Reg Watts & Norma: Warwick Gold Cup 1938

Reg Watts & Norma: Warwick Gold Cup 1938

Acknowledge: “The Warwick Gold Cup”; ‘Campdrafting Memories and Magic Moments’; Compiled and written by Bev Cheers. Gifted by Reg Watts great nephew Frank Daley from Aberdeen

1938 Cattle Drafting Championship          Warwick               Queensland

Place                     Competitor                        Horse

1st                           R. Watts                               Norma (274)

2nd                          H A Burgess                        Glenisle ( 265)

3rd                           G Duncan                            Pussycat (264)

4th                           R Watts                                Digger (261)

5th                           Boyce & Kilpatrick                Cadet (260)

6th                           R Grace                                Ranch Hero (172)

Judges                  R Munro

Prizemoney        £100       (Includes value of Cup)

Winner Novice Draft

A R Atthow                         Piety

Winner Ladies Draft

H A Burgess                        Glenrock (Ridden by J Burgess)

  • Reg Watts was the first New South Welshman to win the Gold cup
  • Miss Gwen Duncan’s 3rd place in the Gold Cup with Pussycat was the first place in this event by a woman

Reg Watts was born in Muswellbrook in 1908 and spent his childhood on a cattle property at Rouchel in the NSW Hunter Valley. He was raised a typical farm boy in the early 1900’s and learnt to appreciate horses at an early age, both for their ability to work and their importance within society as transport and part of a family’s everyday necessary possessions.

After leaving school, Reg took varying positions as a station hand around Rouchel before starting work for J M Clydesdale at Albano Station, Rouchel. He remained at Albano for a number of years before a major move in his life took him to Moree, where he spent time as a drover.

While working in Moree when Reg was in his early 20’s, he came in contact with Mackays, who owned property at both Moree and Rouchel (Scrumlo Station). He started to work for Mackays, and returned to Scrumlo Station where he became a valuable employee.

At Scrumlo Station, Reg used a small bay mare, Norma, as the night horse. She was used every morning to muster the horses and with constant everyday use Reg realised she was starting to show natural talent and was keen to “work”, even on horses.

Reg thought Norma was worth trying in a capacity other than simply as the night horse and he started to draft her at the Hunter valley campdrafts. She was a mature mare when she started to compete and as Reg and Norma became competitive, Mr Mackay gave her to Reg.

Reg is remembered as being a man who had a tremendous cattle sense, as he worked with cattle all the time, and Norma also possessed amazing cattle sense. Bob Campbell recalls that Norma and Reg suited each other, as Reg was a small man and Norma a pony (13.3 hands). Their combination was as good as Bob has seen and together they won countless drafts.

Reg mainly only travelled locally, but he did compete in Sydney in 1938, 1939, 1940 and 1941, winning the team draft in 1940. He also travelled to Warwick, making the effort to compare his skills against the best in the country, winning the Gold Cup and the Galloway Campdraft in 1938.

Tiger Batterham remembers that on one of his trips to Warwick, Reg trained Norma to Goondiwindi and then on to Warwick. Afterwards, he took time and attended campdrafts down through the New England area on his way home. He and Norma won 9 drafts on the trip.

After retiring Norma from competitions, Reg bred from her. It is believed she only had one foal, Norm, a gelding by “Armstrong Horse”. Unlike his mother, Norm was a big horse who Reg drafted with some success, but wasn’t able to reproduce the ability Norma possessed.

After finishing work at Scrumlo, Reg started working for Dalgety’s in Scone, doing saleyards work and freelance cattle work in the Scone area. Reg maintained his interest in horses and his big contribution to horses and horse sports was through his involvement with the Australian Stock Horse Society while in its infancy. He was one of the original Hunter valley classifiers and Reg, Tiger Batterham and Bert Griffith spent countless hours travelling and classifying horses each week after the Scone cattle sale.

Reg’s wife, Judith, recalls that one of Reg’s biggest regrets was in relation to his War Service. When the Second World War was declared, Reg joined up with many young Australian men and after thre days he was classified as being in essential service and was released from service duties. Reg remained irate over this decision as he felt he wasn’t doing his duty.

Reg married Judith later in life, having been a bachelor for over 60 years. He passed away on 12th August 1978, 1 day short of his 70th birthday, after having battled with cancer for several months. He is remembered in the horse world as having been a great competitor and the performances of Reg and Norma are regarded by older campdrafters as having been among the best, if not the best, of their generation. Reg’s Gold Cup remains with his widow as a proud memory of his memorable career.