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The passing of a fine Horseman

Andy White never looked for publicity in life, nor in death, he faced it as he saw it, there were no frills about Andy.

He passed away a few weeks ago in God’s own country, the Barossa Valley of South Australia, his widow, Suzanne, phoned me a day or so ago to pass on the sad news.

Andy played a lone hand in racing, he went about his business, there was no nonsense, the horse was his prime objective.

His commenced his career in racing as an amateur jockey, he rode at the Picnics and would have ridden for Otway Falkiner who presided over 375,000 acres of land at Boonoke Station outside of Deniliquin, in the rich Riverina of New South Wales.

At a time when the Picnic meetings were far more popular than the professional fixtures, if you were not a member you were not allowed to enter the course, even bookmakers were turned away, they had to bet outside the course at the front gate, there was no way in for love nor money.

When Andy decided to give up riding he took out a trainer’s licence that was a mere formality approved with the stroke of a pen.

Andy received the break of his life time in racing when he met up with Alan Kirby, a well known and highly respected citizen living in Deniliquin; he had a thriving red gum saw mill among other interests, and couple of horses, but often too busy to train them.

They were a formidable team, Kirby trusted Andy to the letter, he never broke a confidence and it certainly paid off.

After Indicted won a restricted race at Deniliquin, ridden by Roy Higgins a promising young jockey in the district, Andy had plans for the gelding, but he was playing his cards close to his chest.

A Wednesday fixture at Canterbury in Sydney was the target, Indicted slipped out of town without being noticed, Andy drove the float and he had Higgins sitting beside him.

Higgins had never ridden outside of the Riverina at that stage; he cut a lone figure up against senior jockeys such as Jack Thompson, Bill Cook, Neville Sellwood and Bill Camer.

Higgins had Indicted scraping the paint on the home turn, all was going to plan, the issue was now beyond doubt and the gelding won well.

The plunge came off, it was a huge win, the biggest seen at a mid-week fixture at Canterbury.    

It was a dark for bookmakers, few of them escaped, most felt the pain known as cramps affecting the hip pocket.

Settling had its problems with pockets bulging to capacity, the race club provided Kirby a satchel to carry the loot away.

Andy White finally came to Melbourne, but he should have come down much sooner, he was a brilliant trainer, gifted in fact, he didn’t hang around bars, he left soon after he had a runner, his integrity could never be questioned.

He settled in at Epsom soon after coming from the Riverina, he just had to find a top horse, in fact he found several, but Craftsman will always hold pride of place as the best horse he ever put a hand on.

His Derby win stamped him as an outstanding colt; he defeated Sir Dane who proved very capable at weight for age.

Craftsman also won the Australian Cup twice and also won at weight for age, he was by Better Boy, the best sire ever seen in Victoria, champion sire four times and sired Century, who was champion sire once. .

Spendthrift owned mares US bound

Cana and Ameristralia, both purchased in Australia as yearlings by Spenthrift U S, will leave for America in mid February to complete their racing in the United States.

The plan is to target Black Type races in the U S, which would enhance their stud value greatly, both fillies were in the stable of the Hawkes team.

Cana is by Fastnet Rock, she has raced 14 times for three wins and three placings, earning stake money of $201,835, Ameristralia is also by Fastnet Rock, she has had 10 starts for three wins and four placings, returning stake money of $71,920.

Both mares will fly out mid February where they will join the current team at Spenthrift Kentucky, founded by the late Leslie Combs 11, on 127 acres of land on the Iron Works Pike that had once been a part Elmendorf Stud.

Leslie Combs 11 was about the first to adopt bloodstock syndication as a big business operation, back in the sixties 26 stallions stood at Spenthrift.

It was there at Spenthrift where two Australian champions had their first and only meetin, Bernborough, had his head over the door of his loose box when Shannon was led past.

Combs looked about and found the top were sires were not procurable; he syndicated their better sons with horses like Fleet Nasrullah by Nasrullah, Bold Hour by Bold Ruler

Triple Bend, by Never Bend, plus numerous entires with sound male lines were syndicated with immediate success.

However, the appetite for breeding bloodstock was aroused when Myrtlewood won 15 races for Combs, by Blue Larkspur she was the foundation mare, her offspring were responsible to a great degree for the success of Spendrift Farm.

At Keenelands 1976 Breeding Stock Sales the farm sold 96 broodmares, there were still 400 mares, including boarders, remaining now on its 5,500 acres          


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