Andrew Murray Bain among the thoroughbreds he loved. He started the idea of the horse boxes.
Murray was the owner/breeder of ‘Todmaid’, ‘Obelia’, ‘Little Gum Nut’ and posthumously ‘Dark Eclipse’ (Golden Slipper 1980)
White Park Horse Boxes & Sales
Since 1947 Thoroughbred Sales had been conducted at White Park, Scone under the auspices of Scone Agency Pitt Son & Keene Pty Ltd and William Inglis & Sons of Sydney. According to local intelligence this was driven by agent Stan Keene. Simultaneously the recently constituted Scone Race Club held its first cup meeting on Wednesday 7th May 1947. Doug Robertson of historic ‘Turanville’ was the inaugural chairman. Mr Reg Inglis of William Inglis & Sons donated £50 towards the building and construction of the Judge’s Tower. The transaction was handled by SRC Committeeman Laurie Morgan of ‘Redbank’.
The annual May Thoroughbred Sales were established as a pivotal component of what was to emerge as Scone Thoroughbred Week held during the second week of the month every year. Traditionally the sales were conducted over two days on Monday/Tuesday with the Cup Races following on Wednesday/Thursday. The carnival rapidly built momentum in the 25 years 1947 – 1972. It was firmly established as one of the leading country racing festivals in the State. Initial patronage was richly fuelled by the massive transient workforce imported for the construction of Glenbawn Dam. This created a tradition which still exists today (although much diminished) of cadres of original workers returning to the fray for a ‘good time’. The sons of the original proponents now in their 60s book the Golden Fleece Hotel for convivial reunion each year.
Horse Box Construction
Track Redevelopment and construction of the Horse Boxes at White Park gathered more momentum in the early 1970s. The original concept was the brainchild of the fertile mind of local veterinarian Murray Bain. Thoroughbred sales peaked in the late 60s with some very lucrative dispersal sales conducted at White Park. The original component of about 70 tie-up stalls, parade ring and yards was inadequate to accommodate the growing consignments to both races and sales.
Murray Bain composed personal letters to most if not all the stud masters in the area to secure funding for the new concept of horse box construction. Murray Bain and Associates contributed the first $1000:00 to establish the embryonic fund. Douglas Alger Staff QC of Baerami House Stud quickly followed up with $100:00. This was matched by John Kelso (Timor Creek), Frank Thompson (Widden) Vivian Bath (Bhima), Alec Terry (Tarwyn Park), James Mitchell (Yarraman Park), Lionel Israel (Segenhoe), Carl Powell )Brooklyn Lodge), Stanley Wootton and many others. The Scone Shire Council as trustees of White Park was a strong supporter vigorously backed by then extant Scone Shire President David Macintyre (Kayuga).
The concept of horse boxes marched in tandem with the redevelopment of the White Park Race Track. This was all made possible by the donation of three-and-a-half acres of adjacent land in two blocks by Mr & Mrs A M Bain (‘Chivers’) and Sir Alister & Lady Thelma McMullin (St Aubins). The former was Vice-President of the Scone Race Club and Sir Alister the Patron. A new 1400 metre (7 furlong) chute was constructed on the new acquisition. This allowed for construction of horse boxes on land which had been the original 7 furlong chute and start right next to the public enclosure.
The Scone Advocate, Tuesday 19th March 1974: Front Page Lead Article
Plans drawn up for “Horse Hotel”
The project to build 220 high standard loose boxes for the stabling of horses at White Park is now underway. Plans for the boxes have been drawn up by Mr John Kirshaw and were shown to Scone Shire Council by Deputy Shire President Cr T V Bowd on Wednesday (13th March 1974).
The total number of boxes built will eventually be 220, but Stage I of the project, for which plans have been drawn up, will see the building of 110 loose boxes and the relocation of the present exercise ring to allow for positioning of the horse boxes.
The plans have already been approved by the committee in charge of the project and tenders for construction of the boxes will close on Monday 8th April.
Cr D Macintyre, seconded by Cr E Barton, moved that Council approve the plans and the motion was carried unanimously.
Cr Bowd told councillors that a recommendation on the letting of the tender would be presented to the April meeting of Council.
Iron and Timber
The plans for the boxes envisage construction of timber and corrugated iron, with concrete floors and bitumen lanes between each row of boxes.
Cr Bowd added, however, that there was provision for tenderers to submit a tender based on the cost of concrete block construction of boxes.
The boxes will be of 10 feet x 10 feet, with six 12 feet x 12 feet.
Stage 2 of the project will see the old horse stables at White Park demolished to allow construction of another 110 modern boxes and added car parking space.
Cr Bowd said there was no time limit on Stage I because of the expected shortages in the building industry.
Apart from donations of $26,000 the venture will be financed by a Council loan of $30,000 repayable over 10 years from a levy of 1 per cent of all horse sales in White Park.
Donations so far have been $20,000 from William Inglis & Sons and $6,000 from local stud owners making a total of $26,000.
Cost of both stages of the project is currently estimated at $102,000.
The first sales where the 1 per cent levy will be paid are expected to be the thoroughbred sales in May.
The minutes of the Scone Shire Council of 10 April 1974 record the tender of Concast Pty Ltd for the construction of 110 boxes costing $69,771:00 was accepted “subject to satisfactory arrangements being made to the provide additional finance of $14,000:00”. The first series of 90 boxes were built at a cost of $60,000:00 solicited through donations from industry secured by the Murray Bain inspired fund with the Scone Shire Council as trustee. $10,000:00 each from Pitt Son & Keene and William Inglis and Sons added enormous impetus to the project. I think it is fair to claim it would not have proceeded without? The caveat was a binding guarantee from Scone Shire Council that the combined agents had exclusive rights to sell Thoroughbred Horses in the local government area covered by Scone Shire Council for 20 years from November 1974 to November 1994. This was agreed with celerity and alacrity. Armed with this backing the Scone Shire Council raised a loan of $40,000:00. The boxes were first used for the 1975 May sales.
The second stage of the three-stage program to build a further 80 boxes were completed by December the same year at a cost of $87,800:00. Further donations were received from William Inglis & Sons ($1000:00), Scone Shire Council ($10,000:00) plus a grant of $73,574:00 from Gough Whitlam’s Labour Government Rural Employment Development (RED) Scheme. This came at just the right time.
By 1980 further improvements were made to both the race track and the horse boxes. $58,000:00 was spent on the grandstand plus amenities block and a further $10,000:00 on the horse boxes.
The ‘new’ grandstand was completed early during my (W P Howey) term of Office as President of Scone Race Club. We had received a grant of $40,000:00 from the Race Course Development Fund of the TAB of NSW. Unfortunately we were about $30,000:00 short. With some others I/we managed to cajole sufficient funds from Studs and individuals to allow construction to begin. We used the original Murray Bain approach with the addition of debentures (250:00) which could be multiple, redeemable or interminable in perpetuity. Included in donations and debentures were significant amounts from Morgan Howey Fraser (Veterinarians), Widden Stud (Bim Thompson), Bhima Stud (David Bath), Gyarran Stud (Jack Sheppard), Rosehill Stud (Boyd Gageler), Bill Howey (Hepple Farm), Yarramolong Stud (David Casben), Kelvinside (Hilton Cope), Peter Morris (Derby King Ranch, Woodlands). The stand was opened by Mr Ron W Auswild OBE Chairman of the NSW TAB on 1st December 1979.
It would be accurate to claim that the history of both racing and thoroughbred horse sales at White Park 1947-to-date represented a working symbiosis between like-minded people throughout the industry. Progress and development marched in unity. Partners included the Scone Race Club, Scone Shire Council, Thoroughbred Stud Masters and Breeders, Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeders Association, William Inglis & Sons, Pitt Son & Keene Pty Ltd, local businesses, individuals and the whole Scone community. There was clarity of vision and unity of purpose; mostly!
‘The Spirit Within’: Scone’s Racing History Harley Walden HVP
‘Scone Shire’: A Centenary of Local Government’ Audrey Entwisle HVP
‘The Infinitive History of Veterinary Practice in Scone’: W P Howey HVP
W. P. Howey