Tag Archives: Melbourne Cup

Trove Tuesday – I Had A Dream

It’s Melbourne Cup time again and I love that it falls on Trove Tuesday.  There are many ways to pick a winner and around Melbourne Cup time, you hear them all.  Some go for numbers, the name, the colours or maybe an omen.  Often after the event, punters will claim they dreamt up the winner, and as the “Sound” from the Hamilton Spectator suggested in 1894, they are often not game to declare their selection prior to the race.  But not so John Cameron.  Back in 1894, farrier John Cameron of Lonsdale Street, Hamilton, claimed his Melbourne Cup selection came from a dream and he was happy to share his vision.

The 1893 Melbourne Cup winner was Tarcoola and it was that horse’s name that came to Cameron in his slumber.  He recalled seeing a newspaper listing previous Melbourne Cup winners including Archer for 1861/62 and Tarcoola 1893/94.  So convinced that he had dreamt the winner, he took a Caulfield Cup/Melbourne Cup Double, Paris into Tarcoola.

The “Sound” recounts the most famous prediction emanating from a dream, the winner of the 1870 Melbourne Cup.  The winner Nimblefoot,  the dreamer his owner Walter Craig, owner of Craig’s Hotel, Ballarat.

mcmc1

Melbourne Cup Dreamers. (1894, October 31). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 5, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65397112

Melbourne Cup Dreamers. (1894, October 31). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 5, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65397112

Are you wondering if John Cameron was a winner?  The first leg of his double come in, Paris in the Caulfield Cup.  The Melbourne Cup winner was Patron, with Tarcoola  unplaced.

PATRON, 1894 MELBOURNE CUP WINNER, Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no.  IAN08/11/94/20-21e  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/254730

PATRON, 1894 MELBOURNE CUP WINNER, Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. IAN08/11/94/20-21e
http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/254730


Skipton – The “Local” Horse

In 1941, a horse with links to the Western District  won the Victorian Derby/Melbourne Cup double.  Named after a small town west of Ballarat and with a female owner from Hamilton, Skipton had the two towns on their feet when he crossed the line to win the 1941 Melbourne Cup.

Mrs Myrtle Kitson purchased the colt, sired by Marabou and out of Cupidity, as a yearling.  After some maturing, he was sent to trainer, Jack Fryer.   Myrtle had wanted to call her colt “Monaco”, but had some reservations, so she selected “Skipton” the name of the little town on the Glenelg Highway were she enjoyed stopping on travels to and from Hamilton. (Skipton is often used as a pit stop for those travelling the Glenelg Hwy and a place that members of my family would stop for a cup of tea on their drive back to Hamilton)

HOW SKIPTON GOT ITS NAME. (1941, November 12). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), p. 7. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107293645

HOW SKIPTON GOT ITS NAME. (1941, November 12). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 – 1950), p. 7. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107293645

Myrtle was superstitious, and on the day of the Derby of 1941, she remained back in Hamilton tending the Grand Central Hotel, where her and husband John were licensees.  John and daughter Morva represented her at the races and when Skipton crossed the line as winner of the Derby, they accepted the trophy on Myrtle’s behalf.

OWNER'S DAUGHTER AND WINNING TRAINER. (1941, November 4). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950), p. 10 Edition: HOME EDITION. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78571281

OWNER’S DAUGHTER AND WINNING TRAINER. (1941, November 4). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), p. 10 Edition: HOME EDITION. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78571281

After the race, reports came through that Skipton had pulled up sore and was an uncertain starter in the Melbourne Cup the following Tuesday.  The night before the Cup, Skipton was finally declared a starter with William Cooke (Billy) to take the mount.  The late decision, although probably tactics, was the correct one, and Skipton took out the race. Skipton, by winning the 1941 Melbourne Cup, achieved a feat only 12 horses had done before and no horse has done since, winning the Victorian Derby/Melbourne Cup double in the same year.

Like Derby Day, Myrtle not wanting to jinx the horse, remained home at the Grand Central Hotel.  Morva and John stopped at Skipton for a cup of tea on the way to Melbourne, just as they did three days before…just in case it was an omen.

The whole of Hamilton must have listened to the race and many crammed into the Grand Central Hotel that day to listen to the Cup on the wireless.  Much money was bet on the “local” horse .  That and the chance of a beer on the house were reasons enough to take an interest.  The call, by Ken Howard is online on the following link – 1941 Melbourne Cup Call

As Skipton crossed the line, Myrtle declared “Turn it on for the customers”.

skipton

SKIPTON STABLE SECRECY. (1941, November 9). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59154373

SKIPTON STABLE SECRECY. (1941, November 9). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59154373

SKIPTON'S OWNER MISSED CUP. (1941, November 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 1. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8214714

SKIPTON’S OWNER MISSED CUP. (1941, November 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8214714

It was not just the money of Hamiltonians the rode on the back of Skipton that day.  The Portland Guardian reported that there were big wins in Portland from bets placed on the “local” horse.

Shipton Wins Rich Double. (1941, November 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64402269

Shipton Wins Rich Double. (1941, November 6). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64402269

The win gave Billy Cook his first Melbourne Cup, in his eighth attempt, aged 31.   He won the Cup again in 1945, on board Rainbird.  By the end of his career, Cook had won almost every major race in Australia and had received legend status.  He was inducted in to Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2002.

skipton4

Not Easy Horse To Train. (1941, November 5). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45736493

Not Easy Horse To Train. (1941, November 5). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45736493

The win was not without controversy.  Punters were angry that in the lead up to the Cup, it was suggested that Skipton was unlikely to run.  The price went out and rumours that a big bet of £25,000 was placed were spreading.  John Kitson denied the rumours insisting he only bet £8000, still a handsome wager in those days,  A Sydney owner was quick to criticise  the secrecy surrounding champion racehorses.

skipton7

skipton8

SKIPTON STABLE SECRECY. (1941, November 9). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59154373

SKIPTON STABLE SECRECY. (1941, November 9). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59154373

Back in Hamilton, the town was riding on the back of the Kitson’s success.  A “local” horse had won the cup.  To congratulate the Kitsons, a dinner was held, at the Kitsons’ own hotel.

Hamilton Honours Kitson Family. (1941, November 15). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78132418

Hamilton Honours Kitson Family. (1941, November 15). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78132418

The following year Skipton did not start his preparation well, with a disappointing  run in the Mentone Cup.  He followed up with a win in the Stand Handicap, pushing him into Caulfield Cup favouritism. However, he could only manage fifth in the race, with Tranquil Star narrowly winning from Heart’s Desire.  Along with the Caulfield Cup, Tranquil Star won the Caulfield Stakes, WS Cox Plate and the McKinnon Stakes in the same season.

Skipton Doesn't Look Spring Winner. (1942, September 20). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59171794

Skipton Doesn’t Look Spring Winner. (1942, September 20). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59171794

Despite the defeat at Caulfield, come Melbourne Cup time Skipton was pushing for favouritism after John Kitson placed a rather healthy wager on Skipton, thus giving a hint that the horse was on target.

HEAVY PLUNGE. (1942, November 14). Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article42367898

HEAVY PLUNGE. (1942, November 14). Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article42367898

The task was ahead of Skipton.  No horse since Archer in 1861/2  had won  consecutive cups and the only horse to have won carrying more than nine stone in the 10 years before was the champion Peter Pan.  Punters were willing to stick with Skipton especially after his excellent lead-up win in the Hotham Handicap carrying 9st 4lb, and as they say, records are made to be broken.

The records remained intact.  In what has become known as the Austerity Melbourne Cup, due to WW2 belt-tightening,  a rank outsider, Colonus got up by seven lengths in heavy conditions. Skipton spent the entire race near the tail of the field.  He was then sent out for a spell before his next tilt at the Cup in 1943.

Skipton returned in the Spring of 1943 with the Caulfield Cup his first goal.  That year, because of an overwhelming number of nominations, there were two divisions of the Caulfield Cup.  The first division was won by a roughie Saint Warden and Skipton, showing some of the class of his three old days, won the second division,  Naturally Melbourne Cup favouritism ensued.

After the win, Myrtle and a generous Hamilton punter donated money to the War Loan effort.

SKIPTON'S WAR LOAN EFFORT. (1943, November 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64387175

SKIPTON’S WAR LOAN EFFORT. (1943, November 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64387175

MELBOURNE CUP FAVOURITE. (1943, October 27). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 15. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25984915

MELBOURNE CUP FAVOURITE. (1943, October 27). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 15. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25984915

Once again, Skipton went into a Melbourne Cup with a chance to make history, as the first horse to win two Melbourne Cups and a Caulfield Cup.  Also, only three other horses had won the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in the same year.  Coming around the back of the track before the horse entered the straight for the last time, it did look as though Skipton could win, sweeping around the field from a long way back as he made his run.  However, as they entered the straight, he was forced wide and with a large weight, he could only managed a creditable but well beaten fifth, behind another favourite in the race Dark Felt.   Skipton then ran in the Williamstown Cup later in November and ran second to Claudette.

That was the last race for Skipton.  He was brought into the stable in early 1944 for an Autumn preparation, with the Australian Cup in mind.  Unfortunately, in early February, Skipton developed heat in his near side foreleg and trained at the beach for several days to take advantage of the salt water.  However it was soon realised  that the injury was serious and an announcement was made that he would not run in the Australian Cup and later, that he would be retired.

SKIPTON RETIRES. (1944, February 10). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128393096

SKIPTON RETIRES. (1944, February 10). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128393096

Just over a month later Myrtle Kitson sold Skipton at the Newmarket Sales.  He fetched 1,500 guineas as a stud prospect, the buyer Kooba Stud near Scone, New South Wales.

At some point, around the mid 1940s the Kitsons left Hamilton and moved to Glen Iris, where Myrtle passed away on September 19, 1946.  Myrtle left an estate of over £9,000.

Late in December 1948, news came through the Skipton was dead aged 10, the result of a tragic stable accident.

Turf Notes. (1948, December 31). The Charleville Times (Brisbane, Qld. : 1896 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article76553267

Melbourne Cup winner dead. (1948, December 23). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), p. 16. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12988791

Melbourne Cup winner dead. (1948, December 23). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), p. 16. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12988791

Turf Notes. (1948, December 31). The Charleville Times (Brisbane, Qld. : 1896 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article76553267

Underrated Skipton was the last horse to win the Melbourne Cup as a three year old and the last horse to win the Derby/Melbourne Cup, a record that is often forgotten.


Trove Tuesday Goes to the Races!

Today’s Melbourne Cup marks 20 years since a horse my father was a part-owner of, ran in the Cup.   London Bridge won the Duke of Norfolk Handicap (now known as the Andrew Ramsden Stakes) in 1992, a race over 3200 metres at Flemington just like the Melbourne Cup, and he won it in race record time.  He was also trained by the master, Bart Cummings, so London Bridge went into Melbourne Cup day with some hope of a good run.

On Cup Day, the rains came and we knew from the Adelaide Cup in May 1992, that London Bridge was not partial to getting is feet wet.  The winner of the  Adelaide Cup was Subzero and when it rained at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November 1992, London Bridge’s chances decreased and Subzero’s chances increased dramatically.  Subbie won and London Bridge ran a brave ninth.

Both London Bridge and Subzero went on to noble careers after their racing retirements.  London Bridge served as a police horse with the Victorian Police Force and Subzero was a Clerk of Course horse for 15 years and then became an  Ambassador for Racing Victoria.  At  24, he still visits schools as part of Racing Victoria’s Community Education Programs and other public appearances .

To mark the 20th anniversary of London Bridge’s Melbourne Cup run, this week’s  Trove Tuesday has a Cup theme with newspaper articles about  Bart Cummings.  Both articles are from the Barrier Miner, a Broken Hill newspaper where, surprisingly enough, I find many treasures.

The first article is from 1947 and a young Bart Cummings, working for his father, had a fall from a flighty colt.

Lucky Escape For Racehorse Comedy Court. (1947, October 16). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49572477

When I first read this story I thought this was a different horse to that in the following article, 1950 Melbourne Cup winner, Comic Court.  However after reading Racing Victoria’s bio of Comic Court I realised that Comedy Court and Comic Court were one and the same.  Both horse and rider were lucky to win any Melbourne Cups!

The next treasure from the Barrier Miner is a photo of Bart Cummings,  Comic Court and Deidre Gath, the daughter of Albert Gath, a harness racing trainer, who had stables near Flemington.

He made her cry. (1950, November 11). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 12. Retrieved November 4, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49585975

I like this photo as it brings together two racing dynasties, one thoroughbred racing, the other harness racing.  The Cummings family have had three generations of trainers, Jim, Bart and Anthony while the Gath family had five brothers training during the 1950s.  Like the Cummings name in thoroughbred racing, the Gaths are still a force in harness racing today.  In August, Andy Gath trained the winner of the Group 1 Breeders Crown Final with Caribbean Blaster and last Saturday, an Anthony Cummings trained horse, Fiveandahalfstar won the Group 1 Victoria Derby.

I also love the way Comic Court is looking at Deidre.


A Western District Melbourne Cup

As John Finn Kirby led his 3yo colt from the Mt Gambier show ring, victor in the 1908 Best 10 stone Hack, most would not have considered the same horse would be led in as the winner of the Melbourne Cup three years later, almost to the day.  But John Kirby had a dream, and his 10 stone hack, The Parisian, was one of several new horses that had the potential to complete the task.

John Finn Kirby was born at his father’s Springbank station, near Casterton in 1858.  His father, Edmund Kirby, was born in Northamptonshire and was one of the early settlers at Casterton as was John’s Irish-born mother Mary Finn.  John and his sister Ellen each received their mother’s surname as their middle name.  As was the way for the sons of  the early pastoralists, John was sent away to school, Ballarat College the choice.  He then spent seven years working for stock and station agents in Ballarat.

At age 24 he went to work for Smallpage’s stock and station agents in Coleraine and after a year he bought the business. By 1883 he was the secretary of the Coleraine Racing Club. In June 1885, John married South Australian girl Elizabeth Crowe, daughter of   the late Edmund Crowe and Johanna Crowe, owners of  Mingbool Station near Mt Gambier. The wedding was a social highlight in the town and created much interest.

The Border Watch. (1885, July 1). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77062640

In 1888, John purchased Mt Koroite Estate near the Coleraine racecourse.

COMMERCIAL INTELLIGENCE. (1888, September 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 9. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article6902423

In August 1889, Johanna Crowe passed away, resulting in an interesting battle over her will which ended in the Adelaide Supreme Court.  The estate, worth £80,000, was settled with embattled son John receiving £10000 and daughter Elizabeth, Mrs Kirby, receiving half of the balance.  Her children received the other half of the estate.

John began to spend time between Mt Koroite and Mingbool.  He’d  been  breeding and racing horses for a couple of years but with the use of  Mingbool,  his interests grew and in 1890 he established the “Mingbool Stud”, primarily breeding sheep but also horses and cattle.  An article from the Border Watch on February 18, 1903, reported that Mingbool ran 19,000 sheep, 500 head of cattle and 100 horses.

From the same article:

THE MINGBOOL ESTATE. (1903, February 18). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77157688

By the middle of 1908, John Kirby had acquired three promising young thoroughbreds, Halloween, Benderay and The Parisian.  Benderay was the pick of the trio, brought by Kirby in Dublin, Ireland. Kirby eventually sold the out of form horse in 1912.  Halloween showed a little more promise and picked up a few races for Kirby, but he sold him at auction in 1911.  That left The Parisian, bought by Kirby in 1907 at the Melbourne Yearling Sales.  His sire was Bobadil, winner of the 1899 Australian Cup and Champion Stakes and his dam was The Parisienne.

BOBADILL, SIRE OF THE PARISIAN
(1911, March 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38825171

After his victory in the show ring in 1908, The Parisian had gone into full-time work by January 1909 with Ernie Hartwell.

On and Off the Racecourse. (1923, June 23). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63442639

One of his early races, if not his first, was a six furlong Maiden Plate at Sandown Park on April 7, 1909, where he ran fourth, beaten by over 10 lengths.

The Parisian scored his first victory on April 19 at the Mentone Races and backed up an hour later to attempt a double.  An undecided outcome in the second race led to a third race at the end of the meet.

SPORTING INTELLIGENCE. (1909, April 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 4. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10691394

Despite his breeding,  he was only raced over shorter distances with little success. The Parisian was put up for auction.  The great Bobby Lewis, in later years, recalled that time.

£76,000 PLUNGE THAT MISSED. (1933, December 13). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), p. 6 Edition: LATE CITY. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.ne

Passed in, he was then sent to James Agnew, a Hamilton trainer, joining the stable on January 1, 1910.  Agnew soon realised that The Parisian was a stayer and increased his distances with success. The Parisian won the 1910 Warrnambool and Hamilton Cups under Agnew.

James Agnew’s wins with The Parisian were not enough for him to stay in his stables.  The Parisian, along with Halloween were leased to Charlie  Wheeler of Caulfield in June 1910.

Wheeler took the lead of James Agnew and placed The Parisian over longer journeys and both he and Halloween were nominated for the 1910 Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup not long after their arrival in the Wheeler stable.

On October 1, The Argus newspaper’s ongoing summary of the Cup candidates featured The Parisian.  With ordinary lead in form, it looked unlikely The Parisian would line up in the Caulfield Cup, with the Melbourne Cup a more likely option.  It was also noted that in his last race he had struck himself and was given a few days off work.

CUP CANDIDATES. (1910, October 1). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 17. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10465357

The Parisian did not recover fully from his injury, a cracked heel, in time for the 1910 Melbourne Cup and was scratched.

The Parisian’s first win of any note was the 1911 Australian Cup.  The lead up to the race was eventful.  Scheduled to run on March 7, heavy rain leading up to the race saw the meeting postponed and rescheduled for March 9, however the rain had not let up and it was again rescheduled for Saturday March 11.

Considered a weak field, there were only 14 runners and  The Parisian was sent out second favourite.  As the field turned into the Flemington straight The Parisian drew clear and won by six lengths, easing up.

V.R.C. AUTUMN MEETING. (1911, March 13). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 8. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10885768

(1911, March 28). Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916), p. 20. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33388818

V.R.C. AUTUMN MEETING. (1911, March 13). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 8. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10885768

The Parisian then went off to the Sydney Cup, but he was not fully sound and struggled into 12th.

SPORTING. (1911, April 15). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45127765

The next big race for The Parisian would be the 1911 Melbourne Cup.

CUP CANDIDATES. (1911, October 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11621080

In the week leading up to the Cup, The Parisian again had heel problems and could not put his hoof to the ground.  It once again looked like he would be scratched.  Charlie Wheeler, put him out in a small paddock, full of cape weed,  next to the stables.  The move paid off for Wheeler and on the morning of the race, The Parisian was galloping madly around his paddock trying to avoid capture.

A record crowd of 115,000 people headed to Flemington for the 51st running of the Melbourne Cup.

THE 51st MELBOURNE CUP—THE PARISIAN’S EASY WIN FROM FLAVIAN AND DIDUS. (1911, November 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38837876

Trafalgar was favourite and The Parisian ridden by Thomas Ronald Cameron, second favourite, in a strong field.

The 33 horse field jumped and went fast early and as the they passed the judge’s box for the first time, the field was well strung out.  The Parisian began to make his move coming into the straight for the last time, but Cameron waited, not giving the horse his head until the last.  There was no doubt though as The Parisian overtook the leaders and won by two lengths, although many thought it was more.  The win was later described as “hollow” and “soft”

THE 51st MELBOURNE CUP—THE PARISIAN’S EASY WIN FROM FLAVIAN AND DIDUS. (1911, November 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38837876

THE 51st MELBOURNE CUP—THE PARISIAN’S EASY WIN FROM FLAVIAN AND DIDUS. (1911, November 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3883787

After weighing in,  Thomas Cameron was mobbed by stable boys and other jockeys.  Meanwhile, out in the birdcage, John Finn Kirby’s dream had come true, he was the owner of a Melbourne Cup winner and his delight was clear.

THE RECORD CUP. (1911, November 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 13. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11630312

Reflecting 20 years later, Charlie Wheeler, revealed the key to training The Parisian for the Cup.

CHARLIE WHEELER’S MEMORIES. (1932, October 29). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59832043

CHARLIE WHEELER’S MEMORIES. (1932, October 29). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59832043

In the days after the Cup, The Parisian was sent to Bacchus Marsh for a spell, while John Kirby collected his winnings on “Settling Day” at the Victorian Club.  His winnings from the bookmakers thought to be around  £40,000.  The stakes from the Cup another £7000, although Wheeler, as the lessee, would have received the bulk of that.  The Victorian Heritage Database notes that at around that time,  Mt Koroite Homestead received extensive renovations and extensions presumably from Kirby’s winnings.  He had a manager and many staff including a resident Chinese gardener and a chauffeur, Archie Gunning, who drove one of the first cars in the district.

(1911, November 21). Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916), p. 25. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33400021

THE NOBLE ART. (1911, November 12). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), p. 15. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57722192

An Autumn 1912 preparation was on the agenda for The Parisian including a chance to repeat his win in the Australian Cup for which he was favourite.  Unfortunately, his cracked heel again gave him trouble and he was sent to the paddock, missing all engagements.

Brought back for the Spring Carnival, The Parisian ran in the Memsie Handicap first up, but was needing the run.  He returned in the Rupertswood Handicap where he showed more, but was tender after the race.  During the following week, The Parisian pulled up lame after trackwork and the decision was made to end his Spring campaign,

Autumn Carnival 1913, and once again The Australian Cup was set down for The Parisian.  Punters were wary though, given the ongoing query about the horse’s soundness.  That caution paid off, as The Parisian’s cracked heel again saw him turned out.

It would have seemed unlikely that The Parisian would return for the Spring Carnival, 1913, but as a gelding he did not have a stud career to retire to, so he returned again.  There were reports in early October that he had gone amiss, however he still ran in the Caulfield Cup on October 18.  There were rumours that the horse had problems and would be scratched, however Charlie Wheeler insisted the horse was fine and ran him.  The Parisian ran a creditable 4th but  pulled up lame.

Wheeler’s patience were wearing thin and advised Mr Kirby the horse should be scratched for the rest of the Spring.  Eventually in early November , Wheeler returned the horse to Kirby and The Parisian looked set to retire.

Sporting. (1913, October 29). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77650783

However, in January it was reported that The Parisian would return to racing in the Western District but not before he raced in the Australian Cup in March.

WORLD OF SPORT. (By “Wakeful.”) THE TURF. (1914, January 17). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45268231

Plans changed again as Charlie Wheeler began an Autumn 1914 preparation with The Parisian.  After a few starts, Wheeler finally gave up and once and for all returned The Parisian to Coleraine.

The Turf. (1914, May 7). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), p. 8 Edition: THIRD EDITION. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79921650

At last , the retirement  a Melbourne Cup winner deserves, looked likely.  Nothing of  The Parisian racing appears in the newspaper racing pages until March 1917.   On St Patrick’s Day, 1917, The Parisian returned to racing at the Coleraine Racecourse, across from Mt Koroite Homestead.  With a hefty weight of 14 stone 9 lbs, the heaviest ever carried at Coleraine, and ridden by none other the John Kirby’s chauffeur, Archie Gunning, The Parisian broke down again.

COLERAINE RACES. (1917, March 19). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88021248

There was little doubt that The Parisian had run his last race and around two months later, the sad news came through that The Parisian had been destroyed.  Reports stated it was due to a start at a picnic meeting in the Western District.  With no reports of the horse racing between March 17 and May, it would have to be assumed that his injuries were due to the unreasonable task given to him on St Patrick’s Day at Coleraine, when he is only purpose in racing, it seems, was to attract a crowd.

SPORTING. (1917, May 17). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 10. Retrieved November 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1618494

This snippet from the Barrier Miner newspaper from Broken Hill, four years before The Parisian’s death, foresaw what was to come.  Two further unsuccessful preparations and three years presumably in the paddock, he seemingly needed to earn more oats.  One would have thought he had earned more than a life time’s supply.

WORLD OF SPORT. (1913, March 8). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved November 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45222242

A sad end for a brave horse.

And what of  John Finn Kirby?  He passed away at Portland on April 7, 1942 aged 84.   Elizabeth had passed away 21 years earlier at the Kirby home “Koroite” in Kew, Melbourne.  History shows that The Parisian was the best horse Kirby owned, save for Napier, a winner of the Great Eastern Steeplechase at Oakbank and the Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool.

OBITUARY. (1942, April 13). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64379650

Wondering what my tip is for the 2012 Melbourne Cup?  Well I can’t go past the French theme which has been profitable for me the past two years.

SOURCES:

Trove Australia – List – The Parisian

Victorian Heritage Database


Alice Hawthorne – The Western Mare

On October 3, 1857, a small grey mare known as “Alice” lined up for a match race with her rival Veno, from the colony of New South Wales, a race that would in time be remembered for its significance in setting the foundations for what has become Australia’s greatest horse race and strengthening the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry in Australia.  It was a  time when inter-colonial rivalry was high, but this period of  racing’s history shows that the racing fraternities of each colony, while still highly competitive, where able to work together in a harmonious way to develop the industry we have today. This story is not so much about the match race,  rather the life of the grey mare and the mark she left on Australian racing history.

“Alice”, bred at Mt William Station in the Western District and owned by great racing supporters, the Chirnsides , was born sometime around 1849.    Her sire was Delpare, an imported horse and her dam, Polly McQuinn, a part-Arab mare, bloodlines common in the early days of racing in Australia.   “Alice” was branded with the Chirnside’s  “key” brand.  Horses bearing that brand could never be sold.

DEATH OF ALICE HAWTHORNE. (1860, August 18). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59873244

At age three “Alice” was broken in and she spent time as a stock horse but, unlike her mother, she was not a good riding horse.  The Chinese workers at the station used her to carry rations to workers situated at out stations on the property but she developed a fistula wither, a painful condition, and was turned out.   During this time she became loose on the station roaming the bush for 15 months. She ran with a wild horse and the result was a foal which died.  Time in the bush had not served her well, but back on pasture, she blossomed.

Put to work again, “Alice” was used by Robert Christison, a horse-breaker at Mt William, to act as  “nursemaid” to the young thoroughbreds he was breaking in.  On one occasion, the young horses had missed a muster and Christison chose  “Alice” to bring them back to the main paddock.  What a surprise he received.  This article, “Racing and Romance, Two Western Mares” includes excerpts from the book “After Many Days” by Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh that recount that day:

RACING AND ROMANCE. (1928, September 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 2 Supplement: The Argus. Saturday Camera Supplement.. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3956921

The little mare, who not long before had roamed the bush, impressed and ousted the talented Miss Campbell from her prime stall in the stables.  She was also given her name,  Alice Hawthorne.

Her first race was at Hamilton over a mile and half.  “Alice” won, kicking off a remarkable career which would span the next four years.  As was racing in those times, “Alice” returned to Hamilton the following day and backed up the win.

HAMILTON. (1856, January 21). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-It

It was not long before Alice Hawthorne was racing at Ballarat, Geelong and then Flemington.  This sketch shows her storming down the outside to win the Turf Club Autumn Cup of 1857.

Flemington: Past and Present. (1891, October 24). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 – 1872), p. 13. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63613318

It was this race and others that saw Alice Hawthorne considered one of Victoria’s best horses and in turn her name was given as a challenger to a N.S.W. horse in a match race of £1000 aside.  The Victorians wanted to nominate three horses and select the best on the day, however this was rejected by their N.S.W. colleagues who nominated just one horse, the chestnut Veno.  Alice Hawthorne it was.

LOCAL NEWS. (1857, July 1). The Hobart Town Mercury (Tas. : 1857), p. 2. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3244328

There were some doubt in the minds of the Victorians that “Alice” was up to the task and her odds went out.  Others considered the home track advantage would help her.  Veno’s arrival in Melbourne created much interest with crowds of people gathering to see the Sydney horse.

VICTORIA. (1857, August 1). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867006

Meanwhile there were security fears for “Alice’ and her trainer Mr Green built a stable at his home to accommodate her safely.

VENO AND ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, August 29). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 10, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867185

This thorough description of “Alice”, including her physique, action and temperament is unlike anything seen today.  The Melbourne correspondent noted her “fine, even temper which nothing can ruffle is the theme of universal admiration”.  Jokes were often made about her arrival at the starting line for races, looking like she had just had a sleep. This probably helped her settle in her races and run out the three miles.

ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, September 5). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867231

Those attending the Great Inter-Colonial Match race from Sydney could take up the offer from the Australian Steam Navigation Company of a return ticket at a reduced rate.

THE WRECK OF THE DUNBAR. (1857, September 5). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64986713

In the preceding days, something akin to the call of the card was held at the Tattersall’s Hotel in Russell Street, where the original challenge was offered.  A healthy amount of money was wagered, all with a sense of good sportsmanship.

Chair, Mr Goldsborough welcomed the sporting men of Sydney, including trainer Mr Rowe, and reassured them that they “would be met upon all occasions in the hearty spirit of true sportsmen”.

At the gathering,  a decision was made to set up a subscription room at the Tattersalls Hotel for those of “good respectability and conduct’ for a season ticket of ten shillings.   The Produce Stakes was also devised, open to horses from all colonies.

VENO AND ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, October 2). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28633161

On the morning of October 3, 1857, all roads led to Flemington.  For others, a steamer up the Saltwater River (Maribyrnong River) was the preferred transport.

SPORTING INTELLIGENCE. (1857, October 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7139724

As feared by many Victorians, it was not  Alice Hawthorne’s day, with Veno winning the three mile race.  “Alice” was not disgraced but could not match the stamina of Veno.

FIRST RACE. THE MATCH FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP.—VICTORIA V. NEW SOUTH WALES. (1857, October 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 1 Edition: Second Edition.. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13001270

Veno’s trainer accepted another challenge with the horse backing up two races later against Victorian Van Tromp.  Veno raced another three miles, finishing in a faster time than his race against “Alice”, beating Van Tromp by two lengths.

The Victorian racing fraternity were left questioning their horses’ bloodlines and those from the colony of N.S.W. left no doubt  where Veno hailed from as this headline from the Empire, a Sydney newspaper shows.

[SECOND EDITION.]. (1857, October 8). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 3 Edition: 2nd edition. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60261613

This article from The Argus, written in the days, stressed how important breeding better Victorian horses was if they were to match it with the other colonies and the need for good horse races such as the match race, to make sure that the standard of horse improved.

The Argus. (1857, October 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7139706

It was not long before “Alice” was back racing and on December 2, she was at Ballarat, once again a winner.

THE RACES. SECOND DAY. (1857, December 3). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 2. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66045460

On Thursday February 18, 1858, Alice Hawthorne won the Great Metropolitan Handicap at Flemington, redeeming herself with those her dismissed her both before and after her match race with Veno.

VICTORIA JOCKEY CLUB RACE MEETING. (1858, February 26). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 3. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60426399

“Alice” continued to race and win.  Just over twelve months after her match race, she was still considered Victoria’s leading three miler, although some thought this was because she had nothing to beat.

No title. (1858, November 6). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59869552

October 1, 1859 was the first running of the Australian Champion Sweepstakes at Flemington racecourse.  Horses from the colonies of South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania were among the entries, true inter-colonial racing.

One of the entries, The Barber from South Australia, had an unfortunate and unexpected link to the Western District. The Barber’s transportation to Melbourne was the steamer Admella.  The Admella struck trouble along the South Australian coast near the Victorian border and the Portland lifeboat Ladybird  with Captain James Fawthrop at her helm went to the rescue.  All the horses aboard the steamer drowned, except for The Barber, who amazingly came to shore, two and a half miles away from the wreck.  He was then walked overland to Geelong and travelled by rail to Melbourne.  Not surprisingly he finished close to the tail of the field in the Sweepstakes.

“Alice”, by this time at least 10 years old, acquitted herself well in the three mile race running fourth behind the winner Victorian Flying Buck,  a three year old.

THE CHAMPION RACE DAY. (1859, October 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5689255

Alice Hawthorne ran her last race in November 1859 in  the Turf Club Welter Handicap over three miles.  She won by 10 lengths and retired with £5000 in stakes money, the highest of any horse in the colonies.

VICTORIA. (1859, November 26). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 4. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59871699

The Chirnsides sent their mare to stud for a meeting with their imported stallion Peeping Tom. It is not clear if the mating was successful.

On August 12  1860, the mare they called “Alice” passed away at the Chirnside’s Point Cook property at 12 years of age, only nine months out of racing.  Her lungs that gave her the stamina to run long distances had failed her.

MELBOURNE NEWS. (1860, August 16). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87945829

DEATH OF ALICE HAWTHORNE. (1860, August 18). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59873244

“Alice” went from the foothills of the Grampians to matching it with some of the leading horses in Victoria and the other colonies.  She easily could  have remained at Mount William Station as nurse maid to the future stars of the Chirnside’s stables.  It was only for her demonstration of brilliance rounding up the escaped horses that saw her rise to becoming a household name.   She saw hard racing considering many of her races were over three miles, a mile further than the Melbourne Cup.  Horses from her time could run two three mile races in a day, just as Veno did on October 3, 1857.

In 1861, the first Melbourne Cup was run.  Racing was building up to a race like the Cup from the time of the Great Inter-Colonial match race, the Great Metropolitan Handicap and the Sweepstakes, but unlike those races it has endured and strengthened over 150 years.  Racing was evolving, as it was suggested it should after the 1857 match race, by creating great horse races to improve the stock.  Unfortunately for Victoria, Archer from N.S.W. won the first two cups.  Banker, bred by Woodend hotel keeper Joseph Harper, finally won for the colony in 1863.  The Great Inter-Colonial match race began the stream of horses across the borders to race in Victoria.  Today, Victorian racing is International, with overseas horses not only racing  here in the spring, but taking the main prize.

Alice Hawthorne and her rivals of the time have a place in Australian racing history.  While the leaders of the Australian colonies were struggling to work together on a united front, the connections of these horses were showing their political counterparts how to do it.  The Sporting Notes of The Argus of March 24, 1865 praised those involved in racing.  Between the Great Inter-Colonial match race in 1857 and 1865, the racing clubs of the colonies had agreed on a single birth date for all thoroughbreds, August 1 and Victoria had revised its Weight for Age system to come into line with the other colonies.  The correspondent said “It would be remarkable, if meeting pleasantly on the neutral ground of sport, the Australian colonies were thereby hereafter to meet in an equally friendly spirit to deal with  more important questions”

SPORTING NOTES. (1865, March 24). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5734367

At the time of the death of Andrew Chirnside,  The Border Watch reported that Alice Hawthorne helped make his name in racing circles.

SPORTING NOTES. (1890, May 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77489433

I came to know about Alice Hawthorne while searching for articles about Mt. William Station at Trove .  My ggg grandfather James Mortimer and his family arrived at Mt William Station around 1853, about the time “Alice” was broken in.  He was there when she was working as a packhorse and when she rounded up the young horses.  When Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh was at Munthum Station and heard the stories of the Delpare mare, James Mortimer was at Mt William Station.  Was James Mortimer one of the stockmen who rode Alice her and dismissed her as a riding horse?  He at the very least would have heard the talk of her.

The talk of her continued for years after.  Donald McDonald, in 1928, put Alice Hawthorne’s racing career into perspective.

RACING AND ROMANCE. (1928, September 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 2 Supplement: The Argus. Saturday Camera Supplement.. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article395692


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