Sydney Olympic Torch Relay Welcome to Scone 2000
Featured Image: Landscape Aerial Portrait of 796 Horses and Horsemen & Horsewomen aligned along the New England Highway South of Scone for the Official Olympic Torch Relay Welcome @ 10:00am on Thursday 31st August 2000
Scone wanted the biggest and the best. We might very well have pulled it off? The occasion was the official ‘Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch Relay Welcome-to-Scone’.
Peter White from ‘Belltrees’ was the driver with the wholehearted support of the Scone Shire Council. Like most successful events it’s all in the planning. There was certainly a lot of it. Originally organisers hoped for 1000 horses and riders. The eventual tally of 796 was nonetheless an extremely majestic achievement. It surpassed by some margin the unofficial 750 claimed for the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, Canada. Hopefully the Guinness Book of Records was suitably impressed and would agree to a fresh claim?
The coruscating event took place through Scone on Thursday 31st August 2000. Peter White procured a competent team of marshals to supervise the parade. On-the-ground superintendent was Mary Spora. The weather Gods were kind and the horses behaved impeccably. A very happy aura pervaded the scene. The youngest age for participation was set at 10 and legendary horseman Danny Edwards was the oldest active rider at 92 years young. Danny rode ‘Old Clancy’ owned by Kate Fraser who brought him out of the paddock at St Aubins and spruced him up for the big event. Originally ‘Old Clancy’ was assigned to be Scone Shire Council GM Daryl Dutton’s mount. Daryl very wisely ‘scratched’ to allow Danny to participate. It was a sort of ‘ring in’; but not the type that entrepreneurial Danny was intimately familiar with on the racetrack!
There were three marshalling areas. White Park accommodated Polo Clubs, Eventing and Camping Groups. Pony Clubs, Individuals, Schools, TAFE and the Light Horse Brigade assembled in the St Aubins Railway Paddock juts off the NEH. St Aubins Peppertree Paddock on Gundy Road hosted Polocrosse, Studs, Rodeo, Rough Riders, Dressage and the Australian Stock Horse Society. Riders were asked to be in their marshalling areas by 7:00am. ‘Uniform’ consisted of blue jeans plus white shirt and tie. Also advised were sensible footwear, a snack (no catering) and hats mandatory for all under 14s. Hat wear optional for all others. Marshalls were identifiable by wearing bright orange vests.
Local torchbearers through Scone were in order: Jim Clarke, Kimberlee Deery, Olympian Gold Medallist Peter O’Donnell, Ralph Francis and David Belcher. It was Jim Clarke who took possession of the torch at c. 10:00am on 31/08/2017 about 500 metres south of the ‘Welcome to Scone’ sign on the New England Highway. ‘His torch’ was a much treasured possession until his passing in 2017.
The iconic featured image captures the magic of the occasion. It was stunning. Regrettably I was then domiciled in Sydney due to work commitments. Word filtered through!