Watchful eye… Peter Snowden. Photo: Vince Caligiur

Scone Bred Champion – Peter Snowdon

Prologue Update (Sunday 14th October 2018)

Just when we were thinking things couldn’t become any better; they have! Peter and Paul Snowdon have scaled ‘The Everest’ twice; with outstanding sprinter ‘Redzel’. Billed as the richest-race-on-turf in the world the contentious and controversial 1200 metre sprint, now in its second year, was a scintillating success again yesterday (13/10/18) at Randwick. The $13 million race filled the fine old course to capacity. The gates were closed early ‘capturing’ well over 40,000 hedonistic patrons. It appears Sydney has not lost its voracious appetite to party following the initial ‘great romp’ in late January 1788! The Snowdon camp has collected the majority purse now in both competitions including the inaugural running for $10 million in 2017. It adds yet further cachet to the magnificent ‘rags-to-riches’ saga of the Snowdon cadre from Scone.

This is a story of inspiration almost beyond the limits of reasonable possibility let alone probability. Chris Roots wrote about it in the SMH on Wednesday 30 November 2011 under the headline ‘Snowden’s amazing journey defies belief’. See: Previously I had written to Peter Snowden to compliment him on his extraordinary success and absolutely outstanding achievement in becoming Australia’s champion thoroughbred trainer. I reflected on the following:

You have achieved all this while still retaining your natural country humility, grace and charm. Success and fame have not changed you – a true test of character! I am reminded of your early days with John Noonan and ‘Wiffo’ Barker and quietly reflect on how proud your parents Ross and (stepmother) Pat would have been! Justifiably so! It would not have been any different if your escalation had not been quite so stratospheric! I also retain very fond memories of son Paul in my Junior Cricket Team. He certainly learned ‘how to play a straight bat’.

It is mildly ironic and equally prophetic that one of your early successes was with ‘Promising’ (by ‘Osmunda’) for Roger Neill and Paul Field? How this modest beginning has blossomed into today’s quintessential triumph! No doubt you are immensely proud of your close family and enjoy the unqualified support of your extended family not least from your devoted spouse Lynn?’

Chris Roots continued: ‘Peter Snowden never imagined he would train in Sydney when he was a battler in Scone. He certainly didn’t dare to dream he would travel the world for Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, and take horses to the World Cup meeting in the UAE State. So when Peter, now the Sheikh’s head trainer in Australia, got the call to take star three-year-olds Sepoy and Helmet to Dubai, he was surprised and delighted. ”I didn’t even think I would have a winner in Sydney when I was in Scone,” he said. ”This has been an incredible journey to get to where I am. I’m just honoured that they would want me to keep training these horses over there. They could have just taken them over and I’m sure they would have got the job done.” Peter Snowden views with a mix of “anticipation, excitement and trepidation” news that his champion colts Helmet and Sepoy will race on Dubai World Cup night, the richest race program in the world, next year.

Previously Godolphin had summoned some of Peter Snowden’s most promising horses to Europe but they had no success under different trainers. Sepoy and Helmet are clearly the two best Darley products to have headed overseas and it is a change of policy to keep them under Peter Snowden’s care. It will be the first time Peter will prepare horses to race in the famous Godolphin royal blue, which has only been seen in Australia when it chases the Melbourne Cup. Sepoy, a winner of 10 of his 11 starts, will carry the blue silks in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen over 1200 metres on an artificial surface called Tapeta at Meydan, while Helmet will be entered in the $2 million UAE Derby. Both races are on March 26. Snowden said the two colts are likely to have starts in Melbourne in Darley colours before heading to Dubai. Peter’s son Paul who runs the Melbourne part of the operation will be the travelling foreman.

Sepoy and Helmet lead Darley’s unprecedented sweep of the two-year-old Group 1s last season, winning two each and they have trained on to win the biggest three-year-old races of the spring in Melbourne. They were both expected to leave Australia for European campaigns next year but the timing has just been moved forward. Sepoy, a son of Elusive Quality, is the highest-rated three-year-old in the Australia on a mark of 129 with Timeform. He won the Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper as a juvenile and then beat the older horses at three in the Manikato Stakes before taking out the Coolmore Stud Stakes on Derby Day at Flemington. He will race for the final time for Snowden in Dubai after which he will be transferred to one of Godolphin’s European trainers and target the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot and July Cup at Newmarket’.

Local boy makes own fame

CAITLIN ANDREWS – Scone Advocate 15 Dec, 2011 12:13 PM

He is one of the best trainers in the country and master of the highest earning racing conglomerate, but locally bred Peter Snowden still remembers where he came from.

As the thoroughbred racing trainer secures his position at the top of the pool, he hasn’t forgotten his beginnings in Scone and the people who have believed in him his whole life.

Snowden, the head trainer for Darley controls the Sheikh Mohammed’s stables – Crown Lodge at Warwick Farm, Flemington and Agnes Banks at Hawkesbury.

Earlier this month it was also announced he would take horses to the World Cup meeting in Dubai.

Snowden’s top feature horses at present Sepoy and Helmet will be the runners to go, also preparing for the Dubai World Cup night next year.

Snowden told The Scone Advocate, these two signature horses are the best in the stables at present with Sepoy winning four group 1 races and Helmet proving just as good with three group 1 victories under his belt.

With more than 250 horses in training at one time, Snowden works with a team of highly dedicated people starting work at 3.30am in the morning and working through to 7.30pm seven days a week.

However, Snowden doesn’t take his success lightly as he expresses extreme gratitude to the support of his wife, Lyn, son Paul, master of stables in Melbourne and daughter Lisa, a lawyer, throughout his career.

Snowden’s highly illustrious career started here in Scone when he followed in the footsteps of his father, Ross, who was a local jockey.

He first started riding as a teenager as an apprentice to John Noonan when he lived with close friends and mentors Scone racing identities Tom and Joy Ollerton.

Snowden and Lyn married in Scone and the couple tries to visit as often as possible, with family still living in town.

Bowing to the pressures of keeping the weight off, Snowden took advantage of the opportunity to train and has never looked back.

Snowden started training for Lionel Israel, then moving to Warwick Farm to train for Woodlands before taking over from John Hawkes as head trainer at Crown Lodge.

Last season Darley had seven group 1 winners, the second highest in the country to Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody (nine), was the highest earning stud topping $16 million and boasted the most winners in the country.

Snowden said it feels good to be doing so well, but he still doesn’t forget where he came from.

“I was born in Scone and grew up in Scone.

“Scone is where I first started and I will never forget where I came from,” he said.

“I’ve had a wonderful life in racing and I’ve had great opportunities that I have taken advantage of.

“I’ve worked really hard, my job is my life, but I have great support from my family.”

Snowden said he believes the future of racing in Scone looks terrific with a committee that is very driven, very passionate and very committed to keep striving to be the best and attract the best in the country.

He said he would definitely bring up quite a few horses to the 2012 Scone Racing Carnival.

One of Snowden’s biggest followers Tom Ollerton said back in the day Snowden was a good rider in the bush and rode a winner in town too.

“Peter has put in the hard yards and he deserves all he gets.

“I feel proud of Pete, he did it tough when he first went to the city but to his credit he stuck it out,” Mr Ollerton said.

“You can take the boy out of the bush, but you can’t take the bush out of the boy.”

Local racing reporter Harley Walden has also watched Peter grow from a little boy to the self made success he is today.

“What Peter has done, he has done himself,” Mr Walden said.

“He was ready made for his appointment at Darley as nothing is ever left undone with Peter.

“He is a good country lad doing well.

“Peter Snowden is a chap that if he walked up Kelly Street today people could talk to him and he would talk to them and he’ll never be any different.”

Former veterinarian Bill Howey, who has suggested Snowden may even be the highest sporting achiever ever produced in Scone, said Snowden’s story was a story of inspiration almost beyond the limits of reasonable possibility let alone probability.

“Snowden has achieved all of this while still retaining his natural country humility, grace and charm.

“Success and fame have not changed Peter – a true test of character.”

I posed the following question to a well-informed Scone sportsman recently: ‘Is Peter Snowden the highest sporting achiever ever produced in Scone’? I could only come up with Laurie Morgan who won Olympic Equestrian Gold, Badminton Three Day Event and both the Liverpool and Cheltenham Foxhunters Chases in England with Salad Days II, Colledge Master and Gold Ross? I mentioned inspiration? Should we all take stock and learn from Peter when we are feeling perhaps a little hard done by and grumbling about our lot in life?

Encomium – Peter Snowdon

Peter was born into a racing environment in the Hunter Valley, which itself is the epicentre for thoroughbred breeding. He has by his own endeavours achieved a level of success that others can only dream about. What’s more he has done this without ever compromising his own high standard of integrity and fair play.

There have never been any short cuts or hiccups in Peters’ professional life, which makes his story so much more remarkable.

He remains the same modest, likeable and thoroughly trustworthy person he ever was.

I am sure that these qualities are plain to see during his frequent T.V. interviews. What he tends to downplay is his total commitment to the training and well-being of the horses in his care and the level of patience and understanding needed to bring out the best in them week in and week out.

J. R. G. Morgan, Sussex England
August 2016

It was totally in character when I asked Peter to act as a pall bearer for the late Harley Walden. He unhesitatingly agreed without question. I had given him no notice. I approached him in church prior to delivering my eulogy.