Harry R Hayes: ‘Breakfast at Harry’s’
Featured Image: Harry Hayes (‘HRH’) (As I write this I’m delighted that Harry Hayes’ great grandson Chester Hall has just won a Bishop Essay Prize for his treatise on ‘HRH’. This little bit helped).
Harry was legendary! He enjoyed the good life but only because he invested in it what he hoped to receive with interest in return. He made adequate preparation by working 25 hours per day then take some time to celebrate the effort. Racing and breeding were his enduring passions after his primary interests of cattle raising, grazing and the meat industry. He was rightfully honoured by the State for his highly significant contribution to community and sporting affairs.
Gelding a few colts was arranged for the cool of an early summer morning for 6am at Lufton Park. Murray Bain had pre-arranged with great mate Jim from Woodlands to assist with handling the fine young thoroughbreds. First Harry had to shout breakfast. Two large bottles of Resch’s DA plus rum chasers accompanied the 1kg best-marbled Hunter Valley beef steak! Suitably fortified the castrations were a breeze!
Not many years later I survived a not-so-well orchestrated gelding operation at Harry’s. Wal was diligent but not the world’s best horseman. The unbroken colt was at the top yards with a stiff breeze blowing. Wal and I made preparation for a standing castration. Remarkably everything was proceeding according to plan despite the less-than-perfect situation. Shortly after I made the incision and crunched off the right spermatic cord I became vaguely aware of a subdued “clunk” behind me. To quote cricket commentator Jim Maxwell Wal was “base over apex” and out like a light! The semi-colt just stood there with twitch still applied and I furtively and hurriedly completed the process. Not a method of restraint I recommend! Both Wal and the ex-colt recovered uneventfully with Wal perhaps the worst for wear!
On another occasion I was gelding a colt standing and doing my level best to show off to the beautiful young ingénue veterinary student assistant later to achieve scientific and social prominence. My performance was not helped by the fact it was Scone Thoroughbred Week and celebrations were excessive. I had just completed half the operation when a green head ant attempted the same procedure on one’s self! Modesty was not an issue! It was immediate strides down and a search and destroy mission! Luckily I swiftly identified the culprit. Ultimately I was more successful than my insect competitor because I completed the operation. I don’t think my companion was too impressed with what she saw however!
It was a privilege to travel with Harry to Newcastle to the meetings of the Hunter and Central Coast Racing Association. Harry had cultivated many mates through his long patronage and as Committeeman of the Newcastle Jockey Club. It was an education to observe racing politics in process through the aegis of Roy, Stiffy, Harry et al. Harry, John and Lionel set off one day for Broadmeadow with the former two full of expectation for their respective charges. There was much discussion about certainty of victory and the dimension of the bets to be placed rather than the improbability of success! Lionel stayed mute. The return journey was a long subdued one with Harry and John commiserating on misfortune and missed opportunity. Lionel had won the last race! “Why didn’t you tell us about your horse Lionel?” chimed H and J. “You didn’t ask me” said Lionel! On another occasion Harry and I emerged at 6pm following lunch at Danilo’s in Hamilton. “I’ll toss you for the keys” said Harry! I lost! We made it back to Scone in Harry’s 6.8 litre Mercedes with time to spare! Thank goodness for the deterrent of RBT today! Harry’s other preferred mode of travel was a ‘Roller’ but I never enjoyed the exhilaration!