years, Geoff White, who died at the age of 81 on July 8, and his wife Beryl bred 380 horses for 301 runners and 66 per cent winners.
Including bought performers that raced in their famous white, purple star and hooped sleeves colours their runners include 13 winners of 25 Group1 races, nine of them home bred.
Also their horses, the bulk of which have been trained by the late Jack Denham or his son Alan, have won 39 Group 2 races and 22 at Group 3 level.
The White got serious about racing after their Golden Slipper success in 1982 with Marscay, a $50,000 purchase at a Sydney yearling sale.
They opened up with Robrick Lodge, a boutique horse farm in the Hawkesbury Valley near Sydney, and then in 1994 acquired a jewel of the Hunter Valley, Bhima Stud on the outskirts of Scone.
They added the 800 acre neighbouring historic Invermien property to the 600 acres covered by Bhima, the home for Biscay for most of his stud career, and rejuvenated the merged properties into one of Australia’s top broodmare farms under the management of their son Greg White.
Both properties are now on the market.
Besides his input as breeder and owner, Geoff White made a significant contribution to racing at Scone and was instrumental in helping establish the Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre.
He served as a director of the Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association of NSW and also as Councillor on the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW in Sydney.
Born in western NSW at Hillston, Geoff White became one of Australia’s leading civil engineers and through his company White Industries was responsible for the construction of many famous public buildings, including the National Art Gallery, High Court of Australia and the National Mint in Canberra.
He was also involved in projects in Singapore, Fiji and India.
A recipient of the Order of Australia Geoff White is survived by Beryl, son Greg and daughters Helen, Sue and Judy, and also grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The Whites had the rare distinction of owning a place-getter of Australia’s richest race the Melbourne Cup and a winner of the 2yo Golden Slipper Stakes.
They owned the 1982 Golden Slipper winner Marscay, one of the first horses they raced, and in 2000 finished second in the Melbourne Cup with Yippyio.
The Whites bred Yippyio using the G1 Canterbury Guineas winner Interstellar and their Marscay mare Yodells.
They retained part of Marscay when he went into service at Widden Stud where he became a champion sire and a big breeding influence.
Yodells was one of the Marscays the Whites bred and raced. She was a winner in Sydney and Brisbane and second in the G2 Wakeful Stakes and third in the G1 VRC Oaks at Flemington.
Yodells produced two good for the Whites in Yippyio (won 14 races including the Queensland Derby, Queensland Guineas, Brisbane Cup and Moonee Valley Cup) and the Last Tycoon colt Iglesia (six wins included the Silver Slipper Stakes).
Deceased at only eleven, Iglesia became another good sire raced by the Whites.
He stood at the Oaklands stud near Toowoomba and included in his offspring Written Tycoon, the sire of Howmuchdoyouloveme, the winner of this week’s $150,000 Ramornie Handicap at Grafton.
Two other brilliant Marscays bred and raced by the Whites were the brothers Jetball (7 wins, G1 Galaxy) and Marwina (5 wins, Stan Fox Stakes; AJC Breeders’ Plate, second Caulfield Guineas).
They have both sired good winners.
Two of the greatest gallopers the Whites bred and raced that resulted from their investment in Marscay were his daughter Triscay (15 wins, five Group1s) and Eremein (12 wins, five Group 1s).
The gelded Eremein is a son of Timber Country and Marrego, a Marscay mare who at two won in Sydney and finished second in the Silver Slipper.
Sydney Morning Herald Geoff White 1931 – 2012 January 14 2013
Engineer built up racing industry
Geoff White loved to build. He was one of Australia’s leading civil engineers and his group of companies, White Industries, constructed roads, bridges, power stations and civic buildings around the country and internationally.
He also loved racing. He and his wife, Beryl, were among Australia’s leading horse breeders and racers. Their interest started just after their marriage, although at the first meeting they attended, they lost so much money they had to walk home.
In 1976, they raced their first horses and from there, their thoroughbreds, with jockeys emblazoned in white, purple star and hooped sleeves, won hundreds of races, including 18 group 1s. Their horse Marscay, now considered one of the country’s greatest broodmare sires, won the Golden Slipper in 1982 and Marscay’s daughter Triscay won 15 of her 26 starts, five at group 1 level, including the 1991 Australian Guineas, and AJC Australian Oaks, earning almost $2 million in prizemoney.
In 1994, the Whites bought the Bhima stud with the neighbouring historic property Invermien, near Scone. They merged the two properties into the broodmare farm Invermien and had up to 100 horses, 35 of them broodmares. Nearly all the White horses were trained by Jack Denham until his death in 2009. The Whites sold the property last year.
Geoffrey Bernard White was born in Hillston, in western NSW, on February 24, 1931 and at 16 worked as a labourer for his father, constructing timber road bridges for the nearby Wakool Shire Council. The shire engineer, Clive Monk, was impressed by the lad and it was through his influence and encouragement that White embarked on his civil engineering career.
After leaving high school, White started work as a cadet for the NSW Department of Main Roads while he completed a correspondence course in civil engineering. He then went into local government and municipal work to eventually be a registered shire engineer. He remained in local government until 1963 and, in 1954, married Beryl Peterson from Deniliquin.
In 1963, White answered the government call for involvement in major civil engineering construction projects, and over the next four years he was project manager on a section of the Newcastle to Sydney expressway, the Liddell Power Station road deviation and the Liddell Power Station cooling water dam. However, White also envisaged the day when he would have his own company.
In 1967, White went into partnership to form Birdsall and White Constructions Pty Ltd, then in 1969 he acquired full ownership and renamed it G.B. White Pty Ltd. In 1972, he also founded White Industries Ltd. By 1979, he was chairman and chief executive of the White Industries group of companies, which included construction, building, mining, project management, construction management, infrastructure, building and mining development projects.
The group’s works include the Douglas Park and Pheasants Nest bridges on the M5; Canberra’s High Court, National Gallery, National Mint and Convention Centre buildings; housing blocks in Singapore; development of the Ulan coalmine, construction of the Ulan-Sandy Hollow-Denman-Muswellbrook railway; and development of the Piparwar coalmine in India.
Away from work and horses, White was an active supporter of the Institution of Engineers Australia. From 1967 to 1971, he was secretary and chairman of the Newcastle division of the institution, and in 1996 he was elected an honorary fellow.
He was also a committee member of the Australian Federation of Construction Contractors for some years and a councillor to the Employers Federation and the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. He was deeply involved in the planning and design of the relocation of the agricultural society from Moore Park to Homebush.
In 1996, the Australian Constructors Association presented White with the inaugural services to construction award. In 1998, he was appointed an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia, for service to the business community and the advancement of the thoroughbred racing industry.
Geoff White is survived by Beryl, their children, Helen, Sue, Greg and Judy, 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Alan Wells with Harriet Veitch