Scaling the Heights

Scaling the Heights

I know it’s a hoary old cliché but I promise this title was the very first thought which sprang to mind after watching the inaugural running of ‘The Everest’ at Randwick yesterday Saturday 14th October 2017. Chris Roots wrote in the ‘The Sun Herald Sports’: “Snowdons scale new heights in classic win”. He stole my line! Mind you I’ve purloined a few of his in the past. There will always be only one inaugural winner. That’s perennially and interminably unique. It’s a very Sydney thing; ‘conspicuous consumption’ as my son Hugh and junior cricket team mate of Paul said. ‘Nothing succeeds like excess’. Oscar Wilde would have felt at home.

It was an amazing day. I was a sceptic. I’m not usually like that but I couldn’t see it working. That’s’ why Peter V’landys has his job; and I don’t have mine. In any case I’m delighted for all concerned. One of the main reasons I decided to write these ‘blogs’ was my conviction we weren’t doing enough as a community to applaud and recognize our outstanding citizens. The first major I wrote was ‘Scone Bred Champion’ about Peter. I rate Peter and Paul Snowdon in that category. I’m thrilled by their success. Peter’s spouse and Pauls’ mother Lyn (nee Cribb) is right up there too. I’m proud to have known both sides of the family for over 50 years. Paul was in my junior cricket team with my son Hugh. He could play a straight bat even then.

‘Everest Day’ at Randwick was a great occasion for Scone and the Upper Hunter. Apart from the ‘Redzel’ triumph other local representatives in the field of twelve included ‘Houtzen’(Late Noel Leckie & Toby Edmonds)  and ‘Clearly Innocent’ (Greg Bennett & Bruce Neill of ‘Cressfield’). Unlucky first emergency ‘In Her Time’ won the consolation Sydney Stakes for Ben Smith. His father Ian (‘Ginge’) Smith and his grandparents are solid friends; also from Scone. I could go on. I think 83% of runners were sired by Upper Hunter-based stallions.

I think I’ll sneak out and have a drink with one of Peter Snowdon’s very first patrons. I know where to find him. Stockman and shearer Geoff Palmer will be in the bottom bar at the Belmore Hotel at 5:30pm as usual. I’ll report more a little later. It’s a good story.

I’ve just had a beer with Geoff. He was very informative; as usual! He remembers Peter riding his own good horse ‘Palmer’s Hope’ when trained by apprentice Peter’s Master John ‘Noisy’ Noonan. He also recalls Peter taking a tumble under one of the old Pepper Trees decorating White Park. Jack Kelso eliminated them. They obscured the vision from the 1400m start. They ‘all got a virus’ according to Jack. It could have been a bloke with a ‘Tordon  Poison Axe’ if other rumours have any substance? On another occasion Peter wasted for a week on lettuce leaves to make the weight to ride ‘One Eyed Queen’ in the Ramornie Handicap at Grafton. This tale might have had an exquisite conclusion; if ‘One Eyed Queen’ hadn’t bucked coming out of the barriers to unseat Peter. It would have been ‘whip crack’ elimination in less than 8 seconds in the Rodeo Ring! Memories! Memories!

Amazingly and coincidentally these stables were also where Toby Edmonds started. Geoff Palmer was there. ‘Wiffo’ Barker had them before Noisy Noonan. He recalls the first time he led Toby out onto the training track. It’s been all upwardly rapid progress since then. Geoff also regaled me with the time Eric ‘Shorty’ Cribb bought a mare to teach his grandson Paul Snowdon how to ride at the old Scone Saleyards? It was not an auspicious start! Paul didn’t last 8 seconds either! Apparently he showed his displeasure in no uncertain terms. These are my words; not Geoff’s! He was more explicit with elaborate vernacular.