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A Formidable Team

Racing was beginning to get back on its feet again after the 1914 -1918 conflict of war, the popular sportsmen Ernest Clarke, James Scobie and Bobby Lewis, renewed their interest in racing again.

They had had a successful relationship, each trusted the other, Clarke, the owner, Scobie, the trainer, and Lewis the jockey.

Clarke was a very wealthy man with a large string of racehorses, he would not accept there was any better trainer than Scobie, or a jockey as good as Bobby Lewis, that was surely proven.

At that time Clarke had a very good horse by the name of Emir, he was a class galloper, however, he could be wilful when least expected.

He had been known to savage an opposing horse during a race, or even attempting to grab the reigns of another runner.

Clarke built a stud farm, known as Melton Park, with the intention of standing Emir as a sire, but that was a disaster, he hardly left a foal, and those he did leave were worthless, he hardly sired a winner and was very difficult to manage.

Clarke had practically abandoned the idea of establishing Melton Park, when fate took a hand in the person of Jim Brewer, the one time famous steeplechase jockey, a contemporary of Tommy Corrigan, James Scobie and Andrew Ferguson, when steeplechasing was booming in the western district.

Jim Brewer persuaded Clarke to give him a cheque for 5,000 guineas and let him purchase a stallion, and a few mares for Melton Park

Brewer was away a full year, 3 months travelling, 6 weeks each way by steamer, the remainder of the time was spent looking at horses, the reason he was in England.

He purchased The Welkin, who proved to be a good two year old by Flying Fox, who had won the Two Thousand Guineas, Derby and the St Leger.

The Welkin at one stage had sired winners of 684 races, included among those purchased, was Light, the dam of Gloaming, Lady Roberts and Teppo, who was one of the finest mares ever imported into Australia

 .Ernest Clarke seated, with James Scobie and Bobby Lewis

P1030425 2 Mobile


Zoustar to Shuttle

Zoustar will shuttle to England for the Northern Hemisphere stud season. which commences in the first week of March 2019.

He made a clean sweep of the Coolmore Stud Stakes with three of his progeny filling the placings.

Two of the three placegetters, the winner, Sunlight, a filly, and the second placegetter Zousain, a colt, are raced in the same interests who would have preferred to see the result reversed.

The colt, as a sire, would likely cover at least 100 mares in his first season, he has the shorter odds of getting a winner than the mare.

Zoustar will be on his way just before Christmas, his destination is Tween Hills stud, in Gloustershire, a stud with a high reputation.

Zoustar March 2018 MobileZoustar


The Derby The Oldest Classic

The Derby to be run at Flemington on Saturday is the oldest classic first run in 1855 six years earlier than the first Melbourne Cup.

With the early success of the Victoria Derby, within 33 years every state in Australia had a Derby, except Tasmania, they came along much later.

There was one prominent owner with a horse that had won the Classic, he remembered the horse’s name, but wasn’t sure which Derby it was.

Times have changed and so has the Derby, the best two year olds of the previous season are running in the shorter races now, plenty of opportunity with 80 per cent of our races now run at less than 1600 metres.

The sprinting horses are becoming more dominant, the syndicators love them as their business has become quite lucrative and popular.

Syndication is here to stay, that is not prediction it is a reality, formerly horses that won the Derby would most likely graduate to weight for age that rarely happens now.


The Man Bookmakers Feared

During the twenties, and into the thirties, Eric Connolly was the most feared person to step on a racecourse, be it in Melbourne or Sydney.

He didn’t have a gun, all though there were many that were well armed and not afraid use them if the occasion arose.

The punting bug bit him at a tender age, he was about nine year old when he went onto the Flemington flat with a few schillings in his pocket, from there he was never paid as an employee.

They were desperate times leading into the depression, however, Connolly never wanted for anything, he lived on his wits; he was a gambler, and a highly successful one at that.

He came from a humble beginning; he wasn’t fed from a golden spoon, (a quote that a person came from a wealthy family) that was not the case with Eric Connolly.  

He was shrewd, brilliant, in fact he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and always got the best of the odds.

Originally, he managed race horses for wealthy people, who may not have had the time due to pressure of their business.

That suited him; he didn’t train the horses, but had the advantage of selecting the suitable races for them.

It became a lucrative business, the owners employed the trainers, Connolly selected the races for the horses, everything worked out well.

He soon became the best dressed figure on the racecourse, with a wide variety of suits, and wouldn’t wear the same suit twice in the one week, and a cigarette hanging in the corner of his mouth.

Bookmakers feared him, he was absolutely ruthless, he would place 10,000 pounds on a horse and have the cheek to say, “Can I have another serve?”

The bookie then would be off in a flash, looking for the next bloke to try and lay some of the bet off, particularly if it was Ascot, the bookie would be a dead duck.

Eric Connolly, flamboyant character, winning fortunes and losing them in the drop of a hat, without batting an eyelid, his motto, Money lost Nothing lost –Courage lost Everything lost.

When entries closed for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in July, about 600 horses would be entered for each race.

Doubles betting was always very popular; often a bonanza for those in need, and that included a few bookies.

Betting was already in place before the weights were declared, Phar Lap was favourite for both cups, Phar Lap, as you would expect, was the early favourite in each leg, but still Eric Connolly had not made a move.

He was well aware that Harry Telford, who purchased Phar Lap as a yearling, but could not pay for him, Telford had to seek the assistance of an American, David Davis, who ultimately owned Phar Lap, as Telford was near broke.

On one of his several visits to Sydney Eric Connolly spotted a good horse named Amounis, he had won an Epsom Handicap and several weight for age races, he began to think about it, if Phar Lap was not in the Caulfield Cup, Amounis would be next door to a good thing.

“Well what do we do? “said Telford, Connolly replied, “leave that to me, we are not ready yet. “

Bookmakers were having to lay money off now, as the commitment was getting beyond it, the favourite double, Phar Lap for the Caulfield Cup and Phar Lap for the Melbourne Cup, the shortist double on record.

Connolly always had a high opinion of Amounis, it was now time to strike, he had backed the Amounis –Phar Lap double for a huge amount, some say it could have been a million pounds.

Finally it was announced the scratching of Phar Lap from the Caulfield Cup, the winner was Amounis at 2-1 favourite, and Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup at 8-11 on.

It was the biggest hiding bookmakers have known, many went to the wall, some never recovered, the depression didn’t make it any easier.


The Autumn Sun blitzes Rivals

The Autumn Sun gave his rivals a sound beating, for those that opposed him in the Caulfield Guineas on Saturday.

It was a highly impressive win by four and a half lengths, however not as impressive as Tulloch, who won the Guineas by eight and a half lengths, but then we haven’t seen another Tulloch as yet, but who knows? Records are made to be broken.

There is no question The Autumn Sun is a very highly talented racehorse, he has now won five races from six starts, and should remain unbeaten.

The Autumn Sun 066 Jack MobileThe Autumn Sun winning the Guineas

He is a super colt; he came into the paddock for the parade without a care in the world, walking close to his attendant the colt was perfectly relaxed, all he wanted to do was to get on with the race, the purpose of being at Caulfield.

The Autumn Sun drew a good gate 5, and made full use of it, perched up on the outside out of trouble, and ready to go at the slightest command.

Once he reached the railway side of the course, he just strode away at his leisure; the race was virtually over from there.

It was certainly the best performance we have seen by a three year old for many a long day, whether we will see him again this spring is unlikely, he is still in the Cox Plate, however, he may be resting in the paddock by then.

The Autumn Sun 341 Jack MobileA Champion Colt


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