Featured Image: Jack Davidson and his niece Mrs Lorna Murphy taken at Gundy Races about 1946
Acknowledge: “The Davidsons of ‘Spring Vale’” by Daphne Bryden
When researching potentially interesting historical vignettes occasionally a few ‘gems’ leap onto the page. Such was the case with the discovery of the Warialda Sires Produce Stakes in the “Tucka Tucka” Dispersal Sale. I had no idea there were races held at Warialda; or indeed Yetman.
Much closer to home was the revelation of the existence of races at the village of Gundy to the east of Scone. Gundy was the birthplace of renowned ‘feminist’ author Barbara Janet Ainsleigh Baynton, Lady Headley (4 June 1857 – 28 May 1929).
The evidence for the story of Gundy Races turned up in an encomium to legendary local horseman John William ‘Jack’ Davidson of “Spring Vale”, Gundy by Daphne Bryden. Jack Davidson (1875 – 1961) had earned his stripes in the tough school of horse breaking, buckjump riding, rodeo and racehorse breeding and training plus dairy farming. This long career took him from horse education at “Belltrees” to buckjumping championships near Redfern and the race tracks of Sydney. He competed with and against the legends of the showman and western style touring troupes. His contemporaries and competition were Arthur and Jack Dempsey, Lance Skuthorpe, ‘Martini’, Billy Waite and the American ‘Bronco George’; quite a tough school! Later in life Jack succeeded in races at Sydney with the likes of ‘Sirino’ in the Ascot Flying Handicap 2nd Division in May 1928.
Bachelor Jack Davidson passed away in the Scott Memorial Hospital, Scone on 18th August 1961 aged 86 years.
Very much earlier racing had taken place at the Gundy Race Track which according to Anne McPhee was near the original ‘Belvue’ homestead.
Gundy Races 10th March 1886 See: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/18884529
To make St. Patrick’s Day as much of a holiday as possible it was decided to have a day’s racing at Gundy to celebrate the day.
A very meagre attendance saw the opening race, the Maiden Plate, 1½ miles. After a chestnut gelding run his spin of a quarter of a mile, Juan cantered away from him and won by 150 yards.
Mr. B. Houseman’s b c Juan, 6st. 11lbs.(Dodds) 1
Mr. B. Houseman’s b g Sovereign, 9st. 2lb 2
Second Race: Flying Handicap, 1¾ miles, was a walk over for Malta, 8st 6lbs.
The next, the event of the meeting, handicap, 15 sovs., 1½ miles.
Mr. R. Stewart’s ch g Hunter, Bat. 71b.(Smith) 1
J Ga’llmore’s br g Malta, 8st. 7lbs.(Owner) 2
Faugh-a-Ballalgh, 8st 4lbs.
Wallaby, 7st. 9lbs.
After Malta made most of the running for about a mile Smith began to work Hunter up, and from the straight a good race between Hunter and Malta resulted in a win by a length for Hunter, thanks to Smith’s clever piece of horsemanship.
The Belltrees Purse, 1¼ miles; weight for age; 6 sovs.
Mr. B Houseman’s b c Juan, 6st, 9lbs.(Dodds) 1
Stewart’s b m Eva, 9st. (Smith) 2
Faugh-a-Ballagh, 9st. 3lbs. 3
Only three starters. Smith brought Eva with a splendid rush at the finish, but could not quite overtake Goldsborough’s fine son, who won by a length.
Hack Race, 1 mile; 3 sovs. ; weight, 9st.
Mr. J. Hardcastle’s b m Wallaby. (M. Burke) 1
Campbell’s br g Stranger (Hector) 2
Stewart’s b m Eva
Campbell’s b g Chelsea
This proved the best race of the day. Smith on Eva made the most of a good start, and lead Wallaby half a length past the stand; the other two well up. Up the hill Wallaby took command, and lead by a length in the straight, where she was challenged by Chelsea and Stranger; but Wallaby, coming when called on, won by a length.
Publicans’ Purse of 6 sovs ; 1¼ mile.
Mr. R Stewart’s ch g Hunter. (Smith) 1
J Gallimore’s br g Malta. 2
Malta ran with heavy iron shoes on, but the boy was merciful – he did not punish the horse with the whip.
The Forced Handicap wound up the proceedings, which resulted in a canter for Malta, Stranger second.
Scone, 19th March, 1886