There were few family names more resonant in the commerce of Sydney during the first half of the twentieth century than that of Hordern. The huge emporium of Anthony Hordern and Sons stood defiantly on the historic slope of Brickfield Hill proudly proclaiming to the world under its trademark spreading oak tree the motto: ‘While I live I’ll grow.’ And it did. The original Hordern family to migrate to Sydney came from Staffordshire in England in March 1825 and moved to escape family opprobrium over a marriage that was deemed unsuitable. The Horderns quickly moved into merchandising and land speculation in their newly adopted country, acquiring a considerable fortune. The man most responsible for consolidating the Hordern fortunes, and the first Samuel Hordern relevant to our Derby chronicle, was born in Sydney in 1849 on the spot where the original emporium burgeoned.
He was a young aristocrat at heart with a lively appreciation of the pleasures of life, reared in a great house with all the delights of the countryside at hand, and all the distracting resources of birth and riches. Samuel enjoyed an Arcadian youth, spent in earthly paradises. Educated at Camden College, at the age of seventeen he joined his father’s firm and began to learn the rudiments of retailing, gradually ascending the scales of management. In 1875 at Paddington he married Jane Booth, the daughter of one of the founders of Milton on the south coast of New South Wales. In August of the following year, Samuel’s father died, and he became a very wealthy young man. However, the real change in his fortunes occurred ten years later in 1886, following the death of his older brother, Anthony, from brain fever while at sea. Samuel paid 158,252 pounds for Anthony’s share of the business. In so doing, he became the sole proprietor of Anthony Hordern and Sons, Universal Providers of the Palace Emporium, in the Haymarket. While there were five other competing Hordern shops in Sydney at the time, it was Samuel’s Haymarket enterprise that thrived.
To most of the Horderns, wealth, power and magnanimity went together although the family’s undisputed altruism had a shrewdly practical side. Never one to obtrude himself in public affairs, Samuel’s first love – apart from the family business – was yachting; he was commodore of the Prince Alfred Yacht Club. Balanced against this love of the ocean was an equally abiding passion for country life and all things rural. It was this love that led him in the 1880s to buy Wilton Park and Retford Park near Bowral and develop the properties as a stud farm.
The farm bred all of the cattle as well as all the dray horses employed in the delivery service of the Hordern stores; but part of the farm was also developed into a thoroughbred nursery, the famous Wilton Park Stud. Fully established by Samuel Hordern in 1891, Wilton Park consisted of some 2500 acres of fertile undulating land on the right bank of the Nepean River about two miles from the main southern railway near Maldon. In 1890 gangs of men were set at clearing, ploughing, fencing and dam-making. All timber other than shade trees were cleared from the numerous paddocks. Various types of grass were laid down on the hills and flats; while ranges of splendid summer and winter boxes, round-houses, stallion houses, yards and shelter sheds were constructed on the estate under the supervision of Fred Day. Fred Day was an English veterinary surgeon originally hailing from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, but who for a few years relocated to Sydney.
No expense was spared in establishing Wilton Park as a model estate. Some fashionably bred mares were purchased, both in England and from within Australia. From England and the 1891 Newmarket July Sales came the likes of Deborah, by Arbitrator (100 guineas); Spite, by Dutch Skater (310 guineas); and Idolatry (540 guineas), a daughter of Isonomy. All were bought on behalf of Hordern by Fred Day who had gone home to England especially to fill the commission, and the trio all foaled good-class winners in the paddocks of Wilton Park. To supplement this imported lineage, in Australia Hordern acquired such distinguished performers on the turf as Grace Darling and Trieste, not to mention well-bred fillies such as Novelette. And yet Hordern enjoyed his first major success on the Australian Turf not with any aristocratically bred horses of his own but with a former Queensland Cup winner Realm that he bought second hand. A rather ordinarily bred five-year-old son of Archie, Hordern acquired him from the Queensland sportsman Captain Sandeman for 900 guineas plus a £100 contingency. In cracking form at the 1893 A.J.C. Autumn Meeting, Realm won both the Autumn Stakes and the Sydney Cup.
As we have seen in an earlier chapter, it was Nordenfeldt that was installed at Wilton Park as the foundation stallion to be mated with the select harem of mares, and Hordern had intended to retain and race all of the progeny himself. However, upon the death of Nordenfeldt in June 1895, Hordern despatched his stud manager, Michael Power, to England with an unlimited commission to purchase a son of St Simon with which to replace him. The genial Irishman journeyed throughout the kingdom in his quest, and his choice eventually fell on two sons of St Simon, Haut Brion and Gigue. Gigue was to sink without trace in Australia but Haut Brion, who was out of Bonnie Lassie, a daughter of Brother to Strafford, was to be something else. The winner of three races from twelve starts and £2,180 in stakes on the English Turf, Haut Brion was a member of the famous ‘Sunflower’ family and had been bred by General Owen Williams. During his three seasons’ racing in England, Haut Brion had won a race each year: The Breeders’ Foal Plate at Manchester as a two-year-old; the Rothschild Plate at Gatwick the following year; and the Royal Stakes at Epsom in 1894. Sunflower, the third dam of Haut Brion, was also the dam of Sunbeam (1858 English St Leger) and the granddam of Sunshine (1870 Coronation Stakes). Sunshine herself was the great granddam of Positano, yet another son of St Simon who was just then beginning what was to prove an extraordinary stud career in Australia.
Haut Brion was out in the same season as that other son of St Simon that was to have such a profound influence on the Australian Turf – Bill of Portland. The pair met once as two-year-olds in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes of £3,200 at Goodwood. Haut Brion was second favourite and Bill of Portland the favourite, although they could only finish third and fourth respectively. Haut Brion had just completed his first season at Robert Peck’s Howbury Hall Stud serving a limited number of mares when he was sold to Hordern. Haut Brion was shipped to Australia in the ‘Nineveh’, together with some well-bred English mares such as Meridian and Nineveh, for his future pleasure at Wilton Park, creating tremendous interest upon arrival here in September 1896, after a particularly rough passage from Cape Town. Samuel Hordern took advantage of the gathering brought about by the A.J.C. Spring Meeting of 1896 and issued invitations to an inspection of his latest stallion on the quarantine grounds. A large assembly of more than one hundred people gathered and included among them was William Bailey, who, as we shall see, would enjoy such conspicuous success with colts from the stallion’s first two crops. A horse of much quality and substance, Haut Brion was advertised at 50 guineas although he attracted few outside mares in that initial season.
The first crop of Haut Brion’s yearlings went through the Sydney sales ring in April 1899. Wilton Park offered seven lots from an excellent selection of imported and Australasian mares yielding an aggregate amount of 765 guineas or an average of around 110 guineas per yearling. Pedigrees apart, the news that some of the progeny from Haut Brion’s only English crop such as Connoisseur and Excellenza were showing promise piqued buyer interest. I might mention that the stallion took his name from the Chateau Haut Brion, one of the great historic wine estates of France, whose wines are even mentioned in the diaries of Samuel Pepys. It is the oldest, and by far the smallest of the ‘premier cru class’ vineyards of the Bordeaux 1855 classification and lies in the region known as the Graves, south of the Medoc and immediately to the south of the city of Bordeaux. Certainly, there was nothing incongruous about applying the name to this stallion, for no sooner had the first of Haut Brion’s progeny hit the racecourses of Sydney and Melbourne than this son of St Simon had become the toast of Australian sportsmen.
Among the handful of buyers bidding on that first crop was the well-known Ballarat sportsman, William Bailey, who had been one of the original partners in the famous J. B. Clark syndicate that raced horses through the Newmarket stables of Tom Payten in the early nineties. Bailey was on the lookout for a Derby horse, to repeat the success that he had enjoyed in the Flemington blue riband with Cocos in 1898. Bailey’s fancy was taken by a brown colt out of the imported broodmare Meridian, a daughter of Marden bought by Power in England on behalf of Samuel Hordern, and who had accompanied the two St Simon stallions on that voyage to Australia on the Ninevah. Bailey had to go to 130 guineas to secure ownership, but in so doing he got the best colt of Haut Brion’s first crop.
Registered as Hautboy and trained by Tom Payten, he became the first of the Haut Brions to score in Australia when he won the Mona Nursery at Caulfield in mid-October and the Flemington Stakes for two-year-olds on the last day of the V.R.C. Spring Meeting. Afterwards, he returned to Randwick where he won twice before the New Year including the prestigious December Stakes. Hautboy might have been the smartest of the Haut Brion colts in that first season, but the old boy got a couple of good fillies, Haulette and Hautesse, in that same crop as well. Haulette, raced by William Brown, was classy enough to win the Champagne Stakes at Randwick while Hautesse later at the same gathering appropriated the Easter Stakes. There were other winners besides this trio seen out during the season including Courada, who carried the colours of Will and Fred Moses.
It came as no surprise therefore when the bidding on Haut Brion’s second offering of yearlings proved more spirited than the first, nor was it a surprise that William Bailey was again in the vanguard of buyers. In April 1900 Samuel Hordern sent up seven yearlings by Haut Brion for Tom Clibborn’s annual sale, and William Bailey paid 1130 guineas to obtain just two of them. The first was a lovely bay filly out of the imported mare Spite, a half-sister to the useful horse Spiteful, which Tom Payten secured on Bailey’s behalf for 700 guineas and retained to train. The second was a stylish brown colt out of Narara for which James Scobie paid 430 guineas on Bailey’s behalf and kept to train. The pair registered respectively as Hautain and Hautvilliers were the two most expensive Haut Brions to go through the sales ring that year. They were also the best, and before their juvenile season had ended, William Bailey held high hopes that an A.J.C. blue riband might well be within his grasp at last.
Both Hautain and Hautvilliers were seen out in the early spring in Melbourne, although the filly was the more precocious, waltzing off with the Debutant Stakes at Caulfield in October at a time when the Scobie stable was sweeping all before it. Hautvilliers took a little longer to hit his straps, but the first unmistakable sign of potential came on New Year’s Day when he ran second to a future Melbourne Cup winner, The Victory, in the Criterion Handicap at Flemington. The following week he broke his maiden status at Caulfield with an effortless win in the Alma Stakes, when a pronounced favourite with Bob Lewis in the saddle. That was a memorable day for both Scobie and Lewis, for they scored a double with juveniles when their horse United States, a giant son of Bill of Portland raced by Sir Rupert Clarke, won the Oakleigh Purse on the same card. At the V.R.C. Autumn Meeting, Hautvilliers was set aside for the Ascot Vale Stakes while his stablemate, United States, appropriated the Sires’ Produce Stakes – his last victory before leg problems blighted the balance of his career.
In the Ascot Vale, Hautvilliers, who went to the post as the 1/2 favourite in the four-horse field, made all the running to win by three lengths from Elderslie and Grasspan. Brought across to Sydney as part of Scobie’s team for the A.J.C. Autumn Meeting, Hautvilliers could only run third behind the Maribyrnong Plate winner, Ibex, and Grasspan, in the Champagne Stakes. That event was notable for the coincidence that the seven runners passed the judge’s box in the order in which their names appeared on the race card. Curiously enough, the winner, Ibex, was having his first start since the Maribyrnong Plate. A beautifully grown colt by Gossoon bred at the famous Kirkham Stud, Ibex seemed at that stage of his preparation the beau ideal of a Derby colt. William Mate, a grazier from the Riverina, had acquired him at the Kirkham disposal when he gave just 40 guineas for the mare Angora, then in foal to Gossoon. Prepared by Prosper Gough at Randwick, Ibex was freely spoken of as the likely winner of the following season’s Derby, although the result of the Easter Stakes just two days after the Champagne gave his supporters cause for concern.
The three top juveniles of the season – Ibex, Hautvilliers and Grasspan that had filled the placings in the Champagne – all contested the Easter Stakes, although this time the distance was a furlong more and thus a better Derby guide. Again, Ibex and Hautvilliers carried the same weight in 9 st. 7lb, although this time giving Grasspan a stone instead of just 10lb as was the case in the Champagne Stakes. It was this race that suggested Hautvilliers was the best Derby prospect, for although he couldn’t overhaul Grasspan at the finish, going under by a half-length, he still finished a good three lengths in front of Ibex. Hautvilliers then went to the paddock after a season on which William Bailey could reflect with pride.
In originally naming Hautvilliers, Bailey had in mind the famous abbey of that name situated on a hill overlooking the Marne River in the Champagne region of France. Wine buffs are very familiar with the place for it was here that in the year 1668, a young man who had entered Benedictine orders just a few years before, came to fulfil the function of Procureur. Among his secular tasks was tending the vineyard and winemaking, and, while the legend that he invented champagne is just that, Perignon did make important contributions to improving the wine’s quality. As William Bailey contemplated the prospect of his first A.J.C. blue riband from the comfort of his Drummond-street residence in Ballarat during the cold and bitter winter of 1901, he laid aside a bottle of vintage champagne in readiness.
1901 was a significant year for the Australian Jockey Club for it saw the organisation move into its new Bligh-street premises. In 1900 the club, after obtaining the sanction of the members, proceeded with the erection of new offices on land purchased there. The Annual General Meeting in August 1900 that took place for the last time at the Exchange Hotel in Pitt-street, reported that satisfactory progress had been made in construction such that full occupation occurred early the following year. The plans and specifications for the structure were prepared by Messrs. Mansfield and Son, architects, and when the building was completed it became a worthy architectural feature of the city.
The first Annual General Meeting to be held in the new building was in August 1901. Strangely enough, this new building was almost directly opposite the first offices of the club. At that time, meetings of the club were held at Mr Buchan Thompson’s residence, and large stables were kept next door. The foreman of the stables there was none other than Mr W. Woodburn, the future Randwick racecourse caretaker who worked so successfully with Thomas Clibborn for many years. After that time the offices of the A.J.C. had been at various locations including 172 Castlereagh-street, 163 King-street, and at 14 Castlereagh-street. In the last-named address, the business of the club was conducted for some ten years. The A.J.C. committee had determined that there would be a financial advantage as well as improved accommodation in making the move to freehold property in the city, owned by the club itself.
Fifteen days prior to the opening of the A.J.C. Spring Meeting, came news of the sad death of William Forrester at his Warwick Farm residence, three days shy of his 59th birthday. Some ten days before, the big man had been seized with a paralytic stroke and a second stroke proved fatal. Forrester never did win the A.J.C. Derby after his narrow failure with Moselle back in 1869, but at least he could claim successive Melbourne Cups in 1897 and 1898 with those full brothers Gaulus and The Grafter, including the quinella in the first of them. Just the year before his death, Forrester had won the V.R.C. Newmarket Handicap with The Watchdog. Other major victories for Forrester over the years had included an Australian Cup with Highborn in 1892 and a Doncaster Handicap with Donizetti in 1894.
Still, Black Bill’s time on the Turf was perhaps more defined by his near misses and frustrated gambles in the rich handicaps than his occasional successes. Prior to winning his first Melbourne Cup, Forrester had suffered from a remarkable series of placings in the race. In 1890 his horse Highborn ran second to Carbine and the following year ran fourth to Malvolio. In 1892 he had two runners, Ronda and Penance, and they finished second and third behind Glenloth. Twice his horses finished in third place in the Caulfield Cup, Gipsy Cooper (1882) and The Chief (1898), after being strongly backed by him. In the less than four years left to him after Gaulus won him his first Melbourne Cup, Forrester spent over 30,000 pounds on the upkeep of his Warwick Farm stables and stud farm. A heavy gambler from the moment that he began his racing career, Forrester was also a generous patron of many charities which made heavy inroads into an already depleted purse. Accordingly, when he died, he died poor, leaving a widow and five children, the youngest of whom was fifteen.
During his long connection with the Australian Turf, Forrester became famous for his straightforward and sportsmanlike qualities. The funeral cortege was one of the largest ever witnessed in the district and included a roll call of Sydney’s leading trainers. Forrester’s remains were interred in Liverpool cemetery. It seemed fitting that the day was wet and cheerless. When William Long heard of Forrester’s death, he, knowing the adverse financial circumstances in which Forrester had left his family, approached the chairman of the A.J.C., H. C. Dangar, and suggested a benefit race meeting at Randwick. Dangar demurred, and although fully sympathising with the suggestion, could not see his way clear to granting the use of the course as it would have left the club open to no end of similar requests. Rather, Dangar responded: “Start a subscription list and I will open it with 100 pounds.”
Within a week of Forrester’s death, a well-attended meeting was held at the Tattersall’s Club solely for the purpose of addressing the problem. Mr A. Hill, the chairman of Tattersall’s presided, and a subscription fund was started and Walter Hall matched Dangar’s contribution with 100 pounds of his own money. Before the meeting had ended a sum in excess of 500 pounds had been subscribed. Eventually, the fund ran to more than 1,000 pounds, ample testimony to the generosity of the sporting fraternity. Years after Forrester’s death when Liverpool cemetery was being closed, his youngest daughter Ellie May had the remains of her father and mother exhumed, and then cremated at Northern Suburbs Crematorium, and had their ashes scattered near the present-day winning post at Warwick Farm.
The perceptive visitor to Randwick on Derby Day 1901 would have noticed a number of improvements. For the first time on Derby Day, the long-sought extensions to the tramway service were operational, with visitors to the metropolitan heath landing in the racecourse reserve without having to run the risk of traffic on Randwick road. The extensions, which first became operational the previous Boxing Day, had the tram cars pull up at a lengthy platform opposite the centre of the grandstand enclosure. Once on the course, visitors would have noticed that the AJC committee had finally adopted the practice of placing the name of the occupant over each horse stall so that bettors could locate the particular horse they wished to inspect. After all, the system had been operational at Rosehill for some time. While the starting barrier and the numbered saddle cloth had rendered racing much more acceptable to the public, there were still further improvements to be made. Visitors would have been disappointed to see that the racebook neither listed the trainer’s name, nor the past winners of principal races to be conducted on that day in the manner of the leading race clubs in Victoria.
On a typical spring day with no threat of rain and attendance of nearly 17,000 people, a field of seven confronted Mr Watson and his flag for the Derby start at Randwick. There were two defections from the ranks of Derby candidates: the Queensland colt Hong Kong, included among the acceptors as an oversight; and Ibex, whose name disappeared from the list just before 1 o’clock, the cause of his withdrawal being a bruised heel. Accordingly, the pronounced favourite for the race was the handsome Hautvilliers. Scobie had arrived in Sydney from Ballarat on the last Sunday in August and put up at the Coach and Horses Hotel along with Paul Pry as the only other member of his team, and he presented Hautvilliers in sterling order. Grasspan and Sir Leonard disputed the honours of second favouritism. Grasspan was the first of that famous trio of brothers to carry the colours of Agar Wynne, although at this stage of his sporting career Wynne disguised his true identity with the nom de course of ‘A. W. Raby’. Bred by his trainer, Tom Payten, in conjunction with the studmaster James Thompson, Grasspan had been bought privately by Wynne when a yearling.
Grasspan was seen out very early in his first season, winning the Mona Nursery (4f) at the Caulfield Spring Meeting. Although he failed in the Maribyrnong Plate, this imposing son of Grafton ran placings later in the season in both the Ascot Vale Stakes and Champagne Stakes, before picking up the Easter Stakes at Randwick. Grasspan had resumed in the new season to narrowly win the Hopetoun Stakes (9f) at Rosehill, before finishing unplaced in the Hamden Stakes at the Tattersall’s meeting. Sir Leonard, a half-brother to the 1898 A.J.C. December Stakes winner, Lowland Chief, was bred by Henry White at Havilah, who gave him, together with £100, to Randwick trainer Leonard Cooper in exchange for the 1899 Epsom winner, Djin Djin. Sir Leonard had won twice as a two-year-old in twelve starts, firstly a minor juvenile handicap at Moorefield, and in June a nursery handicap at Rosehill with 9 st. 7lb; the colt had then been a surprise winner of the Tattersall’s Hamden Stakes upon resumption in the new season, although many doubted that he was up to carrying the Derby weight. Next in the market was Caravel, a homebred owned by Henry White whose only win in ten starts came in the Tattersall’s Stakes at the May meeting.
John See and Solitary shared the fourth line of Derby betting. John See, by the stallion Grafton, was a home-bred from the Belltrees Stud and was raced by the four youngest sons of Francis White, who had jointly taken over the stud in an estate restructure the year before the death of their uncle, James White. The horse took his name from the then Premier of New South Wales and the man who represented the town of Grafton in the Legislative Assembly. Sir John See also happened to be Sam Hordern junior’s father-in-law, the marriage having occurred just the year before; as well as being a former mayor of Randwick and owner of the lavish mansion, Urara, a prominent landmark in the district. Alas, the equine son of Grafton wasn’t to achieve a similar impact on the district’s racecourse.
Solitary, was a Victorian representative owned and trained by James Wilson junior. A big, strapping son of Strathmore, Solitary had been spared a rigorous juvenile season although he had run nice races in both the Mona Nursery and the Gwyn Nursery in good company. The colt had broken his maiden status over six furlongs upon resumption at Caulfield in the new season, and at his latest appearance finished third in a Three and Four-Year-Old Handicap at Flemington. The outsider of the field was The Maine, a younger half-sister of the 1899 Caulfield Cup winner, Dewey, and like him, bred and trained by Tom Payten. Although the winner of the Q.T.C. Claret Stakes at the Brisbane Cup meeting, it was understood that The Maine was in the field to ensure a genuine pace for her stablemate Grasspan.
The 1901 A.J.C. Derby field and race conditions appear in the table below:
Confident that he was riding the best young stayer in the field, the true running of the Derby played right into Bob Lewis’s hands. From the start, Sir Leonard, John See, and Caravel were the smartest away, with James Barden on the first-named, seemingly happy to make a madcap pace. Striding along, Sir Leonard passed the stand a length from the favourite and The Maine, who was clear of John See, Caravel and Grasspan with Solitary alone in the rear. Sir Leonard held his own going out of the straight and down along the side of the course until The Maine joined him at Oxenham’s. Distance hardly lent reason to proceedings. The further they went, the faster the pace.
The field was carried from the six to the four at a cracking tempo before Sir Leonard retired from the fray – it had not been one of Barden’s better rides – to be replaced by Caravel, who, with the fast-tiring filly, swept the final bend on level terms. Turning into the straight Lewis went forward on Hautvilliers, tracked by Grasspan, and when The Maine retreated – her pace-making duty fulfilled – the favourite issued his determined challenge. Just below the St. Leger stand Hautvilliers had Caravel’s measure and the son of Haut Brion came away to win the classic by a length-and-a-half with Grasspan, who finished well after momentarily being blocked for a run, a half-neck away in third place. The time, 2 minutes 37 ½ seconds, represented a new record for the race, clipping a half-second of Trident’s previous record set in 1886. Jockey Bob Lewis and trainer James Scobie had combined to win the A.J.C. classic in successive years emulating the achievements of Ernie Huxley and Tom Payten nine years earlier.
The victory was a significant achievement for Wilton Park, and while Samuel Hordern basked in the reflected glory, he was also saddened that Michael Power, the man who had selected Haut Brion and done so much to build up Wilton Park, hadn’t lived long enough to witness the achievement. Power had died suddenly in August 1900 at his residence at Wilton Park at the age of just forty-seven from the rupture of a blood vessel to the brain. However, even by the time of his death, it was clear that Haut Brion was going to have a significant influence on Australian bloodstock. Hautvilliers was a real Haut Brion from the ground up and was yet another example of a Derby winner showing all the quality and strength of his sire. Hautvilliers’ victory nonetheless did serve to focus attention not just on Haut Brion, but on the quality of the broodmares kept at Wilton Park.
Narara, the dam of Hautvilliers, was yet another daughter of Goldsbrough, and like so many of his other good producers, was cast in the same mould as the great sire himself, inheriting all of his strength and coarseness. Perhaps it was just as well, for Narara descended from one of those old colonial strains deemed unacceptable to the exacting standard required by the martinet keepers of the Australian Stud Book. The fly in the ointment was Narara’s maternal granddam, Decoy, a daughter of the imported Kelpie from the mare Dilemma, whose antecedents were lost in the mists of time. If Decoy’s blood was considered suspect, then indeed the very best means were adopted to kill or dilute her plebeian influence. After all, she was mated with the wonderful Yattendon to produce the filly Ethel, dam and granddam of Narara and Hautvilliers respectively.
Narara apart, Ethel also threw Brockleigh to Goldsbrough, and he won the 1893 Epsom at Randwick, among other good races. Unraced at two, Narara was active on the Turf for the next four seasons, winning four races in all including a mile welter at the Tattersall’s Club fixture. It was the hapless Richard Craven who acquired her as a broodmare and sent her to Haut Brion to be mated. The result, Hautvilliers, was her third foal. Unfortunately, the untimely death of the 53-year-old Craven in January 1899 and the subsequent sale of his horses saw Michael Power – acting on behalf of Samuel Hordern – buy Narara for 165 guineas – largely for the sake of the fine Haut Brion colt at her side. It was a sound purchase, particularly when one considers that the service fee to Haut Brion at the time was 50 guineas. As we have seen, the future Hautvilliers was then sold just twelve months later, for 430 guineas!
William Bailey had his long-sought winner of the A.J.C. Derby at last! It was a particularly sweet victory after the misfortune with Hautboy the previous year, but alas, the Victorian owner wasn’t at Randwick to witness the triumph, having foresworn attendance at courses other than Ballarat following upon the imbroglio over Coil’s victory in the New Stakes at Randwick in September 1896. Born in Wellington, Somerset, Bailey came to Victoria in 1849 at the age of twenty-two and started his new life as a station manager at Amphitheatre, in the Pyrenees district of central Victoria. Upon the discovery of gold in Bendigo he left for the goldfields and for a time worked a claim in Eaglehawk Gully. The foundation of his fortune came later at Ballarat with his share in the famous ‘Jeweller’s Shop’, a claim on the Canadian lead at Ballarat, the name of which indicated its extraordinary richness, the wash dirt being studded with gold. After a period spent store-keeping in Main Road, farming at Mount Rowan, and managing the Staffordshire Reef mine, Bailey became the manager for the Learmonth Brothers – Thomas and Somerville, well-known squatters with their remarkable Borrumbeet run. It was the Learmonth brothers who were renowned for producing the finest merino wool in the land and who constructed the famous Scottish baronial homestead, Ercildoune.
William Bailey’s connection with the Learmonth brothers was to give rise to one of the most famous cases in nineteenth-century Victorian legal annals, Learmonth Vs Bailey. The Learmonths owned what later became famous as the Mt Egerton mine, and it was the circumstances surrounding the sale of this mine to a party of Ballarat investors including racing identity Martin Loughlin, who later owned the Melbourne Cup winner, Sheet Anchor, that gave rise to the legal case. The Learmonth brothers, acting under the advice of William Bailey, sold the mine to Loughlin and his two partners for £13,500.
Soon after the transaction, the mine jumped in value dramatically in value and the Learmonths, staunch Presbyterians, considered that Bailey had deceived them with a view to benefiting the purchasers and himself. The cream of the Victorian legal fraternity gathered to represent the various parties to the case which dragged on from court to court in the finest traditions of Jarndyce vs Jarndyce. Bailey and friends won the case all along the line, although ultimately the plaintiffs did gain leave to appeal to the Privy Council. However, after some cooler counsel prevailed, they decided to negotiate with the defendants. In the end, the defendants agreed to forego all claims to costs estimated to be more than £26,000. Still, the result left Bailey and Loughlin on easy street while the entire cost of the episode to the Learmonths was around £50,000. Soon after the case had been resolved against them, the Learmonths left Australia to return to Britain, believing until their dying days, that they had been treated unjustly in the notorious proceedings.
William Bailey in conjunction with Martin Loughlin, afterwards purchased the Seven Hills Estate, and later on, bought the Terrinallum Estate in the Western District of Victoria; he also acquired a good deal of station property in New South Wales. Bailey’s racing colours were to become one of the most conspicuous at both Randwick and Flemington in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The first horse of note that he owned was the famous steeplechaser, Simpleton. Other good fencers followed in his wake including Lothair and Helmet, but Bailey’s first major success on the flat didn’t come until the 1879 Victoria Derby with Suwarrow. Although the horse ran in the nomination of his trainer, Robert Howie, Bailey did have an interest. The gold mining magnate didn’t mind what price he gave for a yearling, but he did yearn for a good weight-for-age horse although it took a while for one to come along.
After years of trying, Annesley, winner of the 1890 Caulfield Guineas, was the first high-class horse he had with James Scobie, who paid 625 guineas on behalf of Bailey for this brother to Newstead. However, shortly after this time, William Bailey became one of the confederates of the J. B. Clark syndicate and thus a partner in such cracks as Camoola, Stromboli, Autonomy, Donation, Trieste, Warpaint and Le Var. Notwithstanding the expensive successes of that syndicate, Bailey again later took to buying an occasional well-bred yearling in his own name. The likes of Coil, Cocos, Hautvilliers, Hauturier, Haut Boy, Hautain, Metford and Keera were his sole property, and that succession of names beginning with ‘Haut’ demonstrates the luck he enjoyed with the progeny of St Simon’s son. William Bailey was also partners with his old friend Robert Orr in Onward and Dreamland.
Dreamland was to be a particular source of frustration to Bailey. Having had the satisfaction of seeing this horse, an expensive half-brother to the Melbourne Cup winner, Mentor, win the 1893 Maribyrnong Plate, the son of Trenton later lost form spectacularly over a number of seasons and was eventually sold to Sir Rupert Clarke to be used as a stallion at Rupertswood. After a couple of years at stud, Dreamland was being hacked about Rupertswood one day by Clarke and gave such a feeling, that the baronet resolved to send the ten-year-old Dreamland back to Scobie to be a nomination for the Australian Cup. The V.R.C. handicapper, Mr Dakin, thought the horse such a back number that he let him into the race with the featherweight of 6 st. 12lb. Much to the chagrin of Messrs Bailey and Orr, Dreamland duly obliged. Notwithstanding the shenanigans of Dreamland, it must be said that few Australian owners have had the good fortune to own as many top-class gallopers as William Bailey did within the same decade. His trainers Tom Payten and James Scobie had carte blanche to buy one or two yearlings for him each autumn during the nineties. The only stipulation was that they had to be good. The price was irrelevant.
After Hautvilliers went overseas, Bailey only trained with James Scobie, and for the last few years of his life, Bailey rarely had more than one horse in training. Quiet, taciturn and given to occasional melancholy, he was a splendid sportsman to train for, leaving everything up to his trainers. He never grumbled when the inscrutable fates proved fickle as they did when Hauturier, trialled to be a good thing, broke down two days before the Melbourne Cup, or when Stockwell, an expensive brother to Malua, succumbed to inflammation of the kidneys. Bailey never forgot the debt that he owed to the city of Ballarat. An ardent member of the Ballarat Turf Club, he proved a most liberal patron to Dowling Forest, the grandest and most picturesque of all Victorian racecourses at the turn of the nineteenth century. In December 1876 when the club was suffering under the crippling effect of a £2,000 debt, Bailey, who had been elected a member of the club only the year before, cleared off the amount with a very generous loan. After a long and successful career on the Turf, William Bailey died in April 1906 at the age of 79 having caught a chill earlier that month.
Hautvilliers was backed up for The Metropolitan on the Monday after the Derby, one of a record number of thirty starters for the race that included the tearaway Epsom Handicap winner, Sequence. Despite a 3lb penalty, Hautvilliers was despatched as a 7/1 third favourite in the event and was fancied by the Scobie team, but ran unplaced behind the favourite, San Fran. Two days later Hautvilliers appreciated the weight-for-age conditions of the Craven Plate much better and proved what an outstanding colt he was by defeating San Fran, although the son of Gozo failed to secure a clear passage in the straight. Hautvilliers then went to Melbourne.
He finished only fourth behind Ibex in the Caulfield Guineas when sent to the post at odds-on on a rainswept and bitterly cold day, but the public supported him again as the favourite for the V.R.C. Derby, his final appearance in Australia. The Derby at Flemington proved somewhat eventful. The Payten stable was confident that Grasspan could take the race after his luckless passage in the classic at Randwick. The colt had won both the New Stakes and the Duff Memorial Stakes later at the A.J.C. Spring Meeting and had finished in front of Hautvilliers when third in the Guineas at Caulfield. As it turned out in the Derby finish at Flemington, Hautvilliers and Grasspan had the race to themselves. Although Hautvilliers won by a half-length, he had to survive a protest from Frank Kuhn, the rider of Grasspan, to keep the prize.
The protest excited quite a deal of comment on the course. The fact that interference occurred wasn’t in doubt, as Tom Payten was not the sort of man to lodge a frivolous protest against anyone, least of all William Bailey, with whom he had been a partner in horses and for whom he had trained the likes of Cocos, Coil and Hautain. Moreover, Payten and Scobie themselves were firm friends. Scobie wasn’t without support in keeping the race, and that from the most distinguished of parties, as he made clear in his book “My Life on the Australian Turf”: “When the protest was under consideration, Lady Hopetoun, the wife of the first Governor-General of Australia, showed her sympathy by coming up and declaring, ‘They will never take it away from you.’” The Countess of Hopetoun’s friendship with the trainer came about because of her love of hunting, which she shared with her husband. The vice-regal couple had imported a number of hunters with them from England when they came to Australia and frequently rode with the Ballarat Hunt, with which Jim Scobie was the Huntsman. On one occasion Lady Hopetoun’s mount had stuck up at the railway, in a meet at Ercildoune. Noticing what had happened, Scobie went back and gallantly exchanged mounts with the Governor’s lady. Scobie forced the recalcitrant animal over the fence, and Lady Hopetoun remained with him for the balance of the run. Her Ladyship’s judgement as to the likely outcome of the protest on Derby Day proved sound, and it was she who subsequently invested Hautvilliers with the blue riband.
Jim Scobie thus had the satisfaction of training the winners of both the A.J.C. and V.R.C. Derbies in successive years. Shortly after the Victoria Derby, Scobie sold Hautvilliers for 3000 guineas to an Argentinean breeder and the horse was shipped via Wellington on the Westralia in the company of J. F. Giblin, for eventual cross shipment on the Tongariro bound for Montevideo. The transaction showed the remarkable extent to which Scobie’s patrons invested complete confidence in their trainer. Scobie clinched the deal and only afterwards informed William Bailey of what he had done. When told of developments, Scobie related that Bailey’s response was: “Jim, you are no sport. The man who sells a Derby winner isn’t a sportsman.”
Scobie’s response was: “Never mind, you have got the money.” His reason for parting with the colt was his real doubt that the horse would stand much more racing. He was a heavy-topped animal, and Scobie doubted that the colt’s fore-joints could much longer withstand the amount of work necessary to keep him in trim. It was a problem that would recur over the years with the Haut Brion stock and eventually dulled some of the lustre surrounding the stallion’s reputation. When advised of the sale, the generous Bailey made a present of £300 to his loyal retainer. While Hautvilliers wasn’t a success in Argentina, Scobie took satisfaction from the fact that out of his first crop at stud three Hautvilliers youngsters realised 800 guineas each.
In the absence of Hautvilliers, the three-year-old classics in the autumn wore a different hue. Grasspan easily accounted for the V.R.C. St Leger, although it was a different story in the red riband at Randwick when he was sent out a firm favourite only to see Sir Leonard win the race rather easily from Bruntwood with Grasspan a rather ordinary third in a four-horse field. Just a few weeks later Grasspan was sold to W. N. Willis M.L.A. and shipped to South Africa. In truth, the quality of racehorses foaled in the 1898 season and those that contested the 1901 A.J.C. Derby, seem rather ordinary in retrospect. Arguably the best of the crop was Ibex who won the Caulfield Guineas after missing the A.J.C. Derby, and as a five-year-old added the Craven Plate to his list of honours. Ibex also proved more than useful at stud and amongst his good horses was the top sprinter Gigandra who, like Ibex, also carried William Mate’s distinguished colours.
For all the success of the sons and daughters of Haut Brion in Australia, the man responsible for bringing the stallion into the colony didn’t enjoy the pleasure of seeing his own colours carried by many of them. At the time of his importation, Samuel Hordern had enjoyed only mixed fortunes in his dalliance with the Turf despite racing on a fairly large scale. Soon after establishing the Wilton Park Stud, Samuel Hordern purchased a large plot of land in Botany Street, Randwick, running through to Wansey-road and proceeded to erect the most luxurious training quarters in the land. The main building comprised a coach house, feed and saddle rooms and a dozen lofty boxes. An extended verandah surfaced with tan, covered its whole length of 175 feet, and in inclement weather permitted walking of the horses. For racing colours, Hordern had acquired the famous ‘white, blue spots’ of Charles Fisher and there seemed every probability at the time of him becoming the leading owner in Australia.
He had untold wealth behind him, and rich men known to race without betting had often made themselves extremely popular by racing horses practically for the benefit of the public. Initially, people thought that Samuel Hordern would not bet – but he did so, albeit not on a large scale – but a section of the Sydney sporting public didn’t take to him as a leading owner. There were two unruly scenes at Randwick in connection with Samuel Hordern’s horses. For the first, there was no justification whatever, the occasion being the booing when The Skipper won The Metropolitan in 1896. The public on that occasion objected to the fact that the horse had been scratched from the Hawkesbury Handicap after being taken to the course on the day of the race. Earnshaw considered the course too hard for The Skipper to do himself justice and might even sustain an injury but hadn’t been able to contact the owner until shortly before the race. After much public pre-post betting in the days when such bets were forfeited, such a late withdrawal caused understandable, if unjustified chagrin. However, in the second distasteful scene involving the Hordern colours, the Gunbearer case at the 1898 Easter meeting, A.J.C. stewards to so some extent justified the outcry.
Gunbearer was despatched as the favourite in the First Nursery on Sydney Cup Day ridden by an unfashionable stable boy of Earnshaw’s, who gave the horse a most clumsy ride. Later it was said that the jockey in question, Cleal, broke a stirrup leather, thereby explaining the showing, but this excuse wasn’t forthcoming when the original inquiry took place. When another of Hordern’s horses, Miss West, won at an outside price on the last day of the meeting, another distasteful demonstration occurred – fuelled by alcohol and frustration over the Gunbearer case. The entire opprobrium over the suspicious running of Gunbearer descended upon Cleal’s head, and the jockey was then disqualified for six months.
Although A.J.C. stewards exonerated Hordern and Earnshaw from any complicity, the imbroglio was enough to convince Samuel Hordern to have no more to do with the Turf other than as a breeder. He promptly disposed of all his horses in training in May 1898 and resolved never to revisit Randwick. Hordern sold Gunbearer with a proviso that he was to go west and not run in N.S.W. or Victoria ever again. The horse had little ability as Earnshaw well knew, and subsequent events proved him right. Vivian, a son of Abercorn that had won the 1896 Villiers Stakes at Randwick for Hordern, at 600 guineas, was the highest priced of the lots sold. Alas for Hordern, who had so desperately wanted his colours carried to victory in a classic, one of the horses knocked down that day was a rising three-year-old son of Nordenfeldt named Johansen. Bought for 320 guineas by William Noake of Pitt-street, the colt won the A.J.C. St Leger a year later.
When he first went into racing, F. W. (Fred) Day trained for Hordern and won the 1893 Sydney Cup for him with Realm, a Queensland-bred horse that was already a tried performer when Hordern bought him for 900 guineas plus a £100 contingency from the Queensland sportsman, Captain Sandeman. It was Day who selected the first lot of English mares that went to Wilton Park, and when in 1894 he returned to England to train at Newmarket, he continued to act as a sometime bloodstock agent for Samuel Hordern when he sought additional English horses. I might mention that before training for Hordern in Australia, Day had prepared horses for the Governor of N.S.W., Lord Carrington. Day’s Australian connection continued even after he hung out his shingle at Newmarket, for among other horses, he trained Airs and Graces when she won the 1898 English Oaks for the Australian sportsman W. T. Jones. Among his other Australian patrons who raced horses in England were Henry White, Humphrey Oxenham and Pat Osborne. Reginald Day, Fred’s son, was later to become a successful trainer in his own right in England, preparing Solario to win the 1925 English St Leger among other good races, and the 1961 One Thousand Guineas and Oaks double heroine, Sweet Solera.
Day’s return to England saw Ike Earnshaw appointed as Samuel Hordern’s private trainer. The closest Hordern came to winning the Derby at Randwick was when Toreador dead-heated for third behind Bob Ray in the 1895 race. In the late 1890s with the importation of Haut Brion, and his emergence as the exciting young stallion in the colony, Samuel Hordern concentrated exclusively on his breeding ventures instead, and a large number of the classics and major handicaps fell to horses that were bred by him at the Wilton Park estate. Apart from Hautvilliers, these included the likes of Sweet Nell, Istria, Collarit and Hautboy. The year 1901 held mixed fortunes for Samuel Hordern, for although September saw him basking in reflected glory as a Derby-winning breeder, just three months before Samuel had witnessed a fire that had effectively destroyed the Haymarket building housing his grand emporium. Again, showing the flair and initiative that had seen the business flourish, Samuel Hordern leased the Exhibition building, and it was “business as usual” the very next day. It wasn’t until 1905 that he opened the impressive new Italianate building on Brickfield Hill; and under his shrewd stewardship, the company continued to expand, eventually employing almost 4,000 people.
It was unfortunate for Hordern that the majority of the Haut Brion stock became top-heavy and prone to breaking down on the hard-Australian racetracks; it is no accident that the best of his stock were at their best as two and three-year-olds. Indeed, Sweet Nell was the only one of his progeny to win a high-class weight-for-age race beyond her three-year-old days. Nonetheless, Haut Brion did go on to sire 19 individual winners of 34 principal races. Haut Brion remained at Wilton Park until the end of Samuel Hordern’s life. The merchant prince of Sydney retailing having suffered for some time in bad health, died at the age of sixty in August 1909 at his residence Retford Hall in Darling Point, bequeathing an estate valued at a staggering £2,925,925. Leaving a family of eight including four sons, as we shall see, a significant part of this legacy helped his eldest son, also christened Samuel, to succeed in the A.J.C. Derby as an owner, where his father had failed.
In April 1910, the Executors of the estate dispersed much of the Hordern bloodstock. Thirty-one broodmares went, many of which had represented the essence of the stud down through the years including Jersey Lily (200 guineas), Fearnought (270 guineas), Trieste (330 guineas), Novelette II (400 guineas), and all with foals-at-foot by Haut Brion. Haut Brion was knocked down to W. B. And C. L. Thompson for 525 guineas while the year-older Gossoon went for a derisory 60 guineas. The balance of the broodmares and yearlings was sold out the following year. Haut Brion never sired another principal race winner once he left the pastures of Wilton Park. Subsequently, the Thompson brothers sold the old horse to a certain Mr Dunne, who maintained a small stud at West Kempsey, and it was there that Haut Brion died suddenly in late February 1914, when, being led at exercise, he reared up and suddenly collapsed.
Whereas Bill of Portland was the pioneer of the St Simon line in Australia and left a number of sons behind that, in turn, became good stallions – Maltster being the supreme example, although there were others such as Bobadil, Merriwee and Finland – Haut Brion’s sons largely disappeared. It didn’t help, of course, that a number of them were gelded because of their propensity to grossness, but of those that did remain uncut and served in the breeding barn, none had any lasting influence. Nor was he much more successful as a sire of broodmares although one of his daughters, Wilari, did produce a Victoria Derby winner.