The featured image shows Reg Watts competing on Norma’s son ‘Norman’ at the Rouchel Rodeo in 1947. Norman wasn’t a patch on his dam.
Reg Watts was the legend in Campdrafting. Even today you can find evidence of Reg’s prowess all over Scone. Like Shorty Cribb his name adorns the honour rail surrounding the Coronation Park Memorial dedicated to Roughriders and Campdrafters. Photographs of him and his famous mare ‘Norma’ adorn the galleries in the front bar of the Belmore Hotel and Chris Winter’s Barbers Shop in Liverpool Street. Some old timers with good memories still talk of him in hushed and reverent tones.
Reg’s personal story is no less engaging; and perhaps shrouded in mystery? The Watts clan have been prolific and firmly entrenched in Scone and the Upper Hunter throughout the 20th century. The appellations ‘horseman’ and ‘Watts’ go together. Many clan members excelled at horse sport activities. Reg was perhaps the ‘Prince of Performers’. His best campdrafter was the incomparable ‘Norma’. Reg won no less than 16 consecutive competitions before WWII. This stellar tally has never been remotely approached before or since; let alone achieved. W. H. Mackay from ‘Tinagroo’ gave the mare to Reg. Bluey Holcombe always claimed in Chris Winter’s barber’s chair: “He’s a Mackay you know” when speaking of Reg. It’s a moot point at best. Bill Mackay had no known children. However there must have been a close bond. Perhaps W. H. Mackay recognised Reg’s exquisite early promise and donated a mare he knew would enable him to fully exploit his talents? Bill Mackay was well known for this sort of philanthropy.
When I came to Scone in 1967 Reg was past his peak; but still a very viable ‘competitor’. He was the lay castrator of choice for most of the pastoralists, farmers and stockmen in the area. If Scott Johnston couldn’t do it, Reg Watts would. Most of the larger cattle stations routinely gelded their own colts anyway. It was 18 months before I was charged with gelding my fist colt. My boss Murray Bain had taught me to do standings castrations. It gave me the edge.
I met Reg Watts in the bar of the Belmore Hotel. We were regulars at the ‘Tuesday Boozers Club’ (TBC) following the fat-stock cattle sales. Reg worked for Dalgety’s. We quickly became firm friends. You can learn a lot by listening closely to experienced men like Reg Watts; especially if you come from somewhere else! The friendship cemented further at the annual Christmas celebration of the TBC hosted by Mrs Cotton; the licensee of the hotel. Reg was always known as ‘The Little White Bull’; but I can’t imagine why? They were great days.