Moses Brothers of Arrowfield

I adduce my good friend Brian Russell. He (correctly) writes that the preeminent breeders of thoroughbreds in NSW in the first part of the 20th century were the Moses Brothers of Arrowfield. I include the full version of his recitation.

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Ian Ibbett has as usual related the tale superbly in his own inimitable style. (See above). My good friend Bill Moses and grandson of F A (‘Fred’) Moses, now 87, fondly recalls the good old days at ‘Combadello’ with palpable relish.

Australia’s best breeders of last century

Brian Russell reviews the success of the Moses brothers in Hunter Valley 1900-1925

When Fred Moses, principal of the Kanangra agistment farm in the Scone district, and his horse training wife Mary attended the annual sire parade at the Jerrys Plains, Hunter Valley located breeding giant Coolmore late last August, he was fully aware of the big association his family had into the early history of this Hunter River nurtured, richly soiled country, but may not have realised that 2016 was the ninetieth anniversary of the death at the age of 64 of one of the men responsible for that input, his grandfather Fred Moses’ brother and partner William Moses.

Representatives of a leading north western NSW pastoral family, the Moses brothers developed Arrowfield into one of Australia’s premier studs in the first quarter of last century through use of quality sire prospects and well bred mares. In fact, considering that it was rare at that time for a sire to have as many as forty foals in a year, analyses of their production achievement suggests they challenge as Australia’s most successful breeders.

Their most rewarding investment was the purchase in England in 1919 after he had a season of blue blooded mid-road 2400m performer Valais (GB). Foaled in 1913, he was a chestnut son of the 1905 English Derby winner Cicero (Cyllene – Gas, by Ayrshire) and Lily of the Valley (Martagon – Hamptonia, by Hampton).

Unfortunately, the Moses brothers did not enjoy the full glory of Valais’ success as a sire for on the eve of attaining what was to be the first of five successive champion Australian sire titles, that of 1923-24, they dispersed the Arrowfield stud, possibly because of William Moses poor health.

Held in April 1924, the sale saw new Australian records secured for a sire, Valais (14,400 gns – $28,944), and broodmare, the Moses importation Chersonese (GB) (5,100 gns – $10,710), a daughter of the modest Cyllene racehorse and sire Cylgad and distinguished performer and matriarch Chelandry.

The 135 lots catalogue also included the proven sires Poitrel (1914, St Alwyne (GB) – Poinard, by Metal (GB) 1850 gns – $3,885 and his 25-year-old sire St Alwyne (GB) (1899, St. Frusquin – Florence, by Cambello)  200 gns  – $420

Bred and raced by the Moses brothers after he failed to reach his 300 gns – $630 reserve at the Sydney yearling sales, Poitrel won17 races (two of them dead-heats) in 37 starts, including the Melbourne Cup (1920).  His career included wins over immortals Desert Gold, Gloaming, Beauford and Eurythmic.

Poitrel was one of two Melbourne Cup winners sired by St  Alwyne, the other being the C. L. Macdonald, Victoria bred gelding Night Watch (1918). Runner Up in the 1917 Caulfield Cup, Night Watch was out of another immortal of the turf in Wakeful.

In addition four offspring of St Alwyne bred at Arrowfield by the Moses contested the 28-runner 1914 Melbourne Cup, namely Sir Alwynton (a neck second; race record time), St Carwyne (4th, won AJC Metropolitan), Gladwyn (10th, won Moonee Valley Cup twice) and Allingamite (13th)

Using St Alwyne, they also bred Lady Medallist (won VATC Caulfield Stakes, Eclipse Stakes, VRC October Stakes, AJC Craven Plate, Taranaki Cup – twice, Wanganui Guineas), her brother Moorilla (won 1911 Sydney Cup) and brother and sister Sir Alwyne (won Western Australian Derby) and Alwina, the mother of Peter Pan, the Hall of Famer who won two Melbourne Cups.

A son of the imported Tracery sire Pantheon (GB), a winner of the Randwick Plate (3200m) twice and third in the Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate, Peter Pan was bred and raced by Rodney Rouse Dangar (1872-1952). He was a scion of one of the most distinguished Hunter Valley pioneering families, one, who based in the Singleton district, played big roles in the development of the thoroughbred in the region.

Peter Pan was a revenge

Peter Pan’s success was somewhat of a revenge for Rodney Dangar for the sale to the Moses brothers by his father, Richard Halifax Dangar, at a stud dispersal in 1904 of a broodmare by the name of Jacinth. A daughter of 1983 Melbourne Cup winner Martini-Henry, like Carbine a son of Musket, she had a colt foal at foot by the Dangar’s St. Simon sire Positano (GB).

Reared on Arrowfield and sold at Sydney sales for 500 gns – $1,050, a high price, and raced under the name of Poseidon, he emerged from a modest juvenile season to win at three the AJC Derby, Caulfield Cup, Victoria Derby, Melbourne Cup and AJC and VRC St Legers. At four he won the Caulfield Cup again and finished eighth under 10 stone 3 pounds – 65.0kg in the Melbourne Cup.

Winner all told of 19 of 33 outings, Poseidon has a niche in the Australian Thoroughbred Hall of Fame. Also in this exalted company is the Moses bred Valais stallion Heroic (1921), a winner of 21 of 52 outings, ranging from 1000m to 3200m and including in Group1 equivalent events the AJC Champagne Stakes (1200m), Derby, MVRC Cox Plate, William Reid Stakes, VRC Newmarket, VATC Caulfield Guineas, Memsie Stakes-twice, WRC Underwood Stakes, Caulfield Stakes, WRC Underwood Stakes and C.F. Orr Stakes.

He probably would have started as favourite at three in the 1924 Victoria Deby and Melbourne Cup if his nomination for both had not been rejected because of the disqualification of connections over the running of Purser, an 8yo gelding by Sea Prince (GB) (Persimmon) in the Coongy Handicap at Caulfield three days prior to a 2 1/2 lengths win in the Caulfield Cup. Purser retained the Cup, but went for a12 months spell along with connections.

One of these, J.R. Corteen, was the sole owner of Heroic, but the Valais colt was able to return to racing in the autumn after he was purchased privately by Sydney sportsman C.B. Kellow, reputedly for 16,000 guineas – $33,600, after failing to reach a reserve of 20,000 guineas – $42,000 at an auction sale.

When Heroic retired from racing, he went to stud at Tarwyn Park, one in the Bylong Valley owned by Herbert Thompson, the principal also of the Oakleigh Stud in the Widden Valley and a member of the family which still conducts the Widden Stud.

Heroic in the1930s ruled as the champion Australian sire for what was then a record seven successive years. His progeny included a giant of Australian racing in Widden Stud produced Ajax (36 wins,18 in succession, about 20 Group1 class events) and Hall Mark (AJC Derby, VRC Derby, Melbourne Cup, the Doncaster, Underwood Stakes), Silver Standard (in 1936 second Caulfield and Melbourne Cups), Nuffield (won AJC and VRC Derbys, Caulfield Guineas), Hua (won AJC Champagne Stakes,VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes, Derby – beat Ajax, MVRC William Reid Stakes), Gallantic (AJC and VRC Oaks), Cereza (AJC Oaks), Leila Vale (AJC Oaks) and Heros (the VATC Futurity, MVRC William Reid – twice), to mention a few.

Heroic’s record of being the leading sire for seven years stood for over sixty years, falling to shuttler Danehill (USA) (Danzig) this century. On the same farm, but one under different ownership, that hosted Valais and produced Heroic, Danehill was the champion sire nine times in the period 1995-2005.

Interestingly, Danehill and Heroic were the two of the closest inbred leading sires in Australian history. Danehill had a 3×3 of Northern Dancer’s dam Natalma and a 5×5 of Hyperion, but Heroic had far less ancestors. He doubled up Cyllene 3×3, Chelandry’s dam Illuminata 4×3, Hampton 5x4x4 and Bend Or four times, 5x4x5x5.

Valais also had a strong inbred pedigree, duplicating Bend Or 4×3, broodmare Feronia 5×3, her sire Thormanby 5×4, the sire Macaroni 5×4, Stockwell 5×5 and Hampton 4×3.

During his sire career in the care of the Moses brothers at the Jerrys Plains Arrowfield,Valais was so successful he was labled The Freak Sire. Besides supplying Hall of Fame inducted Heroic, two other homebreds among his offspring, both 1922 foals, who appear worthy of this honour were the brilliant but unpredictable stallion Manfred and the very fast filly Valicare.

Left at the post in some of his races, including two events at Flemington in the one afternoon, Manfred won 11 races 1000m -2400m, including the AJC Derby, VRC Derby and the Cox Plate at three, a year he was a close second in the Melbourne Cup.

He won the Caulfield Cup at four and went on to be a good sire in South Australia, including among his progeny The Trump (in1937 won the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup) and Mildura (won the AJC Doncaster – twice, VRC Newmarket).

The filly Valicare was unbeaten in seven starts at three and included among her career successes in the AJC Oaks (then known as the Adrian Knox; won by 5.0 lengths), AJC Doncaster, STC Rawson Stakes (8.0 lens), AJC All-Aged Stakes and the Carrington Stakes (all placegetters by Valais).

She finished fifth under 9st 13lb – 63.0kg in the 1927 edition VRC Newmarket won by Gothic, an imported son of Pantheon’s sire Tracery who also won this race again in 1928.Those behind Valicare in 1927 included Heroic (Valais) and Fujisan (Valais), an Arowfield bred gelding who won the Doncaster, All-Aged Stakes, Brisbane Cup, Adelaide Cup and Port Adelaide Cup.

The foals sired by Valais at Arrowfield paved the way for him to claim the champion Australian sire title in five successive years,1923-24 to 1927-28. His most rewarding year was 1925-26 one in which his progeny earnings were the equivalent $114,736, the biggest total ever recorded in Australia until that time.

Record prices in the sale ring

The 1926 sales also echoed his exceptional success. In Sydney the five highest priced yearlings were by Valais, selling at 5,500 gns – $11,550 (a brother to Valicare, a new Australian record, previous best 3,050 gns), 4,100 gns – $8,610 (brother to Vaals, AJC Epsom winner bred at Arrowfield), 3,800 gns – $7,980 (half-brother to Poitrel AJC, VRC, SAJC St Leger winner Belgamba), 3,000 gns – $6,300 (half-sister to Group1 winners King Carnival, Baringhup) and 2,400 gns – $5,040 (filly) and the top price in Melbourne was 2,750 gns – $4,775 for a brother to Manfred.

Everyone of these yearlings was from a mare purchased in foal to Valais at the Arrowfield dispersal, the one at which Heroic’s dam Chersonese sold for the record broodmare price of 5,100 gns – $10,710. Purchased by Victorian thoroughbred industry leader A.T. Creswick, she produced two stakes winners for him by Devizes (GB), the best of them being Cimbrian, a winner in Melbourne of the Hotham Handicap, Caulfield Stakes, Bagot Handicap and Williamstown Cup.

A winner in England of the Doncaster Cup (3600m), Devizes was by Valens (by the Bend Or sire Laveno), an English St Leger second whose best representative was Violoncello (GB), the winner in 1921 of the Caulfield Cup and in1922 of the first running of the Cox Plate. He was owned by Sydney merchant Sir Samuel Horden and supplied some good winners from use at his Pentwynvale stud at Wingen near Scone, including Viol d’Amour, the runner up in the 1932 Cox Plate.

The centrepiece of the Moses dispersal of Arrowfield was, of course, the offering of Valais. There were concerns that he might be bought for overseas, but at the fall of the hammer the new owners were H.S., A.W. and A.E. Thompson, Widden Valley.

Alternating between Tarwyn Park and the Widden studs on a  record fee of 500 gns – $1050, he was a devastating loss when he died in 1927 at only 14 years of age. Good horses from this use included Vaals (won AJC Epsom, VRC Cantala Stakes), Monash Valley (won Queensland Derby), St Valorey (won Brisbane Cup – twice) and Rhonite (won the QTC Sire’s Produce Stakes).

In addition to Poitrel, St Alwyne and Valais, sires used by the Moses brothers at Arrowfield included the imports Cardinal Beaufort (GB) (1907), a high class stayer by John O’Gaunt, sire also of the influential Swynford, and Roseworthy (GB) (1910), a son of the St Simon Ascot Gold Cup winner William The Third.

One of the better 2 and 3-year-olds of his generation, Roseworthy included among his Moses bred progeny Longworthy (won VRC Bagot Handicap) and Tanadees (won the Auckland Cup). The latter was an 11-years younger half-brother of Radnor (1910, by Earlston (GB), a Moses bred winner of the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes and St Leger, VRC S Leger, Champion Stakes and WATC Derby and second AQJC Derby.

The sire Red Cardinal only enjoyed modest success, but a son, Red Cardinal, won the Newcastle Cup and finished eighth in Poitrel’s Melbourne Cup and three others were Cane King (won QTC Ascot Handicap), Maltlean (Kalgoorlie Cup) and Pleione (Werribee Cup).

Prior to the quarter century golden era at Arrowfield under the Moses, the property had produced quality bloodstock for the Bowmans, owners of a pastoral empire in the Hunter Valley from early 1880s. It was very quiet on the breeding front, however, after the Moses1924 dispersal until it was reborn in 1990 under inspiratorial skills of John Messara, a Sydney stockbroker with a profound love of breeding and racing.

In association with the then emerging Ireland headquartered world thoroughbred operation Coolmore, Messara sparked a world breeding revolution by shuttling the Danzig champion 3yo sprinter and classic miler Danehill out to Arrowfield. Five years later the property and Danehill Australian standing rights were acquired by Coolmore and Messara, retaining the Arrowfield masthead, established a new Arrowfield in the Segenhoe valley near Scone.

This stud and Coolmore, Jerrys Plains are now two of Australia’s greatest studs and each of them have been home for champion Australian sires and training grounds for modern day horsemen. One of the latter who received some of his ‘education’ with Coolmore in both hemispheres is Henry Field, head of the Newgate Farm Stud, one in the Scone region which in six years has become a new colossus in Australian breeding.

Newgate Farm and the Messara Arrowfield each had yearlings gross over $10million at this year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast yearling sale.

The Newgate success may have been very pleasing for the Arrowfield Moses if they had been around for Henry Field maternally is a great great grandson of Fred  Moses. It goes back through Henry’s mother being a daughter of Reg ‘Tiggy’ Moses, a now deceased fine horseman who carried the same name his father, one of the half dozen sons of Fred Moses.The Fred Moses of the Kananga agistment farm, one which raised the current good galloper Under the Louvre, is a grandson who is the only one at this time carrying the Moses name active in commercial breeding.

The biggest player in breeding and racing in the Moses family since the Arrowfield era was Fred’s son Reg, a grandfather of Henry Field. In the 1960s and 1970s, Reg Moses bred a  long string of good horses on Fairways, a farm close to Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley.

He was a great mate of Stanley Wootton and shared ownership with him and Baramul Stud proprietor Alfred Ellison of five times champion Australian sire Star Kingdom (Ire) (by the Hyperion sire Stardust). He had a lot of success with a broodmare named Alcestis, a three-quarter sister by Manitoba (GB) the dam of 1958 Melbourne Cup winner Baystone, a son of the Dante sire Brimstone. Alcestis’s grandam, the Sea Prince mare New England, was a Moses of Arrowfield bred half-sister to Heroic.