Jefferson Airplane’s wild and psychedelic rock music might be caught up in the time warp of San Francisco’s LSD summers but the in-crowd quip of band co-founder Paul Kantner – “if you can remember anything about the ‘60’s you weren’t really there” – has achieved a life of its own in nostalgic reminiscences about the period. Why do I mention this? Well, I can remember Derby Day at Randwick in 1968 and very clearly – because I really was there. It’s just that I wish I hadn’t been. I made the annual pilgrimage on that Saturday in October believing Always There to be a good thing in the classic and bet accordingly. For weeks I had rioted in the imaginary opulence my winnings would bring; indeed, I was so sanguine as to my expectations that I had purchased myself a new suit and hat. Rather than harbouring any romantic reminiscences about the stylish chestnut and Geoff Lane’s unimaginative ride that day, I still suffer sleep deprivation whenever it comes to mind.
The 1968 renewal of the A.J.C. classic tossed up yet another of those colourful characters that, like flotsam and jetsam of the human tide, seem to blow across the racecourse from time to time. The man in question was Felipe ‘The Babe’ Ysmael, born into one of the wealthiest, elite families in the Philippines and a crony of the corrupt Philippines President, Ferdinand Marcos. Hailing from Quirino province, the Ysmael family had made much of their fortune from steel manufacturing, real estate, timber and logging with their headquarters based on the main Philippines island of Luzon. In the 1965 presidential elections in the Philippines, Felipe Ysmael was said to have donated millions of pesos to the Marcos’ campaign, and, as a reward, was given huge forest concessions in the provinces, 50,000 hectares in Quirino and close to 100,000 hectares in Palawan. Nor did the favours from the Malacanang Palace end there, for Ysmael was able to borrow $US 13.5 million from foreign banks by using as collateral the vast concessions he had received from Marcos that were guaranteed by the Development Bank of the Philippines. Such was how business was done in that part of the world. By the late 1960s and thanks to numerous government concessions, Ysmael’s various companies were employing more than three thousand people and earning well over $US 5 million a year.
It was this sort of wealth that enabled the Filipino to become a true racecourse gambler, and he proved one of the biggest Australia had ever seen. Ysmael first began to take an interest in the Turf when completing his university education in California with visits to Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, but the absence of on-course bookmakers and the all-totalisator environment in the American West didn’t appeal to his aggressive gambling instincts. He tried his hand in the United Kingdom in the early 1960s, but his arrival there coincided with the racecourse reforms instigated as a result of the Peppiatt committee’s report, which saw the introduction of the Betting Levy Bill as the British Government continued to raise betting taxes. It was a climate that was anathema to Ysmael’s dashing tilts at the ring. Having returned to Manila and become president of one of his family’s larger companies, Ysmael Steel Manufacturing, in 1965, he slipped quietly into Melbourne seeking to expand his business further and at the same time test the waters for his self-styled plunges.
For six months or so Ysmael discreetly plied his unique style of betting with Melbourne rails’ bookmakers all the time managing to fly under the media radar. Having checked it out to his satisfaction, he decided to challenge Australian racing head-on, appointing bloodstock agent, Frank Ford, as his Australian racing manager. He authorised him to buy yearlings on his and his friends’ behalf at both the 1967 Wright Stephenson Sales in Melbourne, and a few weeks later at the William Inglis Sales in Sydney. Ford was a natural choice, for as far back as 1954, he had transported an order of forty horses by ship to the Philippines and was well known as a bloodstock agent throughout south-east Asia. In turn, Frank Ford recommended Charlie Waymouth and Grahame Heagney be appointed as Ysmael’s principal Australian trainers although others such as Dick Roden (Randwick), Basil Conaghan (Caulfield) and Dave Shannon (Euroa) also trained some of the team.
Ysmael went to great lengths at the time to mask his substantial financial investment in Australian racing under the pretext of a so-called Asian syndicate of which he was but one member. Others included the likes of Augusto Santos, president of the Prudential Bank in Manila; Sonny Cheong, an importer and exporter; and Harry Malanda, involved in the rice and sugar industry in the Philippines. Some of the characters were real whereas others, such as George Gibbons – who was supposed to be a timber and sugar merchant – proved illusory and were really Ysmael by another name. It was during the Melbourne Yearling Sales in March 1967 that Grahame Heagney and Charlie Waymouth made their first real acquaintance with this intruder who was to become the new explosive force on the Australian Turf.
At a private dinner with Ysmael both Waymouth and Heagney were given first-class airline tickets and requested to fly over to the Philippines to discuss the training of racehorses for the newly-formed syndicate. Grahame Heagney had the higher profile of the pair, having Australia’s glamour racehorse Tobin Bronze in his charge at the time, as well as an imported three-year-old grey colt named Bunratty Castle. Also sheltering in his stables was an unraced son of Latin Lover that would later develop into a dual Melbourne Cup winner under Heagney’s stable foreman, Mick Robbins, after Heagney accepted the offer to train Tobin Bronze in America. But that’s another story. Let’s just say that at the time of the approach from Ysmael, Heagney was holding a handful of aces, even if their full potential at the time wasn’t quite realised. The one drawback to Heagney’s operation was that it was conducted out of Adelaide rather than the hub of the eastern seaboard, although he did maintain a satellite stable at Caulfield.
By comparison, Charlie Waymouth’s Mentone stables at the time seemed a rather pedestrian affair. A tough, pugnacious little man through whom the erratic pulse of life beat strongly, the 36-year-old Waymouth had struggled hard. He didn’t come from a racing background, but because of his size, or lack of it, as a boy, he had often imagined himself in the pigskin. As a youngster, cheeky Charlie was selling newspapers one day when a regular customer who owned racehorses, suggested that he could get him a job in the Caulfield stables of Jack James. Actually, James’s stables were at Bentleigh, and the horses had to be walked the four miles to Caulfield but Waymouth joined up nonetheless. The lad’s first winner with his 7lb allowance came aboard Dawlish at Miner’s Rest in March 1944. The key to Waymouth’s success on the Turf lay in his restless and combative energy and an ability to connect with a good horse at critical moments of his life.
The first manifestation of this remarkable attribute came early on in June 1949 when an 18-year-old apprentice jockey and now indentured to Chas Wilson. Waymouth was invited to partner an unraced two-year-old brown filly by the good imported English stallion, Blank, out of the ordinary race mare, Starr Faithfull, in a pas de deux over six furlongs at Flemington against twenty-five opponents. Trained by Tony Lopes, the filly didn’t do much right that day and finished back in the ruck; however, our young apprentice jockey did nothing wrong. Accordingly, Waymouth retained the mount when the filly resumed two months later in the new season. She was to be a revelation. Chicquita – for that was the filly’s name – proceeded to rattle off eight metropolitan wins in succession that began with the modest Elsternwick Stakes at Caulfield and eventually culminated in the Edward Manifold Stakes, One Thousand Guineas, Wakeful Stakes and V.R.C. Oaks. The young Charlie Waymouth, sporting the ‘light blue jacket, red sash, yellow cap’ was the pilot for six of those victories but missing out on the Oaks when he was unceremoniously jocked off in favour of Scobie Breasley after a controversial performance in the Wakeful.
It had been a heady rise for Waymouth, and while he bridled at Chicquita’s connections impugning his competence when the Oaks arrived, the association had given the young man a taste for both the limelight and the high life. Waymouth was in the race for the apprentices’ title that year after his string of wins on Chicquita but, alas, the month after losing the ride on the filly, Waymouth was outed for six months for pulling a horse at Pakenham. Cheeky Charlie found attractive mounts difficult to come by after that suspension and only rode until he was almost twenty-four when the battle with the scales became too one-sided. For a couple of years, he broke in horses, and then one day resolved to try his hand at training, applying for a licence in the spring of 1955. Once again serendipity played its part. Into the 25-year-old’s stables came a two-year-old filly by Masthead that had been retained by her breeders, the Benyon family of Albury. Registered as Bendrum, Waymouth organised a coup that saw her backed in from 33/1 to 12/1 to land a Juvenile Stakes at Flemington during March 1955.
Hindsight suggested that she was a worthy repository of such faith, for Waymouth trained her to win six races in succession including the 1956 One Thousand Guineas, thereby giving the young horseman a rare double as both jockey and trainer in Caulfield’s signature classic for three-year-old fillies. Getting hold of a classic winner in one’s first season as a trainer is likely to induce a false sense of security, and if Waymouth did succumb to such illusions, he was quickly disabused as the years wore on. Although there would be handy horses along the way such as the likes of Downswept and Rapid Heart, it would be another nine years before Charlie Waymouth got another real good ‘un; but when he did it was with yet another filly, Fire Band, a stylish daughter of Hydrogen. Among a string of other races, Waymouth trained her to win both a Wakeful Stakes and Sandown Guineas. Until this stage of his life, Waymouth’s triumphs on the Turf had been dominated by the fairer sex, and he could have been forgiven for wondering if a classic-winning colt would ever come along.
What, then, changed his prospects? In two words: Always There. The colt that was to give both Charlie Waymouth and the Filipino Fireball their greatest triumph on the Australian Turf was catalogued for sale as Lot No 104, and scheduled to be sold midway through the afternoon of the first day of the 1967 William Inglis Easter Sales at their Newmarket stables in Sydney. The date was Tuesday, 28th March 1967. A flashy chestnut so typical of his sire Pipe of Peace, he was the first living foal of the brilliant two-year-old filly, April Wonder. Trained by a youthful Les Bridge at Randwick for David Chrystal Jr, April Wonder, a precocious daughter of the speed stallion, Newtown Wonder, had finished runner-up in the 1961 Gimcrack Stakes to the erratic Jan’s Image, and later that first season won both the Widden Stakes and Keith Mackay Handicap at Randwick.
Retired to George Ryder’s Woodlands Stud at Denman, her mating with that stud’s most distinguished stallion, Pipe of Peace, seemed natural. After all, Pipe of Peace had been among the best colts of his year in England, winning the prestigious Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in his first season and the following year finishing third in both The Two Thousand Guineas and English Derby. From the moment that his first crop appeared in Australia in 1959, Pipe of Peace had produced a steady stream of good-class gallopers that included the likes of the brilliant juvenile Peace Council and that fine stayer Piper’s Son. This first yearling from April Wonder was in keen demand, and Frank Ford had to bid $13,650 to secure the colt for Ysmael.
I might mention that the Filipino Fireball wasn’t the only new dynamic force throwing his money around at those Inglis Yearling Sales. John Foyster senior, a rutile mining magnate from the N.S.W. far north coast, together with his two sons, Lloyd and John junior, chose those sales to make their first extravagant splash in Australian bloodstock. The Foyster family stunned the sales ring when they commissioned trainer Tommy Smith to acquire on their behalf the most expensive yearling colt of the sales, High Sierra (Wilkes – Blooming) for $39,900. The Foysters also bought the most expensive filly, the future Gentle Ruler (Ruler – Cuddles) for $25,200 – besides some other high-priced lots, such as the $17,850 colt that later raced in the 1968 AJC Derby, Planet Boy. To many, the Foyster phenomenon seemed to be a confirmed case of Chronic Buying Disorder. It was to be a fascinating epoch in Australian racing with the introduction of new and flash money drawn from both domestic and international sources, and it didn’t stop with merely the purchase of bloodstock.
Ysmael, having bought a swag of yearlings during the autumn of 1967, set about investing heavily in one of Victoria’s most famous horse properties. It was The Lodge, a twelve-and-a-half hectare agistment farm, in Dandenong, which he renamed Bahilda Lodge, besides developing another property near the historic township of Euroa at the foot of the Strathbogie Ranges. Frank Ford did most of the bidding for yearlings acquired on Ysmael’s behalf and then afterwards followed Ysmael’s instructions in allocating the horses among his various trainers. When Charlie Waymouth saw the Ysmael draft of yearlings that was on its way to his Mentone stables, including the beautifully-bred Always There, he must have realised that his impetuous journey across the Australian Turf had taken a significant turn for the better. His hour had surely come. Although Waymouth had been training some older horses for Felipe Ysmael during the 1966-67 racing season with mixed success, this team of rising two-year-olds offered glittering prospects.
However, the first time that the Filipino Fireball, in alliance with Charlie Waymouth, hit the headlines on the racecourse it wasn’t with Always There at all. Rather it came at Flemington in early October when, through commission agents, he placed $50,000 on his unraced two-year-old Wilkes colt, Glidealong, one of his fifteen-strong team, backing it into 4/7 favourite for the second division of the Maribyrnong Trial Stakes. The colt had easily won his official Flemington barrier trial and seemed a sound prospect upon which to launch a plunge. Alas, ridden by Geoff Lane, the colt showed speed but found one quicker in the five-furlong scamper, and Glidealong had to settle for second money some two-and-a-half lengths behind Leica Court. There was no such mistake by Ysmael and the Asian syndicate with their next serious plunge. It came in the opening race at Moonee Valley on January 29, 1968. The race was the Matthew Flinders Handicap (5 ½ f) for two-year-old colts and geldings, and Ysmael had entered a stylish chestnut colt by Red Gauntlet named Red Diver.
It might have been the colt’s racecourse debut, but he had been well-trialled in private at places like Yarra Glen and Sandown – and Charlie Waymouth hadn’t been entirely able to cloak some of his impressive home gallops at Mentone. Drawn in gate thirteen with 7 st. 12lb and Kevin Mitchell in the saddle, Red Diver had been quoted at generous prices in overnight betting markets. By way of subterfuge, the stable also had the overnight favourite, Androcles, in the same race. It was a different story as betting unfolded on the course when one of the biggest and best-organised betting coups of the post-war years unfolded as a network of commission agents in Sydney and Melbourne simultaneously backed the colt in from double figures to 1/2! Bill Waterhouse laid a bet of $70,000 to $40,000 Red Diver to Frank Ford; his brother, J. K Waterhouse reportedly laid $87,500 to $50,000 to another member of the syndicate. Red Diver won easily, and it was estimated that Ysmael won around $250,000 in Melbourne and Sydney alone. It wouldn’t be long before the ‘yellow jacket, black sleeves, yellow cap’ of Felipe Ysmael became one of the best-known liveries on the racecourse.
While it was the Mentone stables of Charlie Waymouth that provided most of the artillery for the Asian syndicate to blast the ring that season, it didn’t enjoy a monopoly, and the group’s next major sting came on the first day of May – at Broadmeadow racecourse of all places. The horse in question, Silver Strike, had cost one of the syndicate’s nominal members, Mr Malandra, $8,000 as a Melbourne yearling and was in the Randwick stables of Dick Roden. The cartel placed bets of $115,000 on the horse, including a massive $100,000 credit bet at even money by Frank Ford with rails bookmaker Bill Waterhouse, and duly collected when the colt as a 4/7 favourite trotted up by five lengths in a juvenile handicap over six furlongs. All in all, it was a memorable season for Felipe Ysmael, and his racing cronies for the efforts of Red Diver and Glidealong were to be supplemented by other useful youngsters, in particular, Romantic Miss, a daughter of Prince Poppa that Charlie Waymouth trained to win eight races that season.
It was against this backdrop of spectacular betting success that the career of the best Ysmael galloper in the Waymouth stables unfolded, albeit in somewhat less dramatic fashion. Always There had made his racecourse debut at the Caulfield Spring Meeting when he finished unplaced in the prestigious Gwyn Nursery. The outing taught him all he needed to know about the business of racing and at his next start in the Flemington Stakes on the final day of the 1967 Melbourne Cup carnival, Always There stunned the big crowd when he came in at 33/1. For a stable that in a matter of weeks was to become famous, or rather infamous, for landing big betting coups, their prize colt that day seemed to catch them unawares. After another win at Sandown a week later, Always There was sent for a summer spell.
When the imposing son of Pipe of Peace resumed in early March, it was to win the Trenton Stakes at Caulfield and the following week in the hands of his then regular rider, Kevin Mitchell, he went around in the V.R.C. Sires’ Produce Stakes, just missing a place in the race won by Flying Fable. It was a similar story in the Gibson Carmichael Stakes seven days later. Waymouth kept the colt in work after the big Melbourne autumn meetings, winning a handicap at Sandown before journeying across to Adelaide, where Always There suggested he had the makings of a Derby colt by taking out the S.A.J.C. Sires’ Produce Stakes with six lengths to spare. The horse closed out his juvenile season in mid-June by winning another handicap at Sandown, for the first time in the hands of jockey Geoff Lane, who was beginning to replace Kevin Mitchell as the stable’s first rider.
Always There’s run of juvenile victories was enough to see him rated fifth in that season’s Free Handicap with 9 st. 2lb, three pounds less than the top weight, Black Onyx, a purely sprinting-bred son of the imported Pipe of Peace, trained by Tommy Smith, and the winner of among other races, the Sires’ Produce Stakes at Randwick. Tulloch Lodge boasted a wonderful team of two-year-olds that season. Equal second in the Free Handicap with 1lb less than Black Onyx was Rajah, also trained by Smith at Tulloch Lodge; and Royal Parma, the Golden Slipper Stakes winner. One pound below Always There is sixth place in the Free Handicap was Biscay. Regarded as something of a speedy squib, nonetheless, his brilliant bloodlines would in due course see one of his grandsons win an A.J.C. Derby winner and become one of the great champions of the Australian Turf. But more on that in a later chapter.
As he jetted about south-east Asia overseeing his business interests, Felipe Ysmael could take considerable satisfaction from his first full season on the Australian Turf. Not only had his trainer Charlie Waymouth set an Australian record by winning 27 two-year-old races but three of his horses featured in the Free Handicap that year, for Always There notwithstanding, Red Diver was rated equal seventh and Romantic Miss equal eleventh in the weights. It augured well for Ysmael’s assaults on the racecourse, and the betting ring, in the new season.
Felipe Ysmael now had a stable full of horses enough to keep any number of jockeys busy, but his choice as the first retainer as the new season opened fell upon a 29-year-old heavyweight rider on the comeback trail. The man in question, Geoff Lane, who had spent his apprenticeship years with Mentone trainer Tommy Woodcock of Phar Lap fame, had once been the golden boy of Melbourne racing. Yet as a mere 13-year-old stripling when he first signed his apprenticeship papers, he had never ridden a pony, let alone a thoroughbred racehorse. Naturally gifted, from the moment that he gained his riding permit in March 1954 his progress had been dramatic. Lane shattered all existing Victorian records as an apprentice, taking the junior jockeys’ title five years in succession from 1954-55 to 1958-59 and winning 475 races during the period.
Lane’s resemblance to the film star Alan Ladd saw him become the darling of women racegoers. As if that wasn’t enough: in his first season in the senior ranks, 1959-60, he won that title too, although it would be his last premiership as his weight began to haunt him and curtail his riding opportunities. Increasingly, Lane’s mounts came more in weight-for-age races or high weights in handicaps for men such as Brian Courtney and Ken Hilton, and two of the best such horses he rode during this period were Dhaulagiri and Lord, on whom he won twelve and seventeen races respectively.
In 1963 the one-sided battle of the scales tipped Geoff Lane into retirement from where he embraced a variety of careers that included restaurateur and sports television compere. However, once racing gets into one’s blood is it is hard to ignore. Despite weighing as much as 11 st 2lb in late 1966, careful dieting and a rigorous exercise regimen saw a much-heralded comeback and return to the winner’s circle when Lane partnered Tremendous in a maiden race at Cranbourne. Shortly after that, he established his association with Ysmael and Waymouth, and gallopers like Always There and Romantic Miss guaranteed that the one-time golden boy was back in business. Kevin Mitchell rode Always There when he made his three-year-old seasonal debut at Caulfield when a game second to Bowl King in the Whittier Handicap. However, the reins were reposed in the hands of Geoff Lane when the colt finished brilliantly to seize the Moonee Valley Stakes in his final trial before journeying to Randwick on the morning of the Derby and his date with destiny.
The 1968 A.J.C. Derby field and race conditions are set out in the table below:
A field of fourteen colts and geldings confronted the starter, Ron Swales, for the 1968 renewal of the Randwick classic, with Always There quoted at 7/1 third favourite behind both Royal Account and Tails, who jointly shared the top line in markets in a wide betting race. On paper at least, it seemed the most open Derby since the War. Royal Account, an unfashionably bred son of Billum as a yearling had cost a mere $2,100 at the William Inglis Sales, and was trained at Randwick by Albert McKenna; he owed his favouritism to the powerful finish he had produced when a surprise winner of the Rosehill Guineas. Tails, was a fascinating specimen, a son of the 1952 Melbourne Cup winner, Dalray, a stallion that Tails’ owner, the Hon. C. E. Barnes, stood at his famous Canning Downs Stud, near Warwick, Queensland. Tails, a descendant on his distaff side from the great Queensland mare, Molly’s Robe, was the winner of three races in Brisbane and during the winter carnival in early June had finished runner-up behind Rajah in the QTC Sires’ Produce Stakes. The colt was trained for the Derby by H. M. Phillip of Queensland.
Sharing the third line of betting were Rajah Sahib, Wilton Park and Planet Boy. Rajah Sahib was a New Zealand-bred colt and the winner of three races as a juvenile in his homeland including the A.R.C. Wills Championship Stakes. Owner Bill Stanley subsequently had to part with $40,000 to acquire him from Kiwi trainer, Eric Ropiha. Now trained by Tommy Hill at Randwick, Rajah Sahib made his Australian debut when third in the Warwick Stakes and at his latest appearance finished strongly to be runner-up in the Rosehill Guineas. Wilton Park was a likely staying type by Le Filou trained by Morrie Anderson at Rosehill. The colt owed his market prominence to the fact that he had raced throughout the winter, was supremely fit, and at his latest outing had won the Kembla Grange Classic Trial over the mile-and-a-half. Planet Boy had hardly justified his extravagant price as a yearling; however, he was a last-start Rosehill winner of a restricted race over the Derby distance.
Gooree King, trained by Bart Cummings for the Foyster family, was an interesting runner. At 12,000 guineas he had easily topped the prices at the New Zealand National Yearling Sales conducted at Trentham in January 1967. A half-brother to Court Prince, who had been well fancied for the Derby the year before, Gooree King’s only win had come in a poor midweek maiden on debut at Canterbury in February. However, in his final Derby trial at Moonee Valley a fortnight before, he had finished runner-up in the Cumberland Handicap over the mile. Tulloch Lodge had two representatives in the race, Immediate and Rajah. While the latter had won both the A.J.C. Champagne Stakes and Q.T.C. Sires’ Produce Stakes at two and the Hobartville Stakes at three, he was not expected to have the stamina to trouble the better-fancied runners and as such the relatively poorly performed Immediate, who was still a maiden but bred on staying lines, was the more favoured of the pair.
The Derby was a genuine test of stamina with pace on throughout the race. Always There was drawn in four and might have enjoyed the run of the race. Instead, given the early speed, Geoff Lane was content to drop the colt out to ninth and look for cover until the half-mile. Meanwhile, Immediate led them a merry chase for the first mile from Broker’s Tip and Rajah, with the rest of the field fairly strung out. Hilton Cope didn’t allow Wilton Park the luxury of racing at the rear of the field as he had done at his previous starts and kept his mount reasonably handy in seventh place. Coming down the High Street side of the course the pace really quickened and Lane, alive to the risk, moved Always There smartly into fifth place on the fence, with Rajah Sahib going well on his outside.
From the moment the field swept around the home turn, Always There was poised to make his challenge, provided the horses in front moved off the fence, and he got some galloping room. Alas, the opportunity never arose and the colt copped a buffeting – striking the inside running rail twice in the run down the straight. It was a ride from Melbourne’s golden boy not so much of buckle and swash as thud and blunder. It turned out that the man with the surest compass that afternoon was Hilton Cope aboard Wilton Park. Never further back than seventh, when Wilton Park was pulled out to make his run in the straight, the horse still had a fair amount of ground to make up. But Cope could smell blood at the furlong and the son of Le Filou responded generously to a sweet run between horses that surely won him the race. Although hanging in towards the inside fence, Hilton and Wilton managed to beat Selkrig and Royal Account by the narrowest of margins.
Apart from the favourite, Royal Account was the unlucky runner in the race, finishing brilliantly from tenth on the home turn to fail by the narrowest of margins. Indeed, the son of Billum had the race in the shadows of the winning post but hung in towards Wilton Park compelling Selkrig to check his riding. The finish itself was quite deceptive with opinions divided as to the winner. Ken Howard, then nearing the end of his race-broadcasting career, suffered one of those days of which commentators’ despair. Howard’s famous colourful catchphrase when predicting a photo-finish result after a race but before the official judge had declared his verdict was: “It’s London to a brick on…”
Twice during that Saturday afternoon, Ken managed to lose London for the price of that brick – and, as misfortune would have it, the two moments came in the feature races of the day, the Derby and the Epsom. Afterwards, the three metropolitan race clubs in Melbourne discontinued his Sydney race calls. It was the beginning of the ignominious end for arguably Australia’s most famous racecaller.
The official photograph of the Derby finish showed that Wilton Park had won by one-eighth of an inch with the hapless Always There three-quarters of a length away third. Rajah Sahib was officially fourth, not quite managing to stay the classic distance. The Queensland colt, Tails, prejudiced his chance through greenness and finished a moderate fifth – a performance that belied his marvellous staying career as an older horse that was to include dual victories on the same course in the A.J.C. Metropolitan Handicap besides a Doomben Cup and other great races, and saw him retire from the Turf as second only behind Tulloch on the Australian prizemoney list. Still, all that lay in the future. On that October afternoon, all honours resided with Wilton Park.
Getting the mount on Wilton Park had been a matter of luck for jockey Hilton Cope, who gave the colt a brilliant ride. Cope had won the Canterbury Guineas on Broker’s Tip and hoped to retain that mount in the Derby but George Moore exercised his option to unseat him. Given Cope’s availability and the need for a strong rider for the occasionally wayward Wilton Park, Morrie Anderson didn’t hesitate to make the booking. It was only the 25-year-old jockey’s third mount in the classic, and he would ride in the race just twice more before increasing weight forced him to seek an extension to his career in Europe. An impressive young man, he had spent his apprenticeship first in the Kensington, and later the Rosehill, stables of Vic Thompson.
A champion show rider as a boy, Cope enjoyed outstanding success as a claiming apprentice and had finished dux of the A.J.C. apprentices’ school in 1960. The same year as a 17-year-old, he had stolen the A.J.C. Metropolitan Handicap with a dashing ride on the 16/1 outsider, Red Wind for Rosehill trainer Reg Mills. In so doing he became only the second apprentice since the War to take the race following Jack Eaves success on Murray Stream in 1947. Two days after finishing his apprenticeship in March 1964 Cope had the good fortune to win the A.J.C. Oaks on Jane Hero for his former master. However, his years in the senior ranks had proved none too easy after that – particularly given his weight difficulties which saw him largely restricted to heavyweight mounts. Nonetheless, Cope’s stint of European riding in 1973 resulted in him winning a race for H.M. The Queen at the now-defunct Baldoyle course in Ireland.
Upon retiring from the saddle, the following year, at the age of thirty-one, Hilton Cope purchased Kelvinside Stud, a 546-hectare property situated near Aberdeen in the Hunter, from Ted Swinson. The estate had once been part of the original Segenhoe holding, which had been developed by convict labour. The large, sprawling homestead was built in 1898. One of Cope’s closest mentors since his teenage years had been the studmaster Tom Flynn of the Oakleigh Stud, and Cope had usually spent his school holidays (and the ‘holidays’ that A.J.C. stewards subsequently imposed) there at Widden studying stud management. Thus the young man was ready for Kelvinside when he acquired it and he proceeded to develop the property into a first-class agistment and breeding farm, which was eventually purchased by Darley in 2002.
The Derby result was a victory for the family of John William Clinton of Somerset Park, Narellan, but a victory tinged with sadness nonetheless, because the patriarch of the family and the man who had chosen Wilton Park as a yearling had passed away before the colt had ever made it to the racecourse. John Clinton had been a highly successful businessman, having made a fortune out of coal interests on extensive land holdings around the beautiful Burragorang Valley, some sixty miles southwest of Sydney. The Clinton family had opened the first mine in the Valley, named Camden Colliery, as far back as September 1930. It was a shaky start, but World War II gave a fillip to the industry and during the years 1939-1945 the Clintons’ Nattai-Bulli colliery lost no production at all in a total war effort, with their coal being carted by motor lorry to the Narellan railway siding. As the industry grew during the post-War period so, too, did the Clinton family fortune.
It was this burgeoning wealth that enabled John Clinton to indulge his lifelong passion for horse racing, which, incidentally, wasn’t restricted to thoroughbreds but also embraced standardbreds. Indeed, he owned the prolific Harold Park winner, Little Maori, a former Inter-Dominion prospect trained for him by Laurie Moulds. Still, the Turf was his first love and during the 1940s and 1950s, John Clinton enjoyed a run of success with the progeny of the imported French stallion, Genetout, culminating in the good sprinter Gene San with whom he won the 1961 A.J.C. Villiers Stakes with Ray Selkrig in the saddle. John Clinton had put Gene San to a number of his own mares just a few months before. Another good horse to carry the coal mine owner’s colours during this period was Heroic Victory, a son of Hua, with whom he won the 1957 June Stakes at Randwick and the 1961 N.J.C. Newmarket. Both of these gallopers were trained by the former Rosehill horse-breaker H. T. Sherd on a private track that the Clintons had laid out at their Somerset Park estate at Narellan.
During the 1960s and by now retired from active business, John Clinton began spending ever greater sums on bloodstock, having transferred his team to the Rosehill stables of that shrewd horseman, Morrie Anderson. Clinton had raced the promising galloper Auto Filou, another son of Le Filou, and the horse had started one of the favourites in the 1966 Derby only to finish second last. However, Bart Cummings thought Auto Filou was Cups’ material after that Derby and tried to buy him for one of his stable clients. Clinton’s most extravagant purchase, however, came with the 21,000 guineas he splurged on Lancashire Lad at auction in January 1966. The two-year-old colt, a son of Rego, had cost 3700 guineas as a yearling when bought by Harold Riley for his original owner, Eli Rose, and had won his only start before the A.J.C. committee announced that it would no longer accept nominations in Rose’s name, thereby prompting the sale.
Lancashire Lad proved an expensive fiasco for Clinton, with the horse winning first-up at Rosehill a month after but was still eligible for novice class two years later. It was with this instructive lesson in the perils of buying tried bloodstock in mind that John Clinton reverted to past habits and perused the yearling sales catalogue for the 41st Annual New Zealand National Sales to be held at Trentham in January 1967. Morrie Anderson attended those sales with a sizeable commission to buy Clinton a likely staying type, and Lot No. 128 caught his fancy on the first day. Anderson was to buy nine yearlings during the two-day sale, but the 4200 guineas he paid to get Wilton Park for old John Clinton was easily more than double the price he paid for any of the others. Sadly, the 81-year-old racing veteran never lived to see his hopes vindicated dying in Camden Hospital less than six months later. When Wilton Park won the Derby, he did so in the interests of the executors of John Clinton’s estate – his sons Alan and Ernest. Immediately after the Derby presentation, the owners were invited by the A.J.C. committee to drink champagne in the committee rooms. Alan Clinton asked: “What about Mr Anderson?” It is a measure of the latent snobbery still prevailing within the club that the pleasure of Morrie Anderson’s company, despite the circumstances, was declined.
An athletic bay colt, Wilton Park was a late October foal by the champion New Zealand stallion Le Filou out of the good race mare Fluent and was offered for sale by breeder Tom Hogan of the Fencourt Stud at Cambridge. Le Filou, a well-performed and consistent racehorse in England and France, was only twice unplaced in seven starts. As a two-year-old, he won the Longchamp Prix de Saint Patrick (7f) and ran second in the Ascot Cornwallis Stakes; while the following season he won both Newbury Ormonde Stakes (12f) beating Dust Devil and Colonist II, and the Epsom Carew Stakes (10f). Bred in France in 1946, Jack Macky obtained him for a modest 500 guineas sterling as a stallion for his picturesque Pirongia Stud, nestling at the foot of the majestic Pirongia Mountain, Te Awamutu, in the fertile Waikato region of New Zealand. In retrospect, he was a rare bargain, although at the time of his sale his French outcross pedigree (Vatellor – Fileuse by Casterari) was not particularly fashionable.
The stallion covered his initial book of mares in the spring of 1952 and the first of his progeny to win good races were Count Filou (1957 Avondale Stakes) and Prince Filou (1957 Timaru Cup). After that, Le Filou continued to produce a host of high-class stayers including Big Filou, Bon Filou, Fileur, Fair Filou, Peterman and Skint Dip. The young man who ultimately became inextricably linked with the progeny of Le Filou was Bart Cummings, just then setting out his training stall. Cummings won two of his first three Melbourne Cups with Le Filou offspring, viz. Light Fingers and Red Handed; while The Dip, a full brother to Light Fingers was arguably the trainer’s first top galloper. In the years that followed, among the sons and daughters of Le Filou that Bart Cummings prepared to win important races on the Australian Turf were Big Filou, Fileur, Fulmen, Gay Poss and Voleur. All told, Le Filou sired 46 individual stakes winners of 113 stakes races. Sadly, Wilton Park was to be his only A.J.C. Derby winner and Le Filou died at his owner’s Pirongia Stud from a heart attack at the age of 24 in November 1969.
Fluent, the dam of Wilton Park was a daughter of the English stallion and Ascot Gold Cup winner, Finis, and the winner herself of seven races including the Marlborough Cup (11f) and the Poverty Bay T.C. President’s Handicap. Moreover, she was a full sister to the good New Zealand stayer, Finito, winner of £22,261 and races such as the Fei J.C. Feilding Jubilee Cup, W.R.C. Handicap and the Q.T.C. Barnes Stakes as well as being runner-up in both the Sydney and Brisbane Cups. Fluent had already thrown two useful gallopers before Wilton Park in Mister Jekyll and Fey, winners of restricted races at Eagle Farm and Woodville respectively. It was a pedigree for stamina that held the colt in good stead in a testing Derby. Wilton Park had made his racecourse debut at Rosehill in November 1967 but only broke his maiden status the following June at his fifth start, when a surprise 50/1 winner of a restricted seven-furlong handicap at Rosehill with just 7 st. 4lb in the hands of Ron Quinton. In an arduous preparation, Wilton Park was having his seventh start of the season in the Derby.
The Derby-winning trainer, 60-year-old Morrie Anderson, was one of those blunt, irascible characters of the Australian Turf whose nature had been tempered and hardened through the tough years of the Depression; and his journey to the top of his profession had been no easy ride. Born in August 1908 at Young, in the southwest region of southern N.S.W., Morrie was the son of a successful jumps jockey who later turned his hand to training while at the same time running a hotel at Young. The roles of an innkeeper and part-time horse-trainer often combined in those days when country hotels enjoyed extensive stabling. As such the young boy’s initiation to the Turf came early in life as he served as both stable hand and apprentice in his father’s modest stables. Morrie Anderson’s brief career in the saddle was effectively over by the time he was sixteen when his weight quickly climbed to nine stone. After that, the lad served as his father’s foreman until he reached the age of twenty-one. The family relocated to Rosehill at the beginning of the 1923-24 racing season, taking lodgings at the Commercial Hotel, Parramatta, before eventually settling at stables in Eleanor St, Rosehill, where just on thirty years later Jack Montgomery was to prepare Bogan Road.
As soon as he reached his majority, Morrie Anderson was given his permit to train out of the Rosehill premises; his first feature win came in the 1936 Summer Cup at Randwick, surviving a protest, with Sir Ross, a Rossendale gelding he’d purchased for 110 guineas as a yearling from the Cullengoral Stud at Gulgong. Sir Ross, a horse that Anderson owned in partnership put the young trainer’s name before the sporting public when he later finished runner-up in the 1937 Sydney Cup and then won the City Tattersall’s Cup the following year. The war years disrupted Anderson’s promising start in stables, and he assisted the war effort working in a tool-manufacturing factory while training just three horses on the side.
The horse that resurrected Anderson’s career after the war was Homeleigh Dick. Already the winner of the 1946 N.J.C. Cameron Handicap when Anderson took him over, the young Rosehill trainer prepared the son of Emborough to win the same race twice more. Mardi Tout, a useful handicapper that landed some good bets for Anderson in the early ‘fifties, was the other horse that advertised Anderson’s horsemanship. It was no accident that when Anderson came to occupy the stylish home and stable block that Harry Plant built opposite Rosehill racecourse, Anderson re-christened the establishment ‘Homeleigh Tout’ after the two gallopers that he regarded as most responsible for elevating him to the first rank of racehorse trainers.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Morrie Anderson began to attract both well-heeled clients and fine-legged thoroughbreds. Gentle Lu, a New Zealand Oaks winner was sent across the Tasman for Anderson to train successfully, while in 1952 Anderson prepared French Echo for Simon Voet to win the A.J.C. Champagne Stakes and the following season the Doomben Cup. Four seasons later Anderson trained the expensive Gay Sierra, the highest-priced yearling of his year sold in New Zealand, to win the A.J.C. Sires’ Produce Stakes and top the Free Handicap for the same owner. In June 1956 following Gay Sierra’s brilliant performances, Anderson was elevated to a No. 1 licence, although he continued to train at Rosehill. The 1960s were to prove the most rewarding of Anderson’s training career. In 1964 he trained that good stayer Piper’s Son to win a string of staying races for the Puen Buen studmaster, Bill Tyler, including The A.J.C. Metropolitan and the S.T.C. Cup, and it was on the latter occasion that Anderson trained his first metropolitan treble.
Alas, for Anderson’s extravagant hopes with Wilton Park, the horse came to grief a furlong and a half after the start of the 1968 Melbourne Cup and the injuries sustained effectively blighted his career. Although the horse did resume racing in April 1969 with the Brisbane Cup as his mission, he failed to regain form during that Brisbane campaign and was again sent to the spelling paddock. Unfortunately, while spelling Wilton Park bowed both front tendons and it seemed his racecourse career had finished for good. The horse was given his chance as a stallion at a small stud near Coonabarabran. However, after two years at stud where he was hardly rushed with mares, Wilton Park was returned to the Rosehill stables of Morrie Anderson by the Clinton family for one last campaign. This comeback proved both valedictory and bittersweet. Horses rarely come back after bowing one tendon, let alone two, and so it proved with Wilton Park whose front legs gave way after just three more races. However, the effort to get the seven-year-old stallion back to the track wasn’t entirely wasted, for he did manage to land a modest betting sting when easily winning a Wyong handicap in August 1972. Returned to permanent stud duties, our 1968 Derby hero failed to sire anything of note.
Despite the travails associated with Wilton Park for Morrie Anderson, the Clinton family were to be his luckiest clients. In 1971 Anderson was to train Latin Knight for them and not only win both the A.J.C. Sires’ Produce Stakes and the Rosehill Guineas; but as we shall see, also finish runner-up in a controversial A.J.C. Derby. Morrie Anderson’s last big race winner was that fine New Zealand stayer, Apollo Eleven, which he trained to win the 1973 Sydney Cup. Just a couple of months after that triumph Morrie Anderson surrendered his licence, unable and unwilling to endure the pain of a bone malformation in his right leg that after an unsuccessful series of operations had virtually rendered him immobile. I might mention as an aside that Morrie Anderson’s good fortune with horses also extended to harness-racing and he was responsible for breeding the great giant, Apmat, raced in the ownership of his wife, and unlucky to lose the 1960 Inter-Dominion championship in Sydney. The pacer took his name from the racehorse that had given 14-year-old Morrie his first mount in Sydney – at Moorefield Racecourse on November 3, 1923.
The Derby was just one highlight of the four-day A.J.C. Spring Meeting. The outstanding achievement of the meeting surely belonged to Australia’s leading trainer Tommy Smith, who trained a record twelve winners over the four days. While his two Derby candidates had underperformed, it wasn’t something that could be said for the rest of his stable and included among his triumphs was the Epsom-Metropolitan double with Speed of Sound and Wiedersehen. Including minor placings, the stable won prizemoney of $91,540. George Moore with six wins was the leading jockey at the meeting. The overall attendance was a disappointing 97,221, which was 14,095 down on the previous year. When one considers that as many as 152,844 attended the A.J.C. Spring Meeting just four years earlier, the dramatic fall-off in racecourse attendance should have been ringing alarm bells. Nonetheless, the 1968 Randwick spring meeting didn’t lack for glamour, either local or international. Numbered among the attendees was the glamorous Madeleine Hartog-Bel of Peru, the reigning Miss World.
Whither Felipe Ysmael, Geoff Lane, Charlie Waymouth and Always There, after the fiasco at Randwick? The answer came on the first day of the Flemington Spring Meeting. In the Victoria Derby I drew upon the ancient principle of stoicism – that of constancy in tribulation – and once again reposed my faith in Always There, and, to a lesser extent, Geoff Lane. To thyself be true and good may yet come of misfortune. And so, it proved to be. Whatever Geoff Lane’s shortcomings and unfamiliarity with the Derby trip at Randwick no such issues marred his abilities navigating the mile-and-a-half at Flemington. Upon the right horse, it was a journey that he had often rendered with dazzling virtuosity. Lane had won successive Victoria Derbies on New Statesman and Coppelius in 1961 and 1962 and had enjoyed even greater success in the Oaks over the same course having won the fillies’ classic three times, on Amarco (1957), Lady Sybil (1960) and Chosen Lady (1967).
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Always There’s Victoria Derby was the rather generous starting price of 9/4 considering just how superior he had seemed at Randwick but for his inability to get a clear passage in the final furlong. The reason for what seemed bookmaking philanthropy was that another of the A.J.C. Derby field had struck a sensational patch of form in the weeks since that contest. Rajah Sahib had brilliantly won both the Caulfield Guineas and W.S. Cox Plate, which saw him go to the post for the Victoria Derby as a joint-favourite with Always There. Unlike the sticky imbroglio at Randwick, Geoff Lane this time spurned the dangerous favour of an inside passage and, in an all-Victorian finish, swept down the outside of the field to win by a neck from the fast-finishing Vanishing, with Crewman a length away third. A week later Always There confirmed his reputation as the finest three-year-old in the land when he came back in distance and, again in the hands of Geoff Lane, took out the prestigious Sandown Guineas defeating the V.R.C. Oaks heroine, Double Steel, by a neck.
Always There’s Melbourne spring campaign proved to be the high-water mark of Felipe Ysmael’s fortunes on the Australian Turf. Victorian racing authorities had been monitoring his betting and racing activities with increasing misgivings. The day of reckoning came at Moonee Valley on Saturday, December 21, 1968. The race in question was the Second Hollymount Handicap, the second race on the card at 12.35 pm. Follow Me, a Coronation Boy colt owned by Ysmael and trained by Waymouth was having his first start. Costing $11,000 as a yearling, he had finished seventh in a Flemington barrier trial, nineteen days before at his only public gallop. It hardly seemed appropriate form to be installed as an even-money favourite; but he was – mainly on the strength of certain Ysmael wagers, only to blow to 6/4 when another colt, Dalthing, also owned by Ysmael and supported by him in the ring to the tune of $21,600, firmed into favouritism.
As it transpired neither horse won the race, which went to High Calibre, while Follow Me ran an inglorious eleventh in a field of thirteen in the hands of jockey George Hope. Stewards, under the chairmanship of Jim Ahern, subsequently opened an inquiry into the betting fluctuations and the colt’s performance with Hope being charged with riding “in such a manner as not to permit the colt to run on its merits”. The fat was now in the fire. Although Ysmael argued that the colt had myocarditis and suffered a heart block before the race, the V.R.C. committee ultimately remained impassive to his appeal, and the Filipino Fireball was extinguished together with Waymouth and Hope in January 1969 for two years. The disqualification was to be the cul-de-sac of George Hope’s ambitions as a jockey, and in a sense, when Ysmael and Waymouth went out of Australian racing for two years, so too did jockey, Geoff Lane. Attracting fewer mounts as the months went by Lane once again saw his weight ballooning, and he ended his Australian career in 1971 when he accepted an offer to ride in Hong Kong where the minimum weight was a more generous 8 st. 13lb. Lane ended his jockey days there and later became a racehorse trainer and steward in the former English colony before moving to Macau to continue his training career.
The Ysmael disqualification became something of a cause celebre in Australian racing at a time when the sport was still clinging to the last vestiges of a time-hallowed tradition and respectability that money, whether in the form of sponsorship dollars or the activities of high-rolling gamblers, couldn’t corrupt it. In racing circles, it was widely believed beforehand that Ysmael’s appeal to the Victoria Racing Club would be successful. The Australian Turf couldn’t afford to offend such a profligate source of wealth as the Asian influx proffered, or at least so went the conventional wisdom. It was a courageous declaration by the V.R.C. committee under the chairmanship of Sir Ross Grey-Smith. In their collective assessment, a man’s willingness to spend a million dollars and more on bloodstock did not entitle him to a special rule book. In a little over two years, the Filipino Fireball had spent prodigiously on bloodstock, bet in the tens of thousands and introduced a coterie of Asian cohorts to the ways of Australian racing. But it all counted for nothing in the end. While certain bookmakers and bloodstock breeders may have rued the V.R.C. committee’s decision, the vast majority of racegoers remained unmoved, if, albeit curious, regarding the deliberations. The truth was that Australian racing administrators had a history of distrusting big gamblers, and had long regarded their existence as unhealthy for the sport.
The Sydney racing journalist Pat Farrell writing in the ‘Daily Mirror’ observed: “Personally, I find myself almost indifferent to the fact that Ysmael is banished from racing in Australia for the next two years. By throwing out the case, the V.R.C. committee agreed that its stewards had a tidy case. There are many people who disagree, but that is always the way with major litigation in racing. Ysmael, though, merits some form of commendation for setting what I bet is a world record of its kind. According to whether you accept his story on his betting on Follow Me’s race or the V.R.C.’s interpretation of some aspects of it, the Filipino Fireball lost between $18,000 and $34,600 on the event. Surely no racing man in history has lost so much on one race and later found himself disqualified for two years for being a party to alleged malpractice. We’ve reached a notable milestone in racing administration when a man can offer uncontested proof that he bet $13,000 on his own horse and still be charged as a party to the horse being pulled up.”
For Ysmael, a man who closely guarded his privacy and remained highly sensitive to even favourable publicity, the stigma of disqualification cut to his very soul. Accustomed to a privileged position of power in Philippine society, he came to realise that Australia operated by a different set of rules. Although he threatened to take his appeal to the Victorian Supreme Court and beyond nothing ever came of the threat. The disqualification meant that a ban prevented his horses from racing for two years unless they were sold to other owners or taken to certain parts overseas. The Australian sporting press speculated freely on the likely courses open to the Asian syndicate given the imbroglio. Ysmael, however, rendered the speculation moot by his own precipitous action. Without waiting for the decision of the V.R.C. committee as to his appeal, Ysmael announced his decision to liquidate his Australian racing interests, likewise a number of his Asian racing cronies whom he had induced to invest in Australian bloodstock. The question that then gripped Australian racing was: just how much Always There would bring at public auction? Up until then the record price for a thoroughbred sold at auction in Australia was 32,000 guineas, the amount realised by the stallion Ruler – a son of Nasrullah, when auctioned by Ferd Calvin during July 1965. Before Ruler, Shannon held the record.
The much-vaunted dispersal sale of the Ysmael bloodstock took place on Friday, January 31, 1969, at the saleyards of the Melbourne bloodstock firm, Wright-Stephenson’s. Buyers and agents from all around Australia and New Zealand converged on the Victorian capital. Amid a frenzy of media attention, Ysmael and his associates had listed sixty-two horses for disposal although the principal player and disgraced gambler had himself taken his bruised vanity and ego and temporarily returned to the Philippines. Included among the prospective buyers was the famous English jockey, Lester Piggott. The proceedings, at least insofar as the Ysmael bloodstock was concerned, was nothing short of a fiasco.
Ysmael slapped ridiculously high reserves on his horses, and, as lot after lot, was passed in at the Flemington stables, the large crowd responded with boos and hisses. The bidding on Always There was raised as high as $300,000 – a remarkable price – but not enough to tempt our man from the Philippines who had listed the colt with a $400,000 reserve. Among the many others that failed to meet their reserve that day was a two-year-old filly named Hello Love, a daughter of Adamastor. A maiden after only three appearances on the racecourse although placed at both Randwick and Rosehill, she was passed in at $16,000 having cost only $3,400 as a yearling. An injury prevented Hello Love from ever racing again, but a later dalliance in the breeding barn would see her son involved in a particularly sensational A.J.C. Derby some ten years later.
Of the total horses that Ysmael and his confreres had listed, only ten lots were knocked down that day with Silver Strike realising $13,000 and The Monk $10,000, although the real star of the show was a two-year-old brown colt by Alcimedes that had originally cost $16,500 as a yearling in New Zealand. Registered as Divide and Rule, he had twice sported Ysmael’s colours when unplaced in unsuitably short juvenile handicaps. The public might not have been impressed with the colt at this stage of his development, but Dick Roden, who had trained him for Ysmael, certainly was. At that memorable dispersal sale Roden bid up $35,000 of his own money to secure possession, and we shall see the results of that speculation in our very next chapter.
A second attempt at dispersing some of the Ysmael bloodstock occurred in July 1969 through William Inglis and Sons when among others, Red Diver was sold to Tommy Smith on behalf of the Foyster family and Dr H. Catchlove for $11,000. Always There, however, was to enjoy a rather curious career in the wake of his owner’s disqualification. Steadfastly refusing to sell the colt despite lucrative offers, Always There was off the scene for some months before being sent to America to race. The colt’s stint in the northern hemisphere was largely disappointing although he did win one race and was placed in six others from his fourteen starts, thereby earning an additional $21,295 to go with his $61,240 Australian stakes money. Retired to stud duties in 1973, Always There was repatriated to Australia to stand as a stallion, firstly at Mr S. W. Defina’s Malabar Park Stud, Avenel, Victoria, and later at the Alchera Stud, Mudgee. His only two stakes winners were Chance Always (Q.T.C. Queensland Cup) and Mansion Downs (T.T.C. Tasmanian Stakes).
What became of Felipe Ysmael following his two-year disqualification? After a return to the Philippines until the unwanted publicity subsided, Ysmael requested President Marcos for some form of appointment to Australia that would accord him diplomatic privileges. An ambassadorship was mooted but refused by the Australian Government, and it wasn’t until July 1970 that the Philippines announced that Ysmael would act as a roving trade envoy based in Australia. At least, he had got a foot in the door, and the following year, despite a lack of enthusiasm from the McMahon Government, Ysmael was promoted to economic attaché at the Philippines Embassy in Canberra with all the perquisites that position entailed. The promotion also coincided with the ending of Ysmael’s disqualification; his two-year absence from Australian racecourses having been served, he was free to run horses on Australian racecourses from January 3rd, 1971. During his interregnum, Ysmael had retained ownership of more than a dozen fillies and mares that he had withdrawn from his 1969 disposal sale, and these had been booked to many of the top sires in Australia. While Ysmael failed to renew his professional acquaintance with Waymouth, he did so enthusiastically with Grahame Heagney.
Together with some of his homebreds and the occasional import, such as Cindy’s Son, a five-year-old son of Sir Gaylord that he had first bought as a yearling at the Saratoga sales in the United States, Ysmael invested in a number of yearlings during the autumn of 1971. Two, in particular, were to bring the Ysmael name before the public once again. Make Mine Roses, a brilliant daughter of Romantic that Heagney had bought on Ysmael’s behalf at the Adelaide sales for $7,000, was the best of them. Unbeaten at her first four starts, she went to the post as the 7/4 favourite for the 1972 Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield only to disappoint. The other two-year-old that was the carry the Ysmael colours with some distinction that season was Carnation For Me, a son of Red Rumour that Heagney bought for $6,250 as a yearling. The day in February 1972 that Carnation For Me won the Mollison Stakes at Flemington, Make Mine Roses won the Talindert Stakes on the same card, giving the once-disgraced Ysmael a prized double that would have been the envy of most owners.
However, unlike the days of his first incarnation on the Australian Turf, his second coming was decidedly more circumspect, Ysmael absenting himself from the racecourse on most occasions when he had runners, including the day of that notable double at Flemington. Ysmael remained in Australia with his wife Hildegarde, a former world-class ice skater, and his seven children, until 1975 when he returned to the Philippines. It coincided with the beginning of the decade that saw the unravelling of the Marcos regime. However, long before Marcos’s fall from power in February 1986, Ysmael had run afoul of the administration. A broken and dispirited man, the one-time Filipino Fireball died of a heart attack in July 1984.
The ghost of Charlie Waymouth was not to be laid quite so easily. His life on the Turf more closely paralleled that of a game of snakes and ladders, and he spent the months of his disqualification as the main buyer for Arundel Farm, which supplied racehorses to Hong Kong and Indonesia. In November 1970 the V.R.C. lifted his disqualification early, granting Waymouth a permit to train. Unwilling to prepare more than a dozen horses or so after he resumed, Waymouth struggled for a decade to get a decent animal. Ysmael never renewed his patronage with the stable and many prospective owners avoided the cynical, aggressive Mephistophelean character that had been so badly tainted by the Follow Me affair. These were the locust years.
Of course, there were occasional glints of light such as the likes of Special Boy, Convene and Sentosa; and when the Hon. Charles Gawith gave him Big Philou to train after the latter’s break with Bart Cummings. Waymouth trained that horse to fill the minor placing in the 1971 Caulfield Cup. But such moments were to prove false dawns. However, those that considered Waymouth had touched his high-water mark with Always There were to be mistaken. Charlie was nothing if not a survivor, and if clients wouldn’t beat a path to his door, it seemed that he would have to buy his own horses to train. Following upon the closure and subdivision of Mentone’s training track for housing in 1972, Charlie, together with his wife, Dawn, and four sons, relocated to Balnarring on the Mornington Peninsula. It was a 25-acre property and eventually had its own 1000-metre training track and stabling for up to 35 horses. The training operation by now was very much a family concern, but that one good horse still proved elusive.
The turn in fortune’s wheel finally came at the 1981 Melbourne Yearling Sales when an exceptional strapping colt by the sprinting sire Brave Lad caught his eye. The colt’s third dam was Mintaway, a class daughter of Orgoglio, who had won the 1959 V.R.C. Oaks. Waymouth scraped together $5,000 and bought the colt, later selling half to one of his few stable clients at the time. Charlie’s only worry with this bloke was getting to the bank on time. Registered as Rancher, the chestnut colt was to be the juvenile sensation of the season, remaining unbeaten in eight starts as a two-year-old and culminating in a glorious triumph in the Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield with Charlie’s jockey son, Norman, doing all of the riding honours. Yet even in the full flush of Rancher’s victories, Charlie Waymouth’s combative energy wasn’t to be contained. After Rancher beat Grosvenor in the Blue Diamond Prelude, the cantankerous horseman became embroiled in a sledging contest with the runner-up’s owner, Geoff Tobias, and the pair had to be separated by a club official.
The subsequent $500 fine for unseemly conduct hardly made a dent in Rancher’s earnings. The following season, after winning the Ascot Vale Stakes and chalking up earnings of $225,750, but failing against older sprinters, Rancher was sold to John Messara and a syndicate of stud farms including the Middlebrook Park, Edinglassie and Wakefield Studs, for a reported $2 million. Nor was Rancher to be Charlie Waymouth’s last good horse. In the 1990’s he trained and part-owned the high-class sprinter Sequalo, whom his son Norman piloted to success in both the Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley and the Linlithgow Stakes at Flemington among other good races. Like Rancher, Sequalo carried Waymouth’s racing colours of ‘blue, gold band’ – colours once nondescript on Melbourne racecourses but now famous throughout the land. Sequalo, like Rancher, went on to become quite a useful stallion at stud. Charlie Waymouth died after a long illness at the age of 77 in April 2007 having suffered from a stroke in the last five years of his life.
Just read this and enjoyed remembering those times. My father was a close, lifelong friend of Charlie Weymouth. In fact he lived with us for a while, during the time he was “rubbed out”. My father owned ‘Fire Band’ around that time.
Hi Stephen, Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. What a good mare your father owned in Fire Band. Just about the only stakes winner that Hydrogen sired. I remember her well, winning both the Wakeful Stakes and the Sandown Guineas back in 1965. I think 1965 was the year they started racing at Sandown.
Ye indeed. I remember going down to Mentone to watch track work with dad and of course to ride the pony. I was quite young, but remember those times well. In the 70’s my father and mother had a couple of others too. ‘Master’ was one and another was Ptery’s Son.
I’ve read a few more chapters and am loving it.