Horseracing, it has often been said, is the great leveller. As history bears witness, regardless of money or bloodlines, winning Derbies is not a birthright. A battler with the right horse in the right place at the right time can sometimes play the bluebloods at their own game. I’m reminded of this truth when I look back on the running of the 1947 A.J.C. Derby. Amongst other things, it is the story of two men each from a quite different background and class who became, or rather were raised to become, racehorse trainers. One, born with all the advantages of wealth and privilege, was to establish himself as Sydney’s leading trainer in those years before, during, and just after World War II. And yet from countless entries, he had never won the A.J.C. Derby and 1947 would be his last throw of the dice. The other, raised on the struggle street associated with the notorious world of 14.2-hand ponies, was to remain a journeyman trainer all his life. And yet with this, his first throw of the dice, he would claim the 1947 A.J.C. Derby prize. The two men were Bayly Payten and Alf Doyle.
Bayly William Renwick Payten was born at Newmarket on 12 February 1896, the third son in this distinguished family. Along with his four brothers and three sisters, all spent idyllic childhoods in the hallowed grounds of Newmarket and the greater Randwick. Horses were in their blood. Bayly, despite the different spelling, was named after Tom Payten’s old friend and client, William Bailey, one of the original members of the J. B. Clark syndicate and owner of the 1901 A.J.C. Derby winner, Hautvilliers. The derivation of Bayly’s first name explains why so many journalists for so many years spelt the name incorrectly as ‘Bailey’. At the age of two Bayly was regularly rocked to sleep in a basket tied to the back of a horse. By the age of three, he was riding a pony. A grainy picture survives of his first visit to Randwick racecourse with his father at the age of eight. And when it came to schooling, not for him the dull confines of Cleveland Street Public or Surry Hills South. Old Tom Payten could afford to send all the boys as boarders to St Ignatius College, Riverview, on the Lane Cover River and he did so.
The school was first established in 1880 and offered a Catholic education in a sectarian Sydney and it is here that we find a young Bayly, during the rectorship of the Very Reverend T. Gartlan, distinguishing himself in Latin composition, debating, and writing grammar. While never keen on rowing, he still participated in that sport, although perhaps the arts appealed more as we find him described as a really handsome daughter of the Major-General in a 1912 production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Pirates of Penzance’. The school motto of St Ignatius was ‘Quantum Poles Tantum Aude’ (Dare as much as you can, for God and for Man), or more simply translated in Bayly’s day to ‘Dare to do your Best’. It was a philosophy the boy when a man would bring to all his days as a racehorse trainer.
After Bayly turned eighteen and finished school at St Ignatius in 1914, he used to supervise the feeding and the management of the yearlings stabled at Newmarket, getting them ready for sale through William Inglis and Son. However, that all ended in 1918 when old Tom Payten, in poor health and having had a disagreement with John Inglis, opted to sell the whole Newmarket estate to the bloodstock and livestock auctioneers.
It was practically decided that Bayly should go and take over the family property Alfalfa at Canowindra, and establish himself there as a grazier. Old Tom had bought the property back at the turn of the century, and it together with a more recently purchased fifteen hundred acres at Eugowra in the Lachlan district, needed management. However, before the decision was final, it was determined that with old Tom taking a team of racehorses to Melbourne, Bayly should remain at home a few weeks longer to assist his older brother Tom Jr in the training of those gallopers left at Newmarket. Upon their father’s return, it became evident that Bayly was the son with the real aptitude for training racehorses. Instead, it was Tom Jr and Leo who were destined for Alfalfa and Killarney in the roles of pastoralists cum graziers. During the year 1920, old Tom Payten’s health continued to deteriorate and Harry Rayner, a long-time friend of the family whose establishment was close by, virtually came out of retirement to assist Bayly in the preparation of the Payten team of horses.
It was on the fourth day of the Randwick Spring Meeting in 1920 – Bayly’s first in charge of the Botany-street stables albeit without his own licence and under Rayner’s nomination – that Bayly trained his first ‘unofficial’ winner. The horse was Poppyland owned by J. J. Garvan and the race was the Canonbury Stakes. The stable scored a double when Ecarte, Pat Osborne’s stayer, stepped out and won the very next race on the card – the Waverley Handicap. Ecarte was very much the stable hope that spring and only a few days before the four-year-old had finished a sound second to Pershore in the A.J.C. Metropolitan. Payten, father and son, both believed the horse was a great chance in the Melbourne Cup that year with just 7 st. 2lb but Ecarte seemed gone in the wind by the time he got to Melbourne and the best he could do in the Cup was to finish seventh. Old Tom was informed of the result and three days later the grand old man of racing breathed his last while Bayly was still in the southern capital.
When Tom Payten died at his Randwick residence of ‘Cambooya’ in Arthur-street on that Friday afternoon, November 5, 1920, it wasn’t altogether a surprise. The 65-year-old trainer had been ill for some considerable time suffering from heart trouble and had been admitted to Lewisham Hospital just six weeks before. In many respects, he never got over the death of his beloved wife, Jean, five years earlier. Not only the racing world of Australia but the general public and particularly the Randwick parish mourned his passing. On the morning of his death, he attended Mass and received Holy Communion. After making a number of business calls in the city, he returned home and in the afternoon passed peacefully away. He left five sons and three daughters and an estate valued for probate at £23,284 – testimony enough to his business skills and the success of his professional life!
While he gave his daughters, Lorna, Doris and Jean as tenants-in-common, his house ‘Cambooya’, he authorised his three oldest sons, Leo, Tom and Bayly, to purchase whether at public auction or by private contract, all or any part of his real and personal estate. They also managed affairs on behalf of their younger brothers, Joseph and Jack, who, when they matured into manhood, were each eventually established on country properties at Cowra and Forbes. There was never any doubt that Bayly would take over the Botany-street stables but at the time, he wasn’t licenced to train at Randwick. Indeed, for the last few months of old Tom’s life, Henry Rayner, whose establishment was close by, had virtually come out of retirement to assist young Bayly in the stables.
It wasn’t until the beginning of the 1921-22 racing season that Bayly, at the age of just twenty-five, became licenced as a No. 1 trainer by the Australian Jockey Club. It is interesting to recall the other three trainers who were newcomers to the No. 1 list on that same intake viz. Dan Lewis, Neil McKenna and Dan Swanson. There were forty-nine trainers licenced for Randwick that season and Bayly was the youngest of them all. Well-educated, well-connected and wealthy, the well-dressed young man became Sydney’s gentleman trainer to gentlemen. He retained his father’s famous racing colours of ‘black, white sleeves, pale blue cap’ as his own.
After selling Newmarket to William Inglis and Son at the end of World War I, old Thomas Payten had shifted some five hundred yards away to build the well-known stables in Botany-street, which Bayly now took over. The enterprise was a cluster of sheds, sandpits, and yards centring around the stables proper, which were a chain of horse boxes turned on itself to make a three-sided square. In time, it was to become a showplace training property. A high brick wall surrounded the entire stable and courtyard, with its smooth, neatly clipped lawn and stunning floral displays. It was indeed, an immaculate conception. From the lawn in the middle, Payten could see sixteen separate boxes floored with straw. It was the busiest training establishment in Sydney and the one patronised by the wealthiest and most prestigious of clients. Some of those owners on the Payten books at the moment of Bayly’s accession included the chairman of the A.J.C., Colin Stephen, committeeman Pat Osborne, the Hon. Agar Wynne, J. J. Garvan and Hunter White. This was heady stuff for a twenty-five-year-old single man with no demonstrable proof of his abilities, save the six years’ association as the stable foreman to his father.
Yet few people doubted that Bayly would make the grade. Horses were his life and the discipline inculcated during his years at St Ignatius College would always stand him in good stead. A non-smoker who drank only beer, he played neither golf nor tennis although he could play a reasonable game of cricket as he once famously demonstrated on the occasion of the match between Randwick and Rosehill trainers in November 1930. Nonetheless, to all intents and purposes, it seems fair to say that he had no hobbies except, perhaps, riding his unnamed hack about the environs of Randwick and Coogee. In a very real sense, it was remarkable that in those early days of training, Bayly was never crushed by the weight of his own sire’s overpowering celebrity in the very same, very public vocation.
Despite, or perhaps because of the 55-year age gap, Bayly Payten and Harry Rayner worked successfully together as the young man gradually found his feet during that 1921-22 racing season and proved that he could run the business alone. Old Harry was a long-time friend of the entire Payten family and the octogenarian kept a paternal eye on the tyro as he set out to climb the training ranks. In those days of small teams, few Sydney licenced trainers enjoyed the privilege of having runners in the A.J.C. Breeders’ Plate, Gimcrack Stakes and Metropolitan Handicap at their very first Randwick Spring Meeting but such was the case with Bayly and his respective horses Dighton, Wolverine and Ecarte at the 1921 gathering. As it transpired, only Wolverine, who raced in the colours of Colin Stephen, was placed.
It wasn’t until early January 1922 that Bayly won his first race as a fully licensed trainer when Thoughtful, owned by Pat Osborne, won a maiden handicap at Menangle Park. However, by the end of that season, Payten had won 8 races and finished with 23 minor placings for £3,618 which saw him finish tenth on the metropolitan winning trainers’ list. William Booth training out of Rosehill won the title again that year with 21 wins and £12,835 in stakes. Top of the metropolitan winning jockeys’ list was a 17-year-old Newcastle apprentice by the name of William Raphael Johnstone. I might add that it wasn’t the A.J.C. that maintained an honour roll of trainers’ or jockeys’ premierships in those days.
Rather, it was newspapers such as ‘The Referee’, and metropolitan race meetings were then defined as those held at Randwick, Rosehill, Hawkesbury, Canterbury Park, Moorefield and Warwick Farm. Bayly Payten was lucky in many respects with his distinguished owners but one aspect of their characters looms large. They were not men who sought to execute clever betting coups i.e. aiming to mislead the books and the public alike and who let races pass them by while waiting to land some grand coup or other. Having a free hand to go for every race, whether the chances looked promising or not, Payten put together a nice list of wins in that first full season with horses like Wolverine, Thoughtful, Wirneath and Poppyland. It was a similar story of progress in the following season of 1922-23 when Payten finished fourth on the metropolitan trainers’ list when he sent out 6 different winners of 11 races and £3,207 in stakes.
Slowly he was finding his feet. Again his winners were on behalf of Messrs. Stephen, Osborne and Garvin with the likes of Vieta, Parvenu, Battleaxe, Dighton and Ararat. That was the season that the Rajah of Rosehill (aka William Booth) famously dominated the ranks winning 31 races with 17 different horses to collect £22,059 in stakes, including the A.J.C. Doncaster Handicap and Sydney Cup double with The Epicure and David. It was a telling difference as to just how far Payten would have to progress to claim the title of the leading trainer. In his third full season of training in 1923-24, Bayly slipped down the list to finish twelfth with only 8 wins to his credit behind the all-conquering Billy Booth again whose 25 wins included another Sydney Cup with Scarlet and the A.J.C. Spring Stakes with David. However, the highlight of that season for Bayly was training a double on the last day of the A.J.C. Spring Meeting with Comptroller and Dighton in the Waverley and Final Handicaps respectively.
It was a trick that Payten repeated on the same day the following year – the day of Ballymena’s fatal accident in the Randwick Plate – when he won the first and last races on the card viz. the Canonbury Stakes with Yule Cake for Maud Osborne and the Final Handicap with Virgin Gold for her husband. I don’t mean to suggest that the Payten stable wasn’t a betting stable – to some extent all stables were – but unlike many, it wasn’t a sine qua non for the stable’s existence. Mention of Virgin Gold brings to mind a very successful plunge that Bayly Payten pulled off with that imported galloper in the 1924 A.J.C. Liverpool Handicap.
An English horse brought to Australia by the Queensland sportsman, J. S. Love, Virgin Gold had cost a thousand guineas but must have taken the best part of £20,000 out of the ring that day. A bit of 33/1 was available early although the stable commission started to go on at 20/1. The demand was so insistent that by the end of betting, Virgin Gold was into 5/1 and it was difficult to get on even at that price. Ted Bartle rode the horse that day and it was one of those ‘money’ rides that burnished that jockey’s reputation for coolness under pressure. It was after that Liverpool Handicap that Pat Osborne bought the horse, having lost the services of his own stayer, Dighton. Osborne paid Love and his partner 2500 guineas for Virgin Gold, plus 500 guineas more out of the first win, which came in the A.J.C. Final Handicap about a week later. Down through the years, A.J.C. committeemen have always liked their horses to win at Randwick on the big days, and they’ve liked to back them when they do. Payten was on his way.
The year 1924 marked an even more significant milestone for Bayly Payten when he married the love of his life, 26-year-old Dorothy Tier. Two years younger and originally from Cobar, Dorothy settled into the role of loving and supportive wife and mother with a happy family that in due course would include two daughters, Margaret and Dorothy, born some two years apart. The significance of Bayly’s close-knit, loving family in his rise to success cannot be overestimated. And like his own father before him, he gave his two daughters every educational opportunity by sending both to Kincoppal. It was soon after his marriage that another significant female entered Bayly’s life, this time in the shape of a bonny bay filly by the all-conquering stallion Valais. Put up for auction as a yearling at the 1924 Sydney sales, she was out of the moderate race mare Courante, a daughter of Maltster, originally raced by J. W. Cook.
As a yearling, Valicare was only a lightly-built little thing and did not look to many as if she would have the scope and stride to make a race mare. But Bayly’s main client, Pat Osborne, took a fancy to her and bid for her as though money itself had no meaning. After a bidding duel with John Garvan, yet another client of Bayly’s, the filly was knocked down to Osborne at 1700 guineas and the critics sat back in their seats fully convinced that another rich man had just done his money. Neither Bayly Payten nor Pat Osborne could ever have imagined the influence this filly would come to have on their respective training and owning careers. I might add that John Garvan must have felt badly done by when he reflected on those sales in later life. Not only did he finish the underbidder on Valicare, but he had been put off another Valais yearling at those same sales because the colt in question had a bruised and enlarged knee. It might only have been the result of a harmless knock against his feed trough but it was enough to deter Garvan. That colt was later sold and registered as Manfred.
Unraced at two, Valicare won all of her seven starts at three including the A.J.C. Adrian Knox Stakes by five lengths; the R.R.C. Rawson Stakes by eight lengths; and the A.J.C. Doncaster by just a length-and-a-half but with 8 st. 9lb in the saddle. Thanks largely to that string of victories, and the efforts of Quixotic, an Absurd colt raced by Pat Osborne’s wife which won the 1926 A.J.C. Challenge Stakes among other races, Payten finished ninth in the Sydney trainers’ premiership that season with 11 wins and £13,672 in stakes. To the end of his days, Bayly Payten freely acknowledged Valicare as the best racehorse he ever trained. Sadly, Valicare was never the same after her three-year-old season despite a relaxing spell at the Payten brothers’ stud farm at Canowindra under the supervision of Leo. Although she ran a series of placings in high-class races at four, she only won two more races viz. the Hill Stakes at Rosehill and the C. M. Lloyd Stakes at Flemington. After finishing unplaced behind Limerick in the 1927 A.J.C. Warwick Stakes – her only start at five, Valicare went to stud. Her complete racing record was 18 starts; 9 wins; 3 seconds; 2 thirds; and £12,279.
However, Valicare’s bounty to her trainer Bayly Payten and her owner Pat Osborne didn’t end there. Valicare would be the first of those distinguished race mares trained by Payten whose progeny would keep on giving. Care Free, her first foal to Magpie and dropped in 1929, would win 5 races including the A.J.C. June Stakes and the V.R.C. Cantala Stakes. Her second foal, The Raider by Night Raid, would win the A.J.C. Rouse Handicap. However, it was her third foal, Siren by Salmagundi, that would prove the best of the lot when in that magnificent Melbourne spring of 1936 she would win the fillies’ treble of the V.R.C. Edward Manifold Stakes, the Wakeful Stakes and the Oaks Stakes. A particularly fast filly, with Munro aboard, Siren made all of the running in the Wakeful Stakes and much of the running in the Oaks.
The foundation of the Osborne fortunes was laid when three brothers came out from the north of Ireland, where the family had been dealers in stock for generations. They bought cattle, horses and – whisper it softly – they even bought pigs. They were gentlemen farmers and knew most of what there is to be known about any class of livestock. Fortified with this knowledge, the brothers landed in Australia with a goodly sum of capital, and in those days any man producing £1,000 could get a free grant of a thousand acres. There was land to burn here – so to speak – and all that was required of a new settler was to show the colour of his money, and thus prove that he had the capital to work his property. The Osborne brothers all got big grants of land, and the grants that they took up included a lot of the richest coal mines on the south coast of N.S.W. No wonder the family had money!
Now, there is a proverb that it only takes two generations to go from shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves, meaning that the grandson of a moneymaker is apt “to blow the lot,” and wind up without a shilling. That has been true of a great many families but it wasn’t true in the case of Patrick H. Osborne. He never blew his money, on or off the racecourse, but added to it with station properties, investments, and, yes, even bloodstock, which is generally a sure trap for a rich man’s money. A fair amateur rider in his younger days, and always with a racehorse or two in training, Pat made his first lucky purchase when he acquired Ecarte, a horse that in anybody else’s hands would have been a dead loss, for as we have seen, he turned roarer after racing for a season or two. Then he was put over hurdles and shaped so badly in a schooling gallop that the talent was prepared to bet that he would never win a hurdle race. When the horse was later started at Randwick he confounded the critics by jumping like a stag and winning on the bit. At the 1922 V.R.C. Spring Meeting Ecarte won the Cup Day Hurdle over two miles, although it proved to be his last race as he broke down during the running and virtually finished on three legs.
It was soon after Ecarte had made his mark over fences that Pat Osborne decided to jump a fence of his own and stand for the vacancy on the A.J.C. committee in January 1925 following upon the death of E. A. Merewether. The successful breeder John McDonald nominated him, and James Barnes the popular chairman of Tattersall’s Club, seconded him. Now, in those days at least, to qualify as a starter for the A.J.C. Committee Stakes a man had to be able to stand a good deal of scrutiny. He must have done a fair bit of racing and must have come out of it with a clean reputation. He must also have done enough betting to be able to tell the main sheet from the jib halliards when any betting question came up. At the same time, he should never have been mixed up betting heavily on other people’s horses; or taking on battler’s broncos that have been ‘dead’ for months, and then backing them off the map. This addiction to promiscuous punting, of being hail fellow well met, or associating in business with some of the worst characters in the world, had kept quite a lot of men off the committee in the past.
There was a lot of prestige about the position of an A.J.C. committeeman in those years that is altogether absent in more modern times. Osborne qualified on all counts and in a heavy poll, he easily defeated his other rivals, A. P. Bowman and J. Hardie. There are a number of instances in the history of the club when ownership of a champion racehorse has helped lift the profile of a candidate for the A.J.C. committee to electoral success. Some of them have been mentioned in this chronicle. Osborne, however, is not a case in point although he did own Valicare at the time of the ballot. The only problem was that at that stage the great mare had never started in a race.
It was during Valicare’s last calendar year on the racecourse that another young champion came into Bayly’s orbit, but this one was only all too human. From the time he began riding work, the youthful Darby Munro had attracted the attention of Randwick trainers, who were not slow to avail themselves of his services. Long before he became apprenticed to his brother J. F. Munro, a rosy future beckoned. And Bayly Payten was there at the very beginning. Bayly had long employed Darby’s older brother Jimmy, who had partnered Valicare in her greatest victories. Darby was granted permission to ride in races for the first time in March 1927 and he scored his first winner and double at Warwick Farm two months’ later on the first Saturday in May.
George Price, who could recognise riding talent when he saw it, supplied Darby with his first winner that day with Release, and by a remarkable coincidence, the pair beat Quixotic ridden by brother Jimmy and trained by Bayly, a head in the Prospect Handicap. Three races later on the same card, Darby partnered Spring Days, owned by Mrs V. S. Hordern and also trained by Bayly, to victory in the May Handicap as the 5/2 favourite. It might only have been a race confined to apprentices who hadn’t piloted ten winners, but, to quote Rick Blaine, “it was to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship”. Even though Valicare didn’t come up to expectations in that 1926-27 season, that win by Spring Days together with a succession of victories from Grosvenor and Triplex, each carrying the Osborne all-green, saw Bayly finish third in the Sydney Winning Trainers’ List with 19 outright wins and 2 dead-heats for £9,144 in stakes.
Bill Kelso, who won the title that year, wasn’t that far ahead of him with 24 outright wins and 4 dead-heats. Mention of Grosvenor and Triplex reminds me of a couple of stories. In life, both off and on the racecourse, it is better to be born lucky than rich, and better still to be born both lucky and rich. The most envied man on the Australian Turf that season was Pat Osborne. The year previous to the purchase of Valicare, a big ungainly chestnut yearling by Eaton Lad, from Blackacre came into the ring, and in his usual slap-dash fashion, P. H. Osborne was determined to buy him. He had to go to 700 guineas to get him, which most people reckoned about double his value. When asked why he had bought this awkward-looking customer, Osborne said: “I bought him to win the £2,000 hurdle race. He is bred to jump, and I’ll give him a lot of time, and you’ll see, I’ll win the big hurdle race with him.” Four years later with Payten putting the polish on him, Grosvenor won the A.J.C. Two Thousand Pounds Hurdle Race on the bit. And three years after that, he won it again. Now, what are the odds about a thing like that coming off? About a million to one, but then anything is possible to a rich man whose luck is in!
It wasn’t until the year 1929 that Payten had his first starters in the A.J.C. Derby when he prepared both Lorason and Cathmar for Hunter White and his wife, although it was a hopeless quest with Phar Lap in the field. Next came Erragon and Pretzel in the 1931 renewal of the race, the former owned by Hunter White and the latter by Bayly and his brother Leo, but neither horse proved up to running into a place behind Ammon Ra. Not that Pretzel proved a failure on the racecourse. In 1932 the A.J.C. Summer Cup proved a soft snap for Pretzel and in the following year, he won the V.R.C. Hotham Handicap. The day that Pretzel won the Hotham, Carefree won the V.R.C. Cantala Stakes, giving Bayly his first double at Flemington. I might mention here that for many years Payten had an arrangement with the Melbourne trainer Elwood Fisher that when, Payten, raced horses in Melbourne they would be stabled at Fisher’s and vice versa when Fisher raced horses in Sydney.
It was in 1935 that Payten, on newspaper form at least, appeared to have his best A.J.C. Derby prospect with Hadrian owned by Colin Stephen. This colt by Tippler won both the Hobartville Stakes and Canterbury Guineas very easily and then merely fell in to win the Rosehill Guineas by a neck from Allunga after establishing a good lead early in the race. Payten knew that Hadrian would hit a wall if asked to extend his speed to the stamina required of the Derby trip and had no hesitation scratching the colt from the race that was ultimately shared by Allunga and Homer. Sadly, Hadrian later injured a suspensory ligament which ultimately saw him retire from the racecourse without ever realising his full potential.
The next A.J.C. Derby entrant saddled up by Bayly Payten came along in 1937 with Highborn owned by the famous wool magnate and industrialist, F. W. Hughes. As we discovered in the 1937 chapter of our chronicle, Hughes paid good money for Highborn only a matter of days before the A.J.C. Derby that year, just to have a runner in the race and at that early stage of Hughes’ involvement in racing, Bayly Payten was his trainer of choice. Now, not all of Payten’s clients were as personable, accommodating and loyal as Pat Osborne or Colin Stephen and Hughes is a case in point. Such was to be the impact on the Australian Turf of this wealthy and influential man who came to racing so relatively late in life, that an entire chapter and more of this narrative could be devoted to him. But it is more the haunting question of “What might have been?” had the relationship between Hughes and Payten gone more smoothly, that intrigues me. And so forgive me but I’m about to head off on a tangent!
Frederick William Hughes was born in Brisbane in 1869 the third son of Henry Hughes, a butcher who had taken his family to Queensland for a short holiday to visit relatives. One of nine children, he was reared in Parramatta where his father had a butcher’s shop on George Street. In his teenage years, Fred used to keep the shop’s books for his father while attending Sydney Boys’ High School and during school holidays spent time milking cows on farms on the South Coast owned by relations. However, sheep rather than cows were to be at the heart of Hughes’ life. At the age of eighteen, he began working as an assistant wool valuer with the Sydney firm of Thomas Geddes and Company, wool scourers of Harris Street and soon graduated through wool sales to control the firm’s scouring. It was around 1895 that Hughes bought out Geddes and became the sole proprietor of Buckland Mills, Waterloo. He even served as an alderman on the Waterloo council for two years in order to promote his own business and influence legislation. Hughes eventually renamed his company the Sydney Wool Scouring Works and moved it to the Mill Pond area of Botany.
As a young lad, Hughes had seen steamships come out to Australia and load up with bales of wool that contained large portions of burr and dirt. The wool would then have to be cleaned and manufactured in England. Hughes believed that much of that work should have been done in Australia resulting in savings on cargo space and higher returns for the Australian wool clip. Hence Hughes’s determination in his business to scour, dry and re-bale the wool here and thereby convert the raw fibres into combed wool. Hughes was a remarkable man, a visionary as opposed to a dreamer, and his whole life story was to be a romance of Australian pioneering in the wool industry. He expanded his Botany operations in 1908 to include wool combing and in 1915, as World War I heightened the demand for processed wool, he incorporated all of his operations under the registration of F. W. Hughes Pty Ltd. When overseas markets started to dwindle in the years after the war as foreign governments slapped extra import duties on wool tops, Hughes established the Alexandria Spinning Mills in 1924 and the ‘Sunglo’ brand was launched. The Botany site eventually extended over some thirteen acres.
It was in September 1898 as his business began to burgeon that Fred Hughes married a widow, Matilda Morris, at St Phillip’s Anglican Church in Sydney. Sadly, it was to be a marriage that was to prove childless and end in tragic circumstances when Matilda died at sea in 1932. An independent woman in her own right, Matilda left an estate of £44,450. Hughes threw himself into his work even more passionately after the death of his wife and socially became something of a recluse. He remained a man of mystery even to his closest colleagues. Hughes was well advanced in years when he went into racing after his doctor recommended some leisure pursuit that would serve as a distraction from his vast commercial interests. Enigmatic and reserved, Hughes rarely granted interviews but occasionally the mask would slip. Explaining his entry into racing he observed:
“I had no family of my own. My entire life was centred on my business concerns. It was a case of work, and more work, day and night. I was finding it too strenuous. I had no hobby and felt I needed one, but racing as a distraction from long office hours was not in my mind when I visited a Sydney racecourse one Saturday afternoon. I went for relaxation, for some fresh air. I had always liked horses and formerly rode as a member of a hunt club, and that Saturday afternoon’s outing revived my interest in them. I felt I would like to own a horse of my own. I purchased one and somehow or other I have kept enlarging my team.”
While he had never shown any interest in racing before, his brother, Dick, had been a prominent jockey in the old pony days. Fred himself was physically small and light and could have ridden many of his own starters. Prior to the purchase of Highborn, Hughes had been a liberal buyer at the 1937 William Inglis Sales and had only recently paid a large sum for the New Zealand horse Rival Hit. In the beginning, Bayly Payten received all Hughes’ horses. Hughes held a high opinion of Payten at the time and he met up with him each week in his own flat located above his company’s general office in Botany to discuss the plans for his various racehorses. Among the yearlings purchased by F. W. Hughes at the 1937 Sydney yearling sales was Kooba, a brown colt by Veilmond with whom he won the 1937 A.J.C. Kirkham Stakes when he beat Pandava into third place. For a while, Payten considered that Kooba might be a Derby prospect but an injury put paid to those dreams. At the same sales in the following year, Payten bought Dashing Cavalier, a bay by Constant Son, on behalf of Hughes.
F. W. Hughes wasn’t a man to do anything by halves. If a job was worth doing, it was worth doing well. Work had always been his play, so nobody should have been the least surprised that, when it came to racing, his play soon became his work. Within two years of his first purchase, Hughes owned over eighty horses and had founded a modern all-Australian stud comprising three stallions and fifty-three broodmares on 750 acres of his 120,000-acre property, Kooba, in Whitton, N.S.W. The stud surrounded the homestead while no fewer than 200,000 sheep ran about the rest of the property, which was the largest pastoral irrigation estate in Australia. Hughes had even established a small farm on his industrial land at Botany where he grew all the greenstuff necessary for his horses in work. By the autumn of 1939, several of his horses had carried his colours to success including Highborn, Moaveil, Manamah, Good Morning, Rival Chief, Veiltrim, Rival Hit, Bonsion, Haze, Dashing Cavalier and Kooba. Perhaps Payten’s most notable accomplishment for Hughes during this period was winning three races for him at the two-day Warwick Farm May Meeting in 1938. Highborn and Rival Hit won the Flying and Handicap double on the first day while Rival Hit came out and won again on the second day. While Payten on behalf of Hughes had won the Kirkham Stakes with Kooba and scored a quinella in the Canonbury Stakes with Rival Chief and Dashing Cavalier, Hughes’ returns had fallen well shy of his outlays.
Now, such a state of affairs doesn’t usually sit well with wealthy industrialists accustomed to dominating any domain within which they operate. While this underachievement may have been the cause of the split between Hughes and Payten, the occasion was the collision of a milk cart with one of his horses on the streets of Randwick on the first Sunday morning in June 1939. The horse in question was the promising Rival Hit, a gelding for which Hughes had paid top guineas, and who was due to go to Brisbane for the winter carnival. It seems that the horse was being exercised on the roads by his usual rider, an old employee of the Payten stable. Hughes demanded that Payten sack the groom but Payten refused. The upshot was that Hughes peremptorily removed all of his horses from Payten’s care including the promising Dashing Cavalier, which Payten considered a real Derby prospect, and turned them over to Jim McCurley, a young man just then setting out on his training career and with a permit to train at Moorefield.
McCurley first came into racing as an apprentice to his uncle Frank McCurley and began riding in pony races. Anyone that knew him later in life wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he soon got too heavy for riding in Sydney and garnered more rides at country race meetings. As his unequal struggle with the scales continued, in 1926 McCurley switched to hurdle races and the highlight of his jumps career was winning three hurdle events at Randwick on Gad Ray. But the time soon came to put away the saddle and McCurley applied for a trainer’s permit. But I digress.
In the year 1937, McCurley was thirty-three and had a well-founded reputation for curing barrier rogues. Two horses trained by him, Celtic Cross and Narbethong, had won several races. Indeed, McCurley already had one or two of Hughes’s horses in his stable including Haze. McCurley had first come to the wool magnate’s attention when he rescued one of his horses at the Central Railway docks as the colt thrashed about in a horsebox. The thoroughbred in question had arrived at Central early and before anyone from the stable had been notified. McCurley happened to be there to collect a horse of his own and calmed the recalcitrant down. After Hughes’ split with Payten, McCurley subsequently became the private trainer to F. W. Hughes, relinquishing all his other clients. He would go on to claim the Sydney trainers’ premiership in the 1946-47 season, winning nineteen races and sharing one dead-heat with horses owned by Hughes, thereby relegating Payten into second place. Meanwhile, the promising Dashing Cavalier, which Payten had picked out at the yearling sales, won The A.J.C. Metropolitan in 1941 as well as two successive A.J.C. Randwick Plates.
F. W. Hughes never did succeed in his quest for the A.J.C. Derby, having four unplaced runners in the course of his racing life i.e. Highborn (1937), Dashing Cavalier (1939), Nightbeam (1940) and Tennessee (1943). However, he did gain the consolation of two A.J.C. Metropolitans at Randwick with two of those Derby starters (Dashing Cavalier and Nightbeam in 1941 and 1944 respectively). And as we shall see later on in this chapter, the year 1947 was to prove extremely successful on the racecourse for Australia’s Man of Wool.
Even without the substantial bloodstock carrying the red and white check livery of Hughes, the decade from 1937 to 1947 was a golden era for Bayly Payten’s Botany-street stables. Payten ended the 1936-37 racing season third on the Sydney Winning Trainers’ List with 22 outright wins and 3 dead-heats and it was the season when he had that triumvirate of fillies in Fidelity, Salamander and Siren. Jack King, who trained a cavalry of horses, took the title that year with 37 wins and 1 dead-heat, ahead of George Price, with 25 wins and 3 dead-heats, although it was Price with £14,500 who finished the leading money trainer. Payten’s tally of winners that season owed much to the affinity of a number of his horses with the course at Warwick Farm.
At the Saturday meeting held there on 21 November 1936, Payten trained no less than four winners on the seven-race card. Micawber, whom he raced himself, set the ball rolling, to be followed by Wykeham, owned by Mrs A. W. Hurd. Then came Sal Volatile, a filly owned by Sir Colin Stephen to be followed by W. W. Ryan’s horse, Irving. The most pleasing aspect of the performance as far as Bayly was concerned was that each winner had a different owner, which now truly reflected the status of his stable. Payten had a big team that year when he had to take out track tickets at Randwick for 26 horses. Although he charged £3/10/- each week to train a horse, much of that disappeared in wages and feed bills. Training winners was still the name of the game, allied with discreet wagering on the side.
While Payten, like most trainers, readily admitted that a good gelding was the ideal horse to train, throughout his career he owed most of his important training successes to fillies and mares. Why is it that trainers with daughters seem to enjoy disproportionate success with fillies? And in Payten’s case, not just success on the racecourse but in the breeding barn afterwards. Perhaps it is a better understanding of the mysterious female psyche. The 1936-37 racing season is an appropriate one in which to examine this phenomenon as regards Bayly Payten. Perhaps his best result that year was to quinella the A.J.C. Adrian Knox Stakes with Sal Volatile and Kinsfolk. The three-year-old classic, which later transmogrified into the A.J.C. Oaks, was then run over the Randwick mile at the Anniversary Meeting in late January/early February. While Payten landed the quinella, believe it or not, he did so with merely the third and fourth-best three-year-old fillies in his stable at the time.
Fidelity, the brilliant juvenile who had won the Maribyrnong Plate, Ascot Vale Stakes and Mimosa Stakes the previous season would have been the favourite but for fracturing her pelvis. Meanwhile, leg problems had precluded Siren, Valicare’s daughter, from continuing her rampage through the classics after her sensational Melbourne spring carnival. It was remarkable how the excellence of some of the thoroughbred families with which Payten had dealings maintained itself across generations right through the female line. Given that a horse’s character is usually inherited, Bayly would often recognise certain traits and quirks maintained through families. We have already looked at Valicare and her daughters, Carefree and Siren. From Vole, a filly that old Tom Payten trained for Colin Stephen and who won the A.J.C. Nursery Handicap at the 1915 Anniversary Meeting and held the record for five furlongs at Randwick, came the half-sisters, Voleuse and Wolverine.
Voleuse was a very smart galloper by Magpie and the winner of the Tattersall’s James Barnes Stakes besides being a placegetter in both the A.J.C. Anniversary Handicap and Tattersall’s Cup. At stud, she dropped Sal Volatile. Wolverine gave Fidelity to the Turf and also Wingecarribee, who showed phenomenal speed early in her career but could not be trained seriously owing to unsoundness. As a broodmare, Wingecarribee won renown by dropping Caesar to the imported stallion Silvius and he was the last good horse that Colin Stephen owned. As we have seen, Bayly Payten trained Caesar to win the V.R.C. Ascot Vale Stakes and the A.J.C. Hobartville Stakes and run second to Ajax in the R.R.C. Rosehill Guineas. Alas, when doing a track gallop in readiness for the A.J.C. Derby and only days after Stephen’s death, Caesar met with serious injuries that kept him off the racecourse for months. Payten did eventually get him back and managed to win both the 1940 Tattersall’s Carrington Stakes and 1941 A.J.C. Challenge Stakes with the horse, who by then was tubed for breathing.
So much for the thoroughbred families of Sir Colin Stephen that Payten trained. Let us not forget the thoroughbred families of his other great patron, Pat Osborne. It is easy to overlook the contribution that Pat Osborne and his wife made to the Turf both as owners and breeders. At their country property ‘Willeroo’ at Tarago, they established a boutique stud where most of their best horses were bred. A number of stallions were selected in England and imported directly to their stud and one example was Excitement, a son of the great Hurry On. He came here as a yearling and was put into work by Payten but broke down before facing the starter. He got the good filly Bimilla in his first year and it was her that prompted Russell and Bert Brown to buy Excitement for their Angle Stud at Dubbo. It was there that he got the Melbourne Cup winner, Russia. The three mares that meant the most to Pat Osborne and indeed to Bayly Payten himself were Valicare and those two lovely chestnut sisters, Pearl Necklace and Yule Cake.
We have dealt with Valicare, so now we will turn our attention to Pearl Necklace and Yule Cake. Each traced back all the way in the Australian Stud Book to the imported broodmare Rusk, the mother of Piecrust and hence the ancestress of Cider and Apple Pie and many other good horses raced by Agar Wynne that were trained by Bayly’s father. Praleen was another member of this historic family and she produced such horses as Brakpan, Koopan and Grasspan – all trained by old Tom. Bayly was abundantly proud of the fact that his association with this particular thoroughbred family extended over the generations.
Like Valicare, both Pearl Necklace and Yule Cake had been purchased as yearlings at the Sydney sales. Pearl Necklace, foaled in 1921, was a daughter of Tressady and thus a full sister to the speedy Lalaguli who had run the minor placing in the 1922 A.J.C. Gimcrack Stakes. She cost Osborne 1000 guineas as a yearling at the same sales that saw Heroic sold for 1800 guineas. Pearl Necklace was regarded as very promising as a young horse but an injury meant she never realised her potential on the racecourse and had to settle for winning the Ladies’ Bracelet at Bong Bong and the Gidleigh Plate at the annual Tirranna picnic meeting.
However, at the stud, Pearl Necklace lived up to her bloodlines. Her first foal was the filly Chorus and she was one of the few Magpies seen to any advantage on rain-affected tracks and was a winner at Canterbury Park. Chorus later produced the filly Salamander, who as a three-year-old won the City Tattersall’s Cup for Osborne and Payten. When Salamander herself went to stud at Willeroo, she, in turn, dropped that good colt, Prince, to another of Osborne’s imported stallions in Cheveley Lad. I might mention in passing that Cheveley Lad, a bay horse foaled in 1933, was the first Fairway horse brought to Australia while his dam was a three-quarter sister to the 1922 English Derby winner Captain Cuttle and to the 1924 St. James Palace Stakes winner, Tom Pinch.
Cheveley Lad arrived here in November 1936, too late in the season to serve a book, although Osborne did give him one mare in Care Free, and the result was a Randwick winner in Happy Lass. Cheveley Lad then only served two full seasons before breaking a leg at Willeroo in August 1939. It is interesting, if fruitless, to speculate on what he might have achieved in the stallion barn had he been spared to serve. Perhaps we shouldn’t give too much credit to Cheveley Lad for Happy Lass as Care Free proved a handy matron for Pat Osborne foaling the A.J.C. Breeders’ Plate winner Royal Sceptre and the Anniversary Handicap winner Freedom to different stallions. I might add that it was soon after foaling to Cheveley Lad that Valicare herself died in December 1938. A foster mother, a Salmagundi mare, was provided for the foal who ultimately carried Osborne’s colours and raced as Farewell, but he was a disappointment on the track. Indeed, Prince was the only stakes winner that Cheveley Lad got at the stud.
After winning two handicaps early in the season, Prince looked like a top prospect for Osborne and Payten in the rich two-year-old races at the 1941 A.J.C. Autumn Meeting. Alas, it was a cracker season for speed and he could only finish a close third to Yaralla and All Love in the A.J.C. Sires’ Produce Stakes and then ran All Love to three-quarters of a length in the Champagne Stakes. After seeming to be a Derby prospect, Prince failed to win as a three-year-old. An honest and consistent horse, more renowned for placings than victories, he did nonetheless win the Royal Mile at Randwick in June 1944 and later that spring the Tattersall’s Tramway Handicap for Pat Osborne.
Two seasons after producing Salamander, Chorus dropped Gilltown who went on to win successive Moonee Valley Cups. Unfortunately for Osborne and Payten, he won those races in another ownership and stable having repeatedly disappointed them. Oliver Twigg became the lucky new owner and the mare was transferred into the stables of a young up-and-coming trainer named Leo O’Sullivan. It was one of those rare missteps in Osborne’s bloodstock dealings. Apart from Chorus, Pearl Necklace also foaled The Oyster in 1931 and she, in turn, became the mother of that top galloper Good Idea who did such good service in the stables of Bob Abbott for the father and son bookmakers, Bob and Arthur Browning. Anyway, so much for Pearl Necklace.
What about the third of Pat Osborne’s triumvirate, Yule Cake? Both Pearl Necklace and Yule Cake raced in the colours of Maud Osborne, Pat’s wife. Indeed, all of their racing and breeding ventures were very much a husband and wife affair. Maud was born as Maud Madden, the daughter of the Chief Justice of Victoria, James Madden. Formerly well-known among theatregoers as Miss Maud Jeffries, she became the leading lady to Julius Knight. The story has often been told of how Pat Osborne gave vent to his thespian tendencies and took to the stage to further his suit of the lady who ultimately became his wife in a most successful marriage. When Yule Cake was offered as a yearling, her breeder Herbert Thompson refused the last bid of 500 guineas and as the filly was leaving the ring unsold, Pat Osborne proffered an advance, which was accepted. A very fast juvenile, Yule Cake won the A.J.C. Canonbury Stakes at her second start and later in the season ran a placing in the A.J.C. Sires’ Produce Stakes.
When Osborne whisked her off to the stud, Yule Cake dropped Mince Pie in 1929 after her mating with Osborne’s stallion, Salmagundi, the year before. Salmagundi, a son of Phalaris, was yet another of those English stallions imported into Willeroo by Pat. Alas, he didn’t keep Salmagundi long before selling him cheaply to Alan Cooper. Salmagundi would ultimately go on to prove a very good broodmare sire as Mince Pie herself would attest, although his best-producing daughter was, of course, Florida, the dam of Tulloch. Now, there was nothing of the meat pie about Mince Pie. A nice little chestnut filly like her mother, she showed precocity from the moment of her first track trial. Indeed, Payten worked her in the wee small hours of the morning while the whole wide world was fast asleep in a bid for a first-up sting in the A.J.C. Widden Handicap in late January 1932. It almost came off too, when she just went under to a better filly in Lady Joy.
Mince Pie never quite lived up to her early promise on the racecourse, becoming more renowned for running places than winning races, such as at the 1933 A.J.C. Summer Meeting when she ran second in each of the Holiday Handicap, Summer Cup and Tattersall’s Cup in the space of nine days. Mince Pie was strongly fancied for the V.R.C. Australian Cup in 1934, which ultimately fell to Heroic Prince. That race day was particularly hot and humid and Mince Pie became so badly distressed by the run that she required ice packs to be applied to her head after the race. In 1937 at stud, she produced the Champagne Stakes winner, John, to another of Pat Osborne’s imported English stallions in John Buchan, a son of the dual Eclipse Stakes winner, Buchan. Before standing him at Willeroo, old Pat raced John Buchan over here and while he proved a useful middle-distance horse with placings in both a Summer Cup and Anniversary Handicap, he was by no means top class.
John, who raced in the all-red livery of Maud Osborne when trained by Bayly, was the only stakes winner that John Buchan ever got at stud. But it was a memorable Champagne Stakes victory as John was the last horse turning for home but then went around the field in the straight to win running away from Lucrative and Flying Knight. Many hailed him there and then as a Derby and Cup winner, although the sectional times hardly rendered the race a true test of quality. Some good judges believed Bayly had an even better Derby prospect in his stables that season in the Harinero filly, Trueness.
Owned by Mrs M. J. Mackay, a daughter of W. J. Mackay who raced the former champion, Beauford, Trueness was chosen out of the Sledmere Stud yearling draft as a likely-looking youngster by Bayly, with the auctioneer’s hammer falling at 550 guineas. Trueness proved a sensational juvenile in the spring when she won the Gimcrack Stakes, Debutante Stakes and Mimosa Stakes treble. In the autumn she was a bit up in the air but still managed to take the V.R.C. Sires’ Produce Stakes. Alas, it proved another bonfire of the vanities for Payten as far as Derby glory went with neither the filly nor the colt coming up in the spring.
Payten snaffled his first trainers’ premiership in 1940-41 when he won a staggering 45 races and £15,781 in stakes, which saw him also triumph as the leading trainer when measured by stakes alone. By now, Payten had the largest string in training on Sydney courses. Runner-up with 37 wins was Jim McCurley, all his victories having accrued to his one and only patron, F. W. Hughes. Perhaps the major highlight of the 1940-41 season was that Payten trained the feature double at both the Tattersall’s Christmas/New Year Meetings and the A.J.C. Anniversary Meeting and on each occasion with the same two horses. Caesar, racing in the nomination of Colin Stephen’s family, won both the Carrington Stakes and the Challenge Stakes while Feminist carrying the colours of her owner-breeder, Herbert Thompson, won both the Tattersall’s Cup and the Anniversary Handicap.
The season before, Feminist had given Payten his first victory in one of the big two staying handicaps at Randwick when this daughter of Pantheon and Loquacious had won the A.J.C. Metropolitan, thereby emulating her dam’s achievement of a decade before. There were also other minor highlights in that 1940-41 season. In early April Payten trained his first treble at Victoria Park and it was also the season in which a sensational, tiny apprentice first emerged from Payten’s stable. His name was Athol George Mulley.
The 1940-41 racing season also saw the emergence of that colourful racehorse Katanga. A son of The Buzzard and bred in Queensland, Katanga proved a good advertisement for that state’s breeding industry. There is a romance to the acquisition of Katanga by his owner that bears telling. When Mr and Mrs C. H. Hicks visited the Lyndhurst Stud at Warwick in the spring of 1937, Mrs Hicks gave many of the yearlings a fond pat. As she was leaving, one of them followed her for a further mark of affection. Mrs Hicks remarked to her husband: “I like that youngster and I’ll buy him when he is put up for auction in Sydney if the price is not too high.” Eventually, Mrs Hicks got him for 450 guineas and named him Katanga, a term of endearment applied by Australian aborigines to their children.
Katanga began his racing career modestly enough and up to the end of his three-year-old season, his only feature win was the 1940 Q.T.C. St Leger in 1940. But he just got better with age. A big gross bay horse, over the years he developed into a remarkable galloper who proved as hard as iron and was arguably the only genuine weight-for-age performer that Bayly Payten ever trained in his life. Few thoroughbreds stood up to hard racing as Katanga did and with the passing of the years, he put on a lot of weight and darkened in colour. As a seven and eight-year-old, physically he resembled a good class coaching horse more than a racehorse. Payten won a string of races with him on all tracks and at all distances, although invariably with Darby Munro in the saddle. Katanga won three A.J.C. Autumn Stakes, two A.J.C. Colin Stephen Stakes and two A.J.C. Chipping Norton Stakes as well the Rawson Stakes, Warwick Stakes, Canterbury Stakes and A.J.C. Plate.
Nonchalant and laidback in the stables, Katanga could become a firebrand on the racecourse as evidenced by his love/hate relationship with Flight. Perhaps unfairly, Katanga is now remembered more for his attempts to savage Flight than he is for his own fine record on the racecourse. His affair with Flight probably began in the 1944 All-Aged Stakes at Randwick when Munro was remorseless on the big stallion. Only two days before the three-year-old Flight had been beaten narrowly in the Doncaster Handicap when burdened with 9 stone. Now, with 8lb less, Flight went off at the prohibitive price of 5/2 on in the All-Aged Stakes, with Main Topic the only other starter.
Munro realised that his best chance of victory lay in denying the filly the chance of opening a big lead. Accordingly, Munro never let up from the jump and Katanga, despite winning, resented the fact. Whether it was the smell or the sight of Flight, Katanga was hellbent on savaging her in their future clashes. He wasn’t the easiest horse to ride at any time as he was prone to pulling up if he hit the front too soon. Accordingly, Munro invariably had to ride a waiting race and time his finishing sprint to perfection. In all, Katanga raced 89 times and won 22 races, including 12 weight-for-age events over distances ranging from 6 furlongs to 14 furlongs and £14,626 in prizemoney. In all but two or three of his wins, Munro was the postillion. Katanga later served at both the Angle Stud at Dubbo and the Canning Downs Stud at Warwick but proved a relative failure as a stallion.
It was during Katanga’s reign as an older top weight-for-age horse that Bayly came closest to winning the A.J.C. Derby. In 1943 he started MacArthur, the equal second favourite in the classic. An impressive colt by Marconigram, he was a half-brother to Royal Chief, the New Zealand champion who won the 1938 A.J.C. Metropolitan Handicap. MacArthur, named after the flamboyant general and dangerous narcissist, Douglas MacArthur, the colt failed to return the blue riband to his owners, Herbert Thompson and Percy Basche when the best he could do was finish fourth behind Moorland. However, he did prove quite a successful stallion when he retired to stud numbering the Moonee Valley Cup winner Mac and the Adrian Knox Stakes winner Persist among his progeny. It was the following year that Payten claimed his best finish in an A.J.C. Derby.
The horse in question was Removal, a colt by Double Remove out of that good Magpie broodmare, Miss Jean. Foaled in the 1941 season, Removal was a half-brother to Climax, the filly who in the hands of Billy Lappin, had given Bayly Payten and George Ferguson a surprise win in the 1940 A.J.C. Adrian Knox Stakes. George Ferguson rather hoped that Removal would deliver him similar classic success after the colt had won the A.J.C. Clibborn Stakes the week before the 1944 A.J.C. Derby. Alas, the champion filly Tea Rose was out and about that year and the best Removal could do was finish second, two lengths away. Bayly Payten had great plans for this big son of Double Remove but unfortunately, the horse was chronically unsound and only ever raced 12 times for 4 wins and 4 placings.
Removal won the 1945 A.J.C. Warwick Stakes and was being prepared for a crack at the Epsom-Metropolitan double when one of his legs became inflamed. Sent to the spelling paddocks, one more start was attempted at five but Removal then broke down completely. I might mention that Payten had two starters in that 1944 A.J.C. Derby, the other being the relative outsider Silver Link, a son of Brueghel who was raced by Payten’s good friend, W. J. Dunlop. While Silver Link failed in the Derby, he proved a handy horse afterwards, winning both a Colin Stephen Stakes and Randwick Plate at headquarters, but is best remembered for his gallant second to Rainbird in the 1945 Melbourne Cup – the closest Payten ever came to winning the big race.
And so we arrive at the year 1947 and Jocular, Bayly Payten’s last best hope for victory in an A.J.C. Derby, although he wasn’t to know it at the time. Both the breeding and the background of the bay colt are interesting. Foaled in Percy Miller’s Kia-Ora Stud paddocks in the spring of 1944, Jocular was by the imported English stallion Double Remove out of the Magpie mare, Korimako. It was at the English Newmarket December Sales in 1936 that Miller acquired Double Remove for the Kia-Ora Stud at a price of 800 guineas, although he cost a great deal more than that to land in Australia. The top half of the horse’s pedigree bristled with English Derby winners. Double Remove was by the 1928 English Derby winner Felstead, who himself was the son of the 1920 English Derby winner Spion Kop. Spion Kop, of course, was by Spearmint, yet another English Derby winner and Carbine’s best son in England. Double Remove was a brother to Early School, an unbeaten two-year-old in England and one of the favourites for the 1937 English Derby at the time of Percy’s purchase.
Double Remove’s dam was Quick Rise, by Hurry On, from Pompadour, by Bayardo, grandsire of the staying Son-in-Law from Popinjay, the dam of Percy Miller’s great old champion, Magpie. With the many grand mares by Magpie at Kia-Ora, it was an interesting return of the blood. A very handsome specimen standing 16.1 hands, Double Remove was the archetype of a stallion in appearance. The son of Felstead had only raced once at two and three times at three before the hard tracks in 1936 brought about his premature breakdown. His best performance on the racecourse came when he finished second to Raeburn in the Column Produce Stakes at Newmarket. The first of Double Remove’s progeny were offered for sale at Easter 1940 and he got away to a cracking stud career when the flying All Love came along in his initial crop. Alas, his subsequent progeny had not been quite as fascinating and his best son up to this time had been Removal, trained by Bayly Payten.
Jocular’s dam, Korimako, was a nice bay by Magpie from Joy Bells, a stylish daughter of Comedy King. Retained by her breeder, Percy Miller, Korimako had been leased for racing to the Randwick trainer, Peter Riddle and had been quite conspicuous on the racecourse. Seen out in the same season as those other females, Fidelity and Siren, Korimako was a smart juvenile and only narrowly lost the rich A.J.C. December Stakes, while at three she ran the minor placing in the V.R.C. Oaks. Later on, she won regularly at courses such as Rosebery, Moorefield and Victoria Park. Miller had a sneaking suspicion that Korimako would make up into a useful broodmare and he backed his judgement. The first of her foals to make it to the racecourse was Edinburgh, a colt by Le Grand Duc that Miller retained to race in his own ‘light blue and dark blue diamonds, red cap’, and he saw him dead-heat for first in the A.J.C. Valicare Handicap at Randwick when trained by Maurice McCarten.
Miller kept Korimako’s next foal away from the yearling sales, too, a year-younger, full sister to Edinburgh, and intended to race her as well. However, Bill Dawes, the well-known brick-master and a friend of both McCarten and Miller, was looking for a racehorse to lease at that time and Miller weakened. Registered as Sweet Chime, she made beautiful music on the racecourse and proved the champion filly of her year. Among her racecourse souvenirs were the Gimcrack Stakes, V.A.T.C. One Thousand Guineas, V.R.C. Wakeful Stakes, V.R.C. Oaks and the A.J.C. Adrian Knox Stakes. Later at stud but long after Percy Miller’s passing, Sweet Chime produced Jingle Bells, who, like her mother, also won the V.R.C. Oaks. Of course, most of this was in the future when Percy Miller had to decide whether in the autumn of 1946 to have and to hold Sweet Chime’s year-younger half-brother by Double Remove or send him to the yearling sales. In the end, Miller consigned three colts and five fillies by Double Remove to the 1946 William Inglis Yearling Sales but the soon-to-be-named Jocular wasn’t numbered amongst them. Given Bayly Payten’s success with Removal and his long-standing friendship with Miller, Jocular was sent to the famous Botany-street stables instead.
Unplaced in the official Victoria Park Barrier Trials for two-year-olds in September 1946, Jocular nonetheless created a favourable impression. His official racecourse debut came in the Canonbury Stakes during the A.J.C. Spring Meeting when he finished sixth in a field of seventeen. Jocular, who was a big horse, suffered from shin-soreness during his two-year-old days and only raced twice in his first season, his second appearance not coming until New Year’s Day. It was during this period of furlough that Percy Miller came to realise just how much he had erred in granting the lease on Jocular’s older half-sister to Bill Dawes, as Sweet Chime cut a swathe through the three-year-old fillies’ classics during the Melbourne spring. For a man who bred so many great horses, so few of them ever carried his own colours and his record as an owner, in the end, was to prove relatively modest. Nonetheless, despite Jocular’s failure at his second and final start as a juvenile in the Nursery Handicap conducted at the Randwick Tattersall’s Meeting on New Year’s Day, Miller still retained high hopes for a Derby success.
Bayly Payten had seen it all too often before to be surprised: staying colts, bred in the purple that demonstrate some initial promise only to fail to train on for various reasons. Jocular proved a case in point. He was constitutionally unsound and his races needed to be carefully spaced. The son of Double Remove wasn’t Payten’s only hope for the A.J.C. Derby in 1947, as he was also training two other staying three-year-olds in Yamboon, a son of The Buzzard, for C. H. Hicks; and Cetewayo, a son of Dark Lover, for Pat Osborne. But as events transpired, Jocular was the only one of the trio to make it into the Derby field. A weakness in one of his legs caused Jocular’s Derby preparation to be less than ideal and he went into the A.J.C. Blue Riband with just two races under his surcingle in the new season.
After a seven-month absence from the racecourse, Jocular resumed on the second day of August in a seven-furlong handicap for three-year-olds at Rosehill. In the hands of Arthur Ward and a field of fourteen, after being one of the last few to the home turn, Jocular came home nicely to finish fifth. Jocular next appeared towards the end of September again at the same course and in another three-year-old handicap, but this time over nine furlongs. Athol Mulley was on Jocular’s back on this occasion, testing him out as a prospective Derby mount, and the pair finished strongly in a big field to get up and dead-heat for first with Lysander, only to be later relegated into the minor placing in the stewards’ room following a successful protest by George Podmore on Blue Ensign. Mulley was initially suspended for two months after the ride but successfully appealed. Given the uncertainty surrounding Mulley’s availability, the Derby ride on Jocular was booked to Barry Robards, an apprentice to Bayly Payten.
Horseracing slowly returned to normal throughout 1947 after the massive dislocation of World War II. It wasn’t until early March that Randwick for the first time in years conducted an eight-race card. Transport problems, so it was claimed, would not have enabled such a lengthy programme before. More than thirty-three thousand people attended that particular fixture. At the 1947 Sydney Easter Yearling Sales, 467 lots changed hands for an aggregate of 256,286 guineas resulting in an average price of 548 guineas. This aggregate was some 6195 guineas below the previous year despite the sale of thirty-three more lots. Nonetheless, bloodstock breeders together with William Inglis and Son through the auctioneer, Reg Inglis, pronounced themselves generally satisfied. However, one man that wasn’t satisfied was W. J. Smith of the St Aubin’s Stud, who withdrew thirty-one of his original draft of fifty-four lots catalogued, claiming that buyers didn’t appreciate the true value of the yearlings submitted.
The highest price paid for a colt at those sales was 3500 guineas, and this amount was paid twice by Azzalin Romano, a man who had done quite well out of the War: firstly, for a brother to Shannon; and secondly, for a half-brother to On Target by Mr Standfast. The former registered as Bernbrook, would win the 1949 A.J.C. Doncaster Handicap and other good races; the latter would sink without a trace. The highest price paid for a filly throughout the sales was 3200 guineas for the yearling by the English sire, Pay Up, from the English mare, Port Dombey, and sold on the last day. She was got in England but foaled in Australia to Australian time and was offered on behalf of Aluinn Stud. Registered as Susan Nipper, she did nothing either on the racecourse or at stud. One of the problems created by the increased number of yearlings being sold was the lack of stable accommodation, particularly at Randwick. The municipal ban on the erection of new stables during the War had created shortages, and many of the old ones were now being demolished for flats and houses.
Sportsmen in attendance at Randwick on Derby Day 1947 noticed some changes on the racecourse since Concerto had taken the classic twelve months earlier. It was at this meeting that it first became compulsory for all one hundred bookmakers operating in the Paddock to field with betting boards; post-war shortages and production restrictions, however, meant that insufficient boards were available to ensure a similar compulsion in the Leger and Flat Reserves. For a fee of £1 per day, each bookmaker had the board and multi-coloured umbrella canopy erected on his stand ready for operations. The fielder was merely required to twiddle the knobs. The betting boards had already been operating successfully on Melbourne racecourses, as well as Wentworth Park dogs, for some time. Just before the boards were introduced, the club had established the notion of ‘rails’ betting at Randwick at the mid-September fixture, although its origins catered more for the comfort of the members’ side than that of the general public.
It wasn’t long before many big punters were lamenting the introduction of the boards. It soon became apparent that price patterns were invariably fashioned by the big men on the rails while the lesser fielders would have spies positioned in the ring with binoculars to call the doings on the rails. The moment that a rails bookmaker laid a horse and altered the odds, bookmakers up to a hundred yards away were apprised of the fact. Punters soon realised the futility of rushing from the rails to the ring proper in the quest for a better price. It was true that in the old days before the boards, it was possible for a stable commissioner to secure top odds with a whole series of bookmakers before ‘runners’ had time to inform the bagmen what was happening. Occasionally commissioners in former times were stopped by bookmakers who recognised them and upon being approached, would either quote shorter than ruling odds or effect a shut-out by announcing: “It’s laid!” As disgusting as that state of affairs was, many commissioners declared it was preferable to the telegraphy associated with the new betting boards.
Fixed starting stalls were also first used at Randwick in 1947, although it would be another few years before mobile stalls were introduced and a Derby-start affected by the new technology. The newly formed Sydney Turf Club was already experimenting with stalls well before the Australian Jockey Club, but tubular stalls were erected at the milepost at Randwick and first used on Doncaster Day, 1947. It was hoped that the debacle associated with the likes of Shannon and that infamous Epsom start would become a thing of the past. Another set of fixed stalls was later established on the course at the five-furlong start. It was because these stalls were not portable that the start of most races, including the Derby, continued to be done with the old barrier strands. Along with the introduction of stalls at Randwick on Doncaster Day, 1947, came the photo finish, or in the quaint language of the time, “the magic eye” camera.
There were other notable milestones for the Australian Jockey Club in the year 1947. A modern laboratory was erected on Randwick racecourse, and Miss Jean Kimble (B. Sc.) was appointed as the laboratory analyst or ‘dope tester’ as the newspaper Truth put it. The first shot fired in the A.J.C. campaign against the doping of horses came on Villiers Stakes Day when swabs or saliva tests were taken on two Villiers runners, Native Son and Dutchman. There were changes of note to the A.J.C. committee as well. In April the former chairman, George Main, announced his retirement from the committee and he was succeeded by Tom Baillieu, aged forty-nine, who had held the rank of wing-commander in World War II and had won the Distinguished Flying Cross in World War I. He was a nephew of ‘Prince’ Baillieu, the breeder of Ajax. In November 1947 Rodney Dangar, the owner of Peter Pan, resigned from the A.J.C. committee after ten years of service, owing to ill-health. Samuel Hordern, the 38-year-old son of Sir Samuel Hordern, was elected to the vacancy unopposed, after having been nominated by George Main and seconded by Frank Underwood.
The lead-up to the 1947 A.J.C. Derby was to some extent overshadowed by the drama and sensation of the so-called Huamight case – the form reversal of the horse of that name in winning the Spring Handicap at Randwick on Tattersall’s Chelmsford Stakes Day, September 13, 1947. It came with the accompaniment of hoots and howls from the racing public as the horse had finished an inglorious last at Canterbury the previous week. I shall leave the telling of this story to the 1959 chapter of my chronicle as it directly affects one of the Derby principals of that year. Let it be said here, however, that the A.J.C. stewards initiated their first retrospective inquiry in almost three years, which ultimately led to the disqualification for one year of Huamight, his owners, trainer and jockey. However, that case, and the circumstances surrounding the revocation of jockey Athol Mulley’s licence on Villiers Stakes Day the previous year, once again attracted unwanted headlines from newspapers such as Truth and The Mirror as to the ‘Star Chamber’ methods of the A.J.C. committee in conducting such inquiries.
It was in January 1935 that an amendment had been made to the Australian Jockey Club Act, to strengthen the club’s power and authority in banning undesirable characters from the racecourse. The amendment, which received royal assent in April 1935, had been made necessary by the N.S.W. Supreme Court finding in favour of that colourful scoundrel, Rufe Naylor, in his long battle waged with the club through the legal system. The amendment vested in the A.J.C. a power to warn off any person from the Turf without giving the accused person any explanation for such warning-off, and without giving the accused person any right to defend himself or submit evidence on his behalf, in any shape or form whatsoever. As a result of some high-profile cases, this power, or right, now seemed to many entirely contrary to all tenets of the rights of man under the Australian Constitution.
Accordingly, in 1947 the Parliamentary Labor Caucus of the State Government passed a majority resolution that in future, members of the racing public were to be protected from secret trials and a Caucus sub-committee recommended the Government authorise an independent Racing Appeals Tribunal. Such a body would determine appeals from decisions of the A.J.C. committee. A District Court Judge might preside on the tribunal, and it would be open to the press and public alike. Such a change would have required an amendment to the Gaming and Betting Act. Ultimately this proposal wasn’t accepted by the cabinet, but in 1948 an Act was passed confirming the right of appeal to the A.J.C. committee of any person warned off or disqualified requiring the committee to hear such appeals in public. Subsequent appeals often became more protracted affairs as a result of frequent recourse to legal counsel, but the nature of open appeals at least blunted much of the criticism that the committee was flaunting ‘due process’ in discharging its quasi-legal responsibilities.
In some years the Derby is better than others; and in some years, it is not very good at all. 1947 was just such a year. The boom galloper of the juvenile season had been the flying Temeraire, a very well-developed chestnut son of Felcrag, trained by Fred Cush and ridden throughout his two-year-old season by Bill Cook. Temeraire had been bred by his owner, Mrs H. E. Rudd at Richmond, N.S.W. and catalogued at the Sydney Easter Yearling Sales. However, at the last moment, Mrs Rudd decided against submitting him for sale and withdrew the colt. It was a fortuitous change of heart. A winner of the A.J.C. Breeders’ Plate at his first start by eight lengths, Temeraire proceeded to remain unbeaten in a sensational season that saw him win in succession the Kirkham Stakes (by ten lengths), December Stakes, Macarthur Quality, and the Sires’ Produce Stakes and Champagne Stakes at Randwick. Moreover, the colt seemed at home in any state of going. To the end of his days, Bill Cook maintained he was the fastest two-year-old he ever rode. When Temeraire retired to his winter quarters in 1947, he was commonly regarded as holding a mortgage on the A.J.C. Derby – provided he could stay.
The aura of invincibility remained just as intimidating after Temeraire resumed from a spell to take out the Hobartville Stakes by eight lengths at his first start in the new season. Indeed, only one Paddock bookmaker dared to compile a ledger on that event, and the colt’s nominal starting price was 50/1 on! Such extravagance generally betokens a fall, and it wasn’t long in coming. How often have we seen it? A horse that is indomitable in sprints, only to be cruelly exposed the first time of asking over a bit of ground. The first bitter taste of defeat came in the Canterbury Guineas when Temeraire was sent to the post deeply in the red, only to be run down in the straight and beaten a length by The Groom, a son of Hua bred by W. J. Smith at his St Aubins Stud at Scone.
Anybody that supposed the eclipse of Temeraire had been a chance happening was disabused of the notion a week later with the complete rout of the flying colt in the Chelmsford Stakes. Thereafter the previous season’s speedster quietly slipped from the Derby radar screen. Given the defection of Temeraire, there seemed little gold among the dross of the remaining Derby aspirants and, for a time, favouritism for the race was more akin to a game of musical chairs, as hot prospects came and went with the passing of each Saturday fixture. The collapse of Temeraire and the absence of an outstanding staying colt rendered the Derby even more of a puzzle. Anyone examining the likely prospects through a looking glass could have been forgiven, just like Alice, for crying: “curiouser and curiouser”.
Indeed, the landscape tempted quite a number of owners to engage Don Quixote-like, in tilting at windmills and trying for the Derby when otherwise they wouldn’t have bothered. I suspect that Percy Miller was one of them. On paper, it appeared the most open classic for a decade. The more that punters studied the form, the more they could relate to that bemused gentleman in ‘Omar Khayam’, who “heard great argument about it and about: but evermore came out by the same door as in I went.” Alas, the lack of willingness of the best-staying colts from Victoria and South Australia in Chanak and Beau Gem to compete didn’t clarify matters as each was reserved for the Victoria Derby instead. Much post-war reconstruction was ongoing, and fuel shortages and the like still meant that the easy carriage of people and livestock hadn’t returned to pre-war levels.
The 1947 A.J.C. Derby field and race conditions are set out in the table below:
In the end, the public elect for the Derby was Karachi, from the first crop of the imported Hyperion horse, Neptune. A half-brother to the 1939 English Two Thousand Guineas and Derby winner, Blue Peter, Neptune was standing at the Cranleigh Stud at Maxwell in the Wanganui district of New Zealand. Karachi’s dam, Sudan, was by Beau Pere out of a daughter of the great Desert Gold. A massive bay, Karachi had been bought at the New Zealand Yearling Sales by the distinguished studmaster Maurice Grogan for 1900 guineas on behalf of Mr L. A. (Alf) Bowler, the managing director of Tattersall’s Bloodstock Ltd and the youngster was a combined Birthday/Christmas present for his wife, Kathleen. Grogan had been in charge of the Westmere Stud in New Zealand when both Beau Pere and Chief Ruler stood there in the 1930s.
Karachi raced in the same colours of ‘white, dark blue spots, red sleeves, dark blue cap’ of another good New Zealand galloper, Barwon, who had such an unlucky trip to Australia in the previous spring. Karachi had first been placed in the Victoria Park stables of the veteran trainer, E. E. Byrnes, and made his racecourse debut in a juvenile handicap at Randwick in January. Hopelessly placed at the top of the straight by his jockey, Val Faggoter, a 3lb claiming apprentice, Karachi came with a whirlwind finish that day and only just failed to run down Prince Mohican. After the race, Kathleen Bowler refused an offer of 3000 guineas for her horse.
Karachi subsequently failed in the Havilah Handicap at Randwick when the odds-on favourite but another runner had badly interfered with him at the start. The son of Neptune made amends with a runaway win in a two-year-old race at Rosehill in late April 1947 although it was after this race that the horse was transferred to trainer Maurice McCarten at Randwick. Maurice Grogan, who represented the racing interests of the Bowler family was good friends with McCarten, and both men hailed from the Wanganui district of New Zealand. McCarten then sent the horse for a spell and he resumed in the new season to win a mixed stakes race, a relatively new concept, over seven furlongs at Rosehill on the first Saturday in August. Karachi now stood more than seventeen hands, but he was not ungainly for his size; his only blemish was a joint enlargement on one leg although it never affected his galloping action. A much-improved colt from his juvenile days, Karachi had been racing most consistently with minor placings in both the Canterbury and Rosehill Guineas, and in the Derby enjoyed the services of Neville Sellwood.
Karachi was one of two horses that McCarten had engaged in the race, the other being Lysander, a brother to Shannon for whom Ernie Williams had paid 4000 guineas at the 1946 Sydney Yearling Sales. That 1946 Easter catalogue of yearlings sold by William Inglis and Son, had been the greatest sale in the history of Australian bloodstock up to that time. At 4000 guineas, Lysander had been an expensive yearling but not the most expensive of those sales. 434 yearlings had been sold that year resulting in an aggregate of 262,480 guineas, with 55-year-old Reg Inglis at the rostrum. The American film magnate, Louis B. Mayer paid 4300 guineas for the Ajax-La Rasade colt, which equalled the amount Azzalin Romano paid for a half-brother to Modulation, by Le Grand Duc from Vocal. Neither colt ever amounted to anything. The average yearling price at the sales was some 704 guineas. By comparison, the ten lots by the leading stallion, Ajax, averaged just over 2000 guineas, although nothing sired by Ajax made it into the Derby field.
Although Lysander had dead-heated to win a three-year-old handicap at Rosehill at his most recent start, he wasn’t regarded as a serious challenge. The horse best supported to beat Karachi was Conductor, the colt that had lowered his colours in the Rosehill Guineas. Trained by Clyde Cook at Victoria Park initially for Herman Singer, who was one of the principals outed by the A.J.C. over the Huamight case, Conductor was a fine-looking specimen by Marconigram and had enjoyed quite a reputation even before he made his racing debut. Alas, his juvenile season proved to be somewhat disappointing. Nonetheless, the colt’s powerful finish to win the Rosehill Guineas in the hands of Ted Fordyce – after conceding the leaders quite a start – had seen him catapult to near Derby favouritism. The two colts that shared the next line of betting in the Derby, Marine Victory and The Groom, were each trained by Jack Mitchell at Randwick. The Groom had lost caste after winning the Guineas at Canterbury with an indifferent display at Rosehill behind Conductor; while Marine Victory had won a three-year-old handicap at Rosehill in late August easily beating Karachi, among others.
One interesting runner in the race was Valiant Crown trained by the unfashionable Alf Doyle from his Prince St premises at Randwick, although the stable worked their horses at Victoria Park. As a two-year-old, this son of Valiant Chief was thought worthy of a start in the A.J.C. Breeders’ Plate although he was never a possibility in running. Later that season he won twice, including the George Rowe Handicap on the Wednesday of the A.J.C. Autumn Meeting after surprising many when he managed to beat all but the place-getters, Temeraire, Deep Sea and The Groom, in the Sires’ Produce Stakes on the previous Saturday. In resuming from his winter recess, Valiant Crown had excited Derby speculation when he won in open company at Randwick, only to sully his reputation in two subsequent appearances.
At his latest outing, Darby Munro, after declaring 2lb overweight, had attempted to lead all the way on the colt in the Rosehill Guineas, only to be run down in the straight to finish third. That performance had convinced Munro that Valiant Crown would not get the mile-and-a-half and consequently he had accepted the mount on The Groom instead. Noel McGrowdie was substituted in his place. Although Munro’s misgivings saw the bay go to the post quoted at double-figure odds, it wasn’t before some bettors behind the Doyle stable had helped themselves to as much as 15/1 in the ring. Alf Doyle certainly turned out the bay son of Valiant Chief in superb condition on Derby Day – a picture of subdued energy in every fibre of his frame as he paraded. Many noted racing journalists, among them, Fred Imber, had long praised Doyle’s presentation of his charges on race day.
So much, then, for the lowdown on the showdown: what happened next surprised everybody. While the favourite Karachi had drawn twelve at the barrier with Jocular in two and next to Conductor in three, Valiant Crown was drawn the widest of them all. McGrowdie, on Valiant Crown, saw only one way of getting across from there. Best to observe those famous instructions: ‘Jump in front and keep improving your position’. Accordingly, McGrowdie emulated Munro’s tactics at Rosehill and when the barrier was released rushed Valiant Crown to the front and onto the fence. Now, ’tis often said that fools rush in where wise men never go’, but wise men rarely ride outsiders in Derbies, so how are they to know? Rushing to the lead in that Derby was an inspired moment of horsemanship from McGrowdie. He got there cheaply and then proceeded to play up his winnings. And one of the advantages of taking a long-priced horse to the lead is that rival jockeys are rarely anxious because they expect the outsider to stop. Meanwhile, Sellwood was prepared to bide his time on Karachi while Robards had Jocular settled nicely in fourth.
It was at the mile that McGrowdie dashed Valiant Crown well clear. The pursuing riders then wasted the next three furlongs in blameable inactivity. Mrs Beeton, in her famous cookery book, began the recipe for a jugged hare with the rather sensible advice: ‘first, catch your hare’. It was an injunction that McGrowdie’s rivals might well have heeded as they sat and waited for Valiant Crown to stop and come back to the fold. This particular hare, however, with McGrowdie giving him the rounds of the kitchen, never looked like stopping. The colt had the race won as far out as five furlongs where he enjoyed a ten-length break over his nearest rival. In the straight, although the margin was significantly reduced, he was never in the least danger of being caught and ran out an easy winner from Conductor and Sovereign. Karachi attempted to run off the course turning for home and pig-rooted down much of the straight while Jocular only plugged on to finish eighth. As is so often the case when a horse leads all the way, the winning time taken for the race of two minutes and thirty-five seconds was rather ordinary.
Valiant Crown was bred at the Redbank Stud at Scone by Laurie Morgan, one of Australia’s most colourful sportsmen and whose life reads like something out of a Boy’s Own Manual. It was he who had selected and recommended the horse for his owner, C. F. Baker. Born in February 1915, Morgan spent most of his formative years on his family’s farm in Yea, northwest of Melbourne, and is now best remembered, not for his breeding exploits as a small-time studmaster, but rather for his equestrian skills. The latter culminated in him winning two gold medals at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. The captain of the Australian equestrian team, Morgan won the individual and the team three-day event on his horse, Salad Days, a former racehorse.
Morgan became the first rider in Olympic history to receive maximum bonus points for cross-country and endurance and was forty-five at the time of his Olympic triumph. In 1961, again on Salad Days, he won the Badminton title in dressage. Before returning to Australia, he presented Salad Days to the Queen as a gift. It still wasn’t enough for this rugged adventurer, who indulged his love of steeplechasing by competing in many races in Great Britain including riding around the Grand National course in the Aintree Fox Hunter’s Cup, which he won on College Master. Indeed, Morgan won 22 of his 33 starts as an amateur steeple chase jockey in England.
Laurie Morgan was also an accomplished polo player, winning many trophies, while as a very young lad, he once held the Victorian amateur junior heavyweight boxing championship. All this notwithstanding, between 1937 and 1939 he played thirty-four games as a ruckman with the Fitzroy Football Club. Morgan was also a champion rower and was selected to row for Victoria in the King’s Cup. However, this is a chronicle about racehorses, and perhaps I should stick to the main subject. It was in September 1943 that Laurie Morgan purchased the Redbank property on Dartbrook Creek, Moobi, near Scone in the Hunter Valley from the Badgery family. Morgan developed the place into a successful thoroughbred stud. A few months earlier he had purchased the broodmare, Bandrol, for 150 guineas at the dispersal sale of the Toolamba Stud in Victoria. At around the same time, he acquired the Heroic horse, Valiant Chief, who he then installed as his resident stallion at Redbank. The A.J.C. Derby winner, Valiant Crown, was the happy result of the subsequent mating of Bandrol with Valiant Chief during Morgan’s first weeks at Redbank. I might add that Port Vista also stood at Redbank for a time, before flourishing as a stallion at Ron Barr’s stud at Windsor.
Both the sire and dam of the Derby winner proved wonderful investments for Morgan. Bandrol was a good matron, and the same season Valiant Crown won the Derby, his half-sister Bannerette by Solar Bear, won both the Port Adelaide and Australian Cups. Needless to say, with progeny like that her future offspring became much sought after. At the 1948 Sydney Easter Sales, Laurie Morgan sold a full brother to the Derby winner for 3300 guineas – the second-highest price of those sales – on a bid from Adolph Basser. Basser was in an extravagant mood that autumn in his search for a Derby winner, and while he found one at those very same sales, it wasn’t the Bandrol colt. Bandrol next dropped a full sister in Titian, who was to be a smart juvenile, winning the December Stakes at Randwick. Valiant Chief, a chestnut son of Heroic, was to prove almost as good a stallion as he had been a racehorse when trained by Jack Holt. Indeed, Valiant Chief was a particular favourite of Holt and his sisters around the Mordialloc stables.
At his best at around a mile and usually ridden by Keith Voitre, he had won both the Linlithgow Stakes and C.M. Lloyd Stakes at Flemington for the Victorian M.L.C., Archie Crofts. Apart from Valiant Crown and Titian, Valiant Chief got a number of useful gallopers, the best probably being the dual Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner, Valcurl. I might add that Laurie Morgan’s claim to fame as a studmaster doesn’t rest with the breeding of a Derby winner alone. He also bred the 1968 S.T.C. Golden Slipper Stakes winner, Royal Parma. Morgan owned both the sire, Parma, and the dam, Memory Time, of Royal Parma. He bought Parma in England for some £250 in 1962 when he was riding there in those cross-country events. The horse broke his near hind leg soon after arriving in Australia, but veterinary surgeons managed to patch him up to serve restricted books of mares. While Royal Parma was the best of his progeny, other useful horses included On Par, Delrepar, Caveat Emptor, Positano, Mosman Bay and Mystic Glen. The good fortune to breed both a Derby and a Golden Slipper winner falls to very few studmasters and even fewer with the relatively modest resources of a Laurie Morgan.
Unlike Bayly Payten, the journeyman Sydney trainer Alf Doyle had neither distinguished pastoral families on the land nor distinguished thoroughbred families in the studbook, to sustain his stable operations. Nonetheless, he had been able to purchase Valiant Crown privately as a yearling for 1250 guineas. In so doing, he was acting on behalf of retired Sydney businessman, C. F. Baker, who had been a senior executive at C.S.R. Ltd. The price wasn’t cheap, although, with the post-war euphoria, prices for yearlings had boomed and for the first time over one hundred were sold in Australia that year for 1000 guineas or more. Baker had raced very few horses before but had always taken a keen interest in the sport and his Alison Road home overlooked Randwick racecourse. Despite the relatively long odds offered about Valiant Crown for the classic, Baker was so sanguine as to the colt’s chances that he had made all of the arrangements on the preceding Thursday for a celebration party at his home on Derby night. The Derby was to be the pinnacle of Alf Doyle’s long career as a public trainer. Never regarded as a fashionable horseman, he was nonetheless well-skilled in his craft. His father, A. J. Doyle senior had been one of those clever men who grafted a living, preparing gallopers on the notorious old pony tracks; indeed, he had been responsible for a number of A.R.C. champions including Toinette and John Porter. In those days when pony racing was flourishing and £1,000 Cup races used to be included in the programmes, Alf Doyle senior invariably had one in smoke to steal the show.
Granted a permit to train in the years before the War, Alf junior trained out of Kensington with his small team and for clients such as W. J. McDonald and Harry Whittle. Doyle enjoyed his best season since starting out as a trainer in 1940-41 when, with a cheap lot of yearlings such as Lord Pentheus, The Hussy and Peruvian, he won seven races. When The Hussy won a two-year-old handicap at Kensington in May 1941 in the hands of Maurice McCarten, Doyle enjoyed the best win of his life. The filly had been backed from 12/1 into half that price. However, as the War darkened and the McKell State Labor Government used a Government Gazette in January 1942 to ban mid-week racing, Doyle closed his stables and went to work in a munitions factory where he remained for some four years. When Valiant Crown won his first race, at Rosehill in mid-March 1947 at 33/1 with the apprentice, George Podmore in the saddle, it was Doyle’s first winner since Happy Bay took a trial handicap at Canterbury in May 1942.
Even with the end of hostilities in World War II, Doyle was in two minds about whether or not to resume his old vocation. One of his main concerns, which he had articulated in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in December 1943, was the shortage of training quarters at Randwick. Before relinquishing his licence during the War, Doyle had been training his small team out of Jim Barden’s establishment. There was considerable excitement in the Doyle stable approaching the 1947 A.J.C. Spring Meeting as apart from Valiant Crown, it sheltered a very smart two-year-old filly by Felcrag called Silverfel, who had cost the stable client R. G. Potts 1150 guineas as a yearling. Such was her speed on the track and at the official two-year-old trials that she started the 5/4 favourite for the Gimcrack Stakes on the Monday following the Derby. Alas, she could only finish third behind Midwise and Wattle although she redeemed herself before the year was out by winning the prestigious December Stakes in the hands of Arthur Ward at the A.J.C. Summer Meeting.
Valiant Crown was to be Noel McGrowdie’s only winning ride in the Derby from ten attempts but rarely in the history of the race had victory been so largely attributable to one jockey’s initiative. And yet there was speculation that he would be replaced as Valiant Crown’s rider in the Victoria Derby by Neville Sellwood. A natural lightweight, McGrowdie achieved a remarkable record in prestigious distance handicaps in Australia; he didn’t enjoy the same success in weight-for-age races, however, probably because of his lightweight and the preference of trainers for live rather than dead weight in such contests. Nor did McGrowdie ever figure prominently in the Sydney jockeys’ premiership although this may be attributed to his preference for riding freelance.
Born in Toowoomba in 1920, his father Charlie was a handy jockey who later turned to both training and hobby breeding. It was as a small-time breeder and owner that Charlie McGrowdie hit the jackpot when he acquired the mare Lotchen, by Advance. As a broodmare, she became the dam of his two Queensland Derby winners in Kingslot (1922) and Serelot (1924). It was after winning the Q.T.C. Guineas, Q.T.C. Derby and the Queensland Cup that Charlie McGrowdie sold Kingslot to Sir Samuel Hordern for £2,100 – a small fortune in those times. It was hardly surprising that Charlie McGrowdie later named his house and stables ‘Kingslot’.
Noel McGrowdie was on horseback at a very young age, and his attitude and aptitude for the business of a jockey were soon manifested with his exhibitions both in the show ring and droving on the Darling Downs. McGrowdie was fourteen when he entered his apprenticeship with Les Roberts at Toowoomba, but when that trainer was disqualified, his indentures were transferred to the premier Brisbane trainer, George Anderson. McGrowdie rode in Sydney as a midget sixteen-year-old for a time in 1936 without success, but the experience helped him to eventually become Brisbane’s leading apprentice jockey when he came out of his time in 1941. Classed as unfit for military service, McGrowdie was nevertheless man-powered to work on the Brisbane wharves to assist the war effort, and it was here that he first attained the sobriquet ‘Digger’ that stuck throughout his riding career.
Dissatisfied with work on the docks, McGrowdie managed to secure a release and moved to Sydney to continue his career in the saddle, beginning his first full season of riding here in 1943-44 at the age of twenty-four. Within a matter of weeks, he was fortunate enough to secure the mount on Maurice McCarten’s lightly-weighted Kiaree in the Epsom Handicap when Ted Bartle, the stable jockey, was unable to do the weight. Although a 40/1 outsider, McGrowdie gave a masterly exhibition to land the prize for the woollen mills’ proprietor, Stirling Henry. It was to be a season that not only started with a bang but closed with one as well for McGrowdie when he piloted Abbeville to victory in the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle. It was after that race that McGrowdie reported to stewards he had been offered an inducement to stop his horse. The subsequent inquiry led to the disqualification of jockeys Andy Knox and Fred Shean for ten and two years respectively.
McGrowdie enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as a rider in staying races and Randwick was his favourite course having won the Sydney Cup and The Metropolitan there each on three separate occasions; his Sydney Cup wins were with Bankstream (1951), Opulent (1952) and Straight Draw (1958) while his wins in The Metropolitan were Nightbeam (1944), Murray Stream (1945) and Straight Draw (1957). It was Straight Draw, trained by Jack Mitchell that also gave him his only win in the Melbourne Cup. In 1960 Noel McGrowdie accepted an offer to ride in Malaysia. He was an immediate success, winning the premiership in his first season and seemed certain to win it again the following year when in September 1961, he was killed in a road accident near Ipoh in the north of Malaysia, en route to a race meeting at Penang.
Before I leave the 1947 A.J.C. Derby, I might just observe that it was the last A.J.C. Spring Meeting at which Colonel Dudley A. Smith served as the Judge. He became “the man in the box” upon the death of Leslie Rouse and then acted continuously in that capacity until the close of the 1947-48 racing season. Originally a grazier at Molong, he joined up for the First World War and quickly rose to the rank of Major and fought as such at Egypt, Sinai, Palestine and Syria. Smith was second in command of the First Light Horse Brigade, winning the D.S.O. there and after which he was subsequently promoted to Colonel. Dudley Smith had judged on practically every metropolitan and provincial course in Sydney. Prior to the introduction of the photo-finish camera, he was convinced that a better line could be got on any race finish by being in an elevated position and with an overhead wire at the winning post as assistance. Smith was succeeded as the A.J.C. Judge by his assistant, Claude Martin. Dudley Smith died suddenly from a heart attack at his Bayview home at the age of sixty-four in March 1950.
Those who had suspected the 1947 Derby field at Randwick to be rather ordinary and believed the Melbourne colts superior, were proved right later that spring. Valiant Crown and the Derby runner-up, Conductor, were each taken to Melbourne. By contrast, Jocular wasn’t taken anywhere. In the Caulfield Cup, a fortnight after the Derby, Valiant Crown finished second last in a field of twenty-six in the race won by Columnist. The Victoria Derby proved no more successful. That year there were two very good colts on the scene in the shape of Chanak and Beau Gem. The Hellespont colt, Chanak, had been Victoria’s champion two-year-old of the autumn and had continued on his winning way in the new season. After annexing the Moonee Valley Stakes, Chanak had been controversially beaten into second place in the Caulfield Guineas when Scobie Breasley dropped his hands near the post, with the race at his mercy. The lapse cost Breasley a month’s suspension. Chanak had then come out and won the W.S. Cox Plate and was sent to the post for the Victoria Derby a very warm favourite.
Next in demand came the South Australian-owned colt, Beau Gem, a half-brother to the outstanding racehorse, Royal Gem, and already the winner of the Port Adelaide Guineas. Valiant Crown was an 8/1 chance at barrier rise. It proved to be a cracking race with the two favourites drawing away from the field and racing head and head over the last furlong and a half. The camera was called upon for the first time in the event with Beau Gem declared the winner by a half-head in a time that was three-quarters of a second faster than the previous race record, shared by Phar Lap and a few others. Conductor did best of the Sydney colts filling the minor placing some five lengths behind the first pair, while Valiant Crown languished back in fifth place.
That 1947 V.R.C. Spring Meeting must have given Bayly Payten some heartburn for it was to be an absolute triumph for his one-time client, F. W. Hughes. While Payten didn’t even have a horse in his stable worth taking to Melbourne, least of all Jocular, Jim McCurley on behalf of his one and only patron, prepared the grey gelding Hiraji to win the Melbourne Cup that year. Hughes bought Hiraji, a son of Nizami, for 2100 guineas after the gelding’s successful two-year-old season in New Zealand. What a spring the Hughes-McCurley team enjoyed in Melbourne in 1947. Apart from the Cup itself, Hiraji had finished runner-up in the Caulfield Cup to Columnist while the stable swept the board in the fillies’ classics when Nizam’s Ring won The One Thousand Guineas, Wakeful Stakes, and V.R.C. Oaks. And Hughes and McCurley would win the Wakeful Stakes and the V.R.C. Oaks again the following year with yet another Nizami filly in Grey Nurse.
It may have taken Hughes a while to land some of the rich prizes on the Australian Turf but he got there in the end and much of the credit may be attributed to his shrewd purchase of the French-bred stallion Nizami in February 1946. Hughes had stood a number of stallions at his Kooba Stud including Fanfare, The Marne, Oro, Silver Standard, Titan, English Edition, Dink, Posterity and Roussel Water, many of whom sunk without trace, but Nizami was to prove something else. Originally brought to New Zealand by Seton Otway to stand at his Trelawney Stud, this son of Firdaussi and the brilliant Mumtaz Mahal came to Australia after serving only three seasons across the Tasman, having failed to attract the quantity and quality of mares he deserved. And yet while Nizami was to give F. W. Hughes a succession of high-class winners, the wealthy industrialist hardly enjoyed them in full measure. Nizami came towards the end of Hughes’s life when he was suffering badly from arteriosclerosis. Instead of being present at Flemington on those triumphal November afternoons in 1947 and 1948, as a poor substitute, Hughes was hunched miserably over a radio in his Sydney apartment listening to the race commentaries.
F. W. Hughes died of a heart attack on 18 August 1950, ironically at the peak of the Korean War-wool boom, aged eighty and his body was cremated at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium following a private family funeral. Like many men with a Midas touch, Hughes’s personality was both flawed and complex and while he was a conspicuous success in business, he was a conspicuous failure in personal relationships. Shy and sad, silent and secretive, he was and remained a loner. He rarely smiled and never laughed. Few public photographs of him exist and it is perhaps no accident that in the one possessed by the State Library of N.S.W., he is engulfed in shadows. Hughes wasn’t given to philanthropy either in life or in death and his whole existence seemed but a remorseless drive for acquisition and accumulation, a struggle to be waged unremittingly and unrelentingly against a hostile world.
A millionaire, Hughes’s estate was valued at only £83,852 when probate was declared. That relatively small sum wasn’t a tribute to his philanthropy, which was modest at best, but rather to the cleverness of his lawyers and accountants. In juxtaposition to the measly probate declaration stood the fact that the newly-formed company of F. W. Hughes Industries Ltd had a declared capital of £7,500,000. An investigation was launched by the McGirr Labor Government but nothing ever came of it. In the thirteen years that Hughes was involved in the racing industry, his horses won some 270 races and about £130,000 in stakes. At the time of his death, his company either owned or leased over 300 horses and most were sold soon after. Considering the subsequent triumphs of the free-spending Hughes after his split with Payten in the winter of 1939, the latter paid a high price for his principled stance on behalf of one of his long-serving employees, although, no doubt, Payten slept the more soundly for it.
It is fair to say that the fortunes of few Derby winners at Randwick have plummeted more spectacularly than Valiant Crown in the wake of their finest hour. In thirty-seven more appearances on a racecourse after his classic triumph, Valiant Crown was to win only one more race – the Woollahra Handicap over a mile at the 1951 A.J.C. Autumn Meeting and at the cricket score odds of 66/1! Alf Doyle retired the six-year-old at the end of that season. Of those that had followed Valiant Crown home in the Derby, few amounted to anything. Karachi, the big horse that started as the favourite for the race, was subsequently gelded, and while that belated operation brought about some improvement, his heart was not in proportion to his frame. The only principal race that Karachi ever won was the 1948 A.J.C. Craven Plate having earlier in the same week run second with 7 st. 12lb to Buonarroti Boy in The A.J.C. Metropolitan. However, Karachi did make a significant contribution to the first of Maurice McCarten’s Sydney trainers’ premierships in that 1948-49 season, when with four victories he was the highest contributor to McCarten’s tally of thirty-one winners.
Lysander, Ernie Williams’ 4000 guineas yearling, proved expensive over his lifetime although he did give his owner the first of his many major trophies when with 7 st. 11lb, he narrowly beat the fast-finishing Silver Link in the 1948 City Tattersall’s Cup over the mile-and-a-half at Randwick. The Groom went on to become a high-class miler with wins in the S.T.C. Theo Marks Quality, A.J.C. George Main Stakes, Warwick Stakes and All-Aged Stakes. However, Conductor was probably the best of that 1947 Derby field, and although chronic rheumatism marred his career, he did manage to win The A.J.C. Metropolitan as a six-year-old when trained by Jack Green.
And what of the sensational Temeraire that never even made it into the Derby field? In many ways, the horse could be likened to a gas lamp in the street with the wind in its pipe. He had shone with a remarkable brilliancy throughout his two-year-old season, then sank so low to be scarcely discernible as an early-season three-year-old. Breaking down in his back tendons, Temeraire was then off the scene for some thirteen months. Like the gas lamp, he then burst out again for just a moment, then flickered with an unpredictable, staggering sort of light, before being extinguished altogether. Retired from the racecourse, Temeraire was sold as a stallion for 1700 guineas at the 1949 Autumn Newmarket bloodstock sales. Purchased by F. W. Hughes for his Kooba Stud, Temeraire proved a relative failure at stud and the best of his progeny were probably Cynosure and Lucky Stride. It was Cynosure that gave apprentice Les Coles just his second winner when the colt won at 100/1 on debut in a Canterbury Maiden Handicap for two-year-olds in January 1953.
Valiant Crown’s Derby was to be the highlight of Alf Doyle’s training career. There would be other winners for other clients down through the years including Hurry Up for N. S. Cohen in the 1950 A.J.C. Plate and Apex for Messrs Pattinson and Ferguson in the 1953 A.J.C. Challenge Stakes, but nothing approaching another Derby colt. Sadly, for Bayly Payten that 1947 A.J.C. Derby was his last chance of winning the Randwick Blue Riband. Sydney’s leading trainer died on September 9, 1948, aged just fifty-two and less than a month before the A.J.C. Spring Meeting that year. Payten had been suffering ill health for eighteen months and had been admitted to Lewisham Hospital some six weeks before his death. After a Requiem Mass at the Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Avoca-street, Randwick, the funeral left for the Randwick General Cemetery. And what a big funeral it was! Bayly was survived by his loving wife, Dorothy, and his two daughters, Margaret and Dorothy. And thus after more than sixty years, the famous name of ‘Payten’ disappeared from the Randwick training ranks forever. Payten’s entire estate, which was valued for probate at £19,747 was left to his wife, Dorothy, during her lifetime and thereafter was to be divided among her children.
The popular Payten had enjoyed a wonderful career and had won the Sydney trainers’ premiership in six of his last seven seasons including as much as £33,696 in stakes money in his last full season of 1946-47. Payten passed from the scene at the very top of his game. At the time of his death, he had over thirty horses in training and although his fees were the highest in the land, he never had an empty horsebox for long. Moreover, with Frank Selkrig as his able foreman and a staff of twenty-five, the Botany-street stables were a thoroughly disciplined, professional operation. Horses, stablehands, stableyards and stable gear were invariably clean, clipped and clinical.
Winning percentages from prizemoney for both trainer and jockey were defined in strict contractual terms and Bayly cut no deals with any owner to retain a good galloper in his yard. Payten was professional and he expected his owners to be the same. With the passing of the years and the good life, Payten put on poundage but always dressed elegantly if not snappily, and when doing the rounds of his stable at evensong or meeting with wealthy owners in city clubs, he would be invariably dressed in a comfortable lounge suit. Softly spoken and of a gentle disposition, Bayly Payten was loyal and fair to his owners and staff, who were loyal and fair to him in return.
While the flying Valicare remained arguably his best galloper, as we have seen, there were quite a few other good horses along the way viz. Fidelity, Hesione, Carefree, Feminist, Siren, Caesar, Katanga, Trueness, Sleepy Fox, Evergreen, Havoc, Vigaro, Silver Link and Chaperone. And yet for all the premierships and smart gallopers that emerged from his Botany-street stables, there remains the nagging suspicion that somehow Payten fell short in the races that really mattered. There was no Caulfield Cup or Melbourne Cup. There was no A.J.C. Derby or V.R.C. Derby. There was no Epsom Handicap or Sydney Cup. And Valicare’s Doncaster and Feminist’s Metropolitan were the only times a Payten-trained thoroughbred captured either of those rich handicaps held at Randwick. A glance at Payten’s curriculum vitae reveals that his overwhelming strength lay with the fairer sex and generally two-year-old fillies at that. Katanga was arguably his only genuine weight-for-age horse. Why was it so?
It pays to remember that a rich inheritance such as Bayly’s, has handicaps as well as advantages. Bayly was little more than a boy when his father’s death in 1920 left him in charge of the famous Payten stable and its rich clientele. Old Tom had won every race of importance in the calendar – many of them over and over again – with the notable exception of the Melbourne Cup. That eluded him to the end and seconds with San Fran and Scot Free was the closest he ever came. Some people expected the son to simply take up where the father left off. Many expected Bayly to inherit the experience of half a century, modernise it with his own progressive ideas and go on his merry way as the rich plums of the Australian Turf simply fell into his lap. But the times had changed.
I think that much of the explanation as to why this didn’t happen lies in the type of men for whom Bayly trained. And they were literally a Who’s Who of Australian racing: J. J. Garvan, the Hon. Agar Wynne, Pat Osborne, Colin Stephen, Percy Miller, Sir Samuel Hordern, E. R. Williams, W. A. Dunlop, Hunter White, F. W. Hughes, J. S. Love, F. P. McCabe and George Ryder. A majority, such as Pat Osborne and Colin Stephen, were home breeders who, though they might breed to sell would always retain their best fillies. And while these fillies might be permitted to show their wares in juvenile races, any ideas of chasing rich handicaps with big weights as older horses were largely anathema to their owners who wanted them to reproduce in their own breeding paddocks. Moreover, these were owners that raced to win more than to bet and playing games in a bid to trick the handicapper wasn’t their style. Of course, Bayly Payten’s contribution to the Australian Turf can’t just be measured by training premierships or by high-class racehorses alone. As a decent and kind master to apprentices, he developed such top jockeys as Athol Mulley, Ray Selkrig, Alf Johnson, Milton Sullivan and Ray Carter, who were all indentured to him.
And what became of the famous Botany-street stables originally built by old Tom Payten and extended by Bayly? Within a matter of weeks after Payten’s death in 1948, it was announced that Fred Allsop would take over the establishment. Frank Thompson, the Widden studmaster, bought the stables and sub-leased them to Fred, a third-generation member of a famous Sydney training dynasty, who was following in the footsteps of his father, Dudley, and his grandfather, John. As a boy, Fred had spent much of his time in the Payten stables learning the stable craft and was greatly indulged with instruction from Bayly himself. So, a St Ignatius old boy was being followed by a Scots’ College old boy – how the background and culture of Randwick’s racehorse trainers were a-changing! Indeed, Fred had spent the previous two years since leaving the Air Force and Army Services studying veterinary science at Sydney University. Within three months of taking over the stables, Fred Allsop had trained his first double at Randwick when he won with Lonely and King’s Coin for Frank Thompson and Sir Sydney Snow respectively – both former patrons of Bayly.
Fred Allsop’s gain was Frank Selkrig’s loss. Up to the time of Bayly Payten’s death, Selkrig had worked for him for some nineteen years – nine years as a strapper and ten as foreman following upon the retirement of Jack Moran, who later became a Clerk of the Course. In one five-week period, while Payten lay dying in Lewisham Hospital, Selkrig won nine races with the Payten team of horses including a treble at Randwick. Including yearlings, there were thirty-five horses in the Botany-street boxes at the time of Payten’s death. Frank was one of the few visitors permitted to see Bayly in his final fortnight. Sensing the shadow of his own death, Payten asked a close confidant to make known to pressmen his gratitude for Selkrig’s successful supervision of the stables. Still, fine words butter no parsnips. For within a month, no less than thirty-three of those horses had been transferred out to other trainers including Harry Plant, Fil Allotta, Ted Hush, Charlie Cullen and Stan Lamond as well as Fred Allsop. Yet interestingly, when it came to applications for training licences in October 1948, the A.J.C. granted Frank Selkrig a No. 1 licence, and the youthful Fred Allsop a No. 2 licence. The only Payten owners that showed much faith in Frank Selkrig were W. J. Smith and Sir Sydney Snow, who shared their horses about.
Allsop’s tenure on the corner of Botany-street and Barker-street at Randwick was to last for the best part of fifteen years during which time Fred led in the winners of the 1952 and 1954 A.J.C. Epsom Handicaps in High Law and Connaught respectively, and Beaupa, the winner of the 1955 A.J.C. Metropolitan. Beaupa also went within inches of giving him a Sydney Cup too, but for the head of Sailor’s Guide. It was in 1963 that the venerable old Payten stables were finally pulled down in the frenzy of construction for newfangled petrol stations and motor garages. Such was how progress was measured in those days. Allsop became the first trainer to move into the new stable accommodation being constructed on Randwick racecourse along High street, christening his establishment as ‘Connaught Lodge’, where he remained until his death in April 1974.
The famous old Payten racing silks of ‘black, white sleeves, pale blue cap’ survived Bayly and remained in the family. In October 1951 Fred Allsop trained Pittura, the future dam of Bogan Road to win a race at Rosehill for Jack and Bayly Payten, nephews of the late, great trainer. There were even more resounding echoes of the family name and of bygone racecourse glories for the same colours in the 1967-68 racing season when Jack Payten and his wife raced Alfalfa, a full brother to Bogan Road. A homebred and named after the Canowindra property that had been in the Payten family for years, Alfalfa was a very smart colt trained by Fred Allsop, albeit a bit on the gross side – Alfalfa that is, not Fred. I can remember the first time I saw the colt run, which was at the Randwick and Canterbury two-year-old trials in September 1967. He won each of his heats brilliantly and then went out as the 8/11 favourite in the A.J.C. Breeders’ Plate, only to lose all chance by running off the course rounding the home turn in the race won by Red Pilot. Nonetheless, he developed into one of the best two-year-olds of his year, finishing runner-up in both the S.T.C. Silver Slipper and Golden Slipper Stakes (unsuccessfully protesting against the winner Royal Parma) and running the minor placing in each of the V.R.C. and A.J.C. Sires’ Produce Stakes. Bayly would have been proud!
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