Neville Begg OAM

Neville Begg OAM

On Australia Day Friday 26th January 2024 “Mr Neville Charles Begg OAM of Woollahra NSW was awarded the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to horse racing as a trainer.”

Neville Begg is both a legend and one of nature’s true gentlemen. The two accolades are not always successfully combined. On Tuesday 30th May 2023 Neville Begg was inducted into the Trainer Category of the Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame.

See: Inductees of the Newcastle Hunter HOF – Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall of Fame

Featured Image: Neville Begg and fellow inductee Clarrie Connors at Broadmeadow racecourse on the day of their induction into the ‘Hall of Fame’.




Racing was well and truly in the blood; Grandfather Jack Reynolds was a trainer who prepared the great Newcastle mare Tibbie, and his two uncles were both successful jockeys, Eric and Percy Reynolds.

Racing was talked about at the dinner table and at school, around the streets and on the track in the pre-dawn light. It was all around for Begg to absorb. He always rode horses and aged 11 or 12 he started riding work for legendary Broadmeadow trainer Ray Cashman.

Begg spent one Christmas holidays working in prominent trainer Maurice McCarten’s Randwick stables. He had a handful of rides as an apprentice before problems with weight put paid to that dream but stayed with McCarten for 22 years before setting up his own stables at Randwick in 1967.

Success came quickly to the man contemporaries called the hardest working trainer in Australia. In all, Begg is credited with winning 139 stakes races including 39 Group 1 events, many partnered by champion jockey Ron Quinton.

The best of Begg’s outstanding winners was the grey champion, 1984 Australian Horse of the Year Emancipation, her 19 wins included six at Group 1.

In 1990 at the age of 60, Begg left Randwick for a successful training stint in Hong Kong, passing the baton at Baramul Lodge to his Group 1-winning son Grahame. He returned to Australia to retire from training in 1996.

I first met Neville Begg at Mr A O Ellison’s ‘Baramul Stud’ in the Widden Valley in the late 1960s. It was an ‘Open Day’ at the Stud. We were meeting in the drawing room of the homestead. Mr & Mrs Bill Longworth were there inspecting their magnificent racing and broodmare ‘Wenona Girl’. She had produced the sensational 2yo ‘Special Girl’ and had a filly foal at foot who became ‘Day Girl’. Both were by Baramul resident sire ‘Todman’, legendary son of champion ‘Star Kingdom’ who had passed away at ‘Baramul’ in April 1967. They were halcyon days; especially for an ingenue recently arrived UK emigrant veterinarian!

Racing was in Neville Begg’s blood. Born in Newcastle in 1931 many of Neville’s immediate family were steeped in the sport. Two of his maternal uncles, Eric and Percy Reynolds, were successful jockeys. Broadmeadow trainer Ray Cashman was the ‘gun’ leading successful raids to the Sydney racetracks. Betting coups were de rigueur. Young Neville earned his spurs with Ray before relocating to Maurice McCarten’s Randwick Stables in 1945 with the aim of becoming a jockey. The latter ambition succumbed to weight and ability issues but the association lasted 22 years with Neville becoming stable foreman to ‘the meticulous, quietly spoken and highly regarded McCarten’. He was the perfect tutor for the similarly attributed young trainee.

‘Todman’, trained by McCarten and educated by Begg, won the inaugural Golden Slipper Stakes in 1957. Ten years later Neville Begg set up his own stables at Randwick. During the 1970s and 1980s Neville was runner up to the immaculate T J Smith in the trainer’s premiership on no less than nine occasions. ‘Divide and Rule’ was his first Group I winner in the 1968 AJC Derby. In all Begg trained 39 Group I winners.

Neville Begg developed a very strong bond with jockey Ron Quinton who had succeeded Neville Selwood at Maurice McCarten’s stables. Among Neville’s great winners were many fillies and mares. ‘Emancipation’ (19 wins), ‘November Rain’ and ‘Heat of the Moment’ were in the champion class. ‘Dalmacia’ and ‘Dark Eclipse’ (1980 Golden Slipper) were other grand notables. In July 1970 I escorted the beautiful ‘Todman’ filly ‘Eternal Truth’ to America on the good ship ‘Parrakoola’ as part of the consignment of Baramul mares and foals expoerted to the USA.

In 1990, aged 60, Neville Begg spent six years training in Hong Kong leaving his ‘Baramul Lodge’ complex in the capable hands of his son Graham Begg. Returning to Australia in 1996, Neville became a successful owner and Group I-winning breeder.