How The West Was Won

Eurythmic (Eudorus (GB)-Bob Cherry by Bobadil)

RACING was a sport residents of each Australian State turned to for fun and tests of athletic equine prowess in the early days of our history. The very remote outpost of this vast continent, West Australia, colonised in 1829, was no exception with racing taking place in the 1840s and the Western Australian Turf Club being founded in 1852, 12 years earlier than the Victoria Racing Club in Melbourne.

The stature of WA racing was enhanced in the 1870s-80s with the establishment of major races that remain regular fixtures to this day. Three are the Perth Cup (1879), the WA Derby (1887) and Railway Stakes (also 1887).

Among the winners of the Railway and the Derby was Carbine (both in 1894), but he was a WA bred horse not to be confused with a folklore hero of Australian racing of the same name. That Carbine was the New Zealand bred stallion who won the 1890 Melbourne Cup carrying 10 stone 5 pounds (65.7kg).

Western Australian racing, and breeding, was strengthened greatly by the acquisition of horses acquired at sales in the East, particularly in the first half of last century at the Sydney Easter yearling market. Two, almost contemporaries, who did much to lift the image of the West were Hunter Valley products Eurythmic (1916) and Easingwold (1918). They won major races in WA, including the Derby, and crossed to the East and triumphed over some of the best in Australia.

The greatest of these performers was subsequent Hall of Fame inductee Eurythmic, a chestnut stallion who ran in 47 races for 31 wins (one dead-heat), 10 other places and £36,000 ($72,000), then an Australian record for earnings. Raced by Ernest Lee Steere, a doyen of the West, Eurythmic was sent East at four in the spring of 1920, winning his first four, including the Caulfield Guineas, Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Stakes. The latter was his 11th win in succession, a sequence that ended a week later when he finished fourth in the Melbourne Cup won by another celebrated Hunter Valley product, Poitrel. He carried 10 stone (63.5kg). Eurythmic bounced back on return from a spell to win his next eight, including the C.B. Fisher Plate (beat Poitrel) and Sydney Cup.

Only moderate as a sire, Eurythmic was bred at Scone by Noel Thompson, a grandson of William Thompson, one the greatest figures in breeding in that region in the first half of last century. William was a representative of the historic horse breeding family, the Thompsons of Widden Stud, Widden Valley. When William Thompson died at 97 in 1945, an obituary described him as an authority without peer in the realms of the thoroughbred.

At various times, he owned in the Scone district studs Yarraman Park, Sledmere, Camyr Allyn and Cliffdale. It was claimed in the obituary that Eurythmic came off the pastures of Sledmere, but a catalogue for a Thompson dispersal on the Noel Thompson-conducted Camyr Allyn in the 1920s said he was bred there. Yet another report says he was produced on Yarraman Park.

Scone Bred Australian Champion
ANOTHER report says that Eurythmic’s sire Eudorus (GB) (Hampton male line) was purchased by William Thompson for Yarraman Park after showing up as a very good racehorse in Melbourne, efforts including wins in the VATC Caulfield Futurity and VRC All-Aged Stakes, seconds in the VRC Melbourne Stakes, a third in the Caulfield Stakes and fourth in the Caulfield Cup. He also had a good record earlier in England, winning seven races in the 1000m-1600m range, including appearances at Newmarket,

In the Australian Stud Book covering the years of Eurythmic’s birth, his dam, Bob Cherry, is shown as being bred and owned by William Thompson until the season she produced him, ownership then shown as Noel Thompson. Bob Cherry was by Bobadil, an outstanding Australian racehorse by the imported St Simon sire Bill of Portland (GB). Another son of Bill of Portland, AJC and VRC Derby winner Maltster, stood all his stud career at Widden and ranks among Australia’s most successful sires.

Using Bahloo, a daughter of Maltster, Tom Harris, then principal of the family’s Holbrook Stud, one at the far end of the Widden Valley on which they settled about the same time that the Thompsons moved in, bred the colt that was to become Easingwold. He was by the Holbrook Stud resident sire Eaton Lad (GB), a grandson in male line of breed shaper Bend Or who won six races and finished fifth in the English Derby.

Sold to Western Australia, Easingwold established his class with wins in the region in the Derby, Karrakatta Plate (2YO), All-Aged Stakes (Lee Steere Stakes), Strickland Stakes and Kalgoorlie Cup. Sent East, he became a pioneer in a race which is now Australia’s premier weight-for-age event, the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley. He appeared in the first two, running second in 1922 to Violoncello (GB) and winning by 1.5 lengths when a 6-4 favourite in 1923.

Easingwold also won the VATC St George Stakes and two editions of the VATC Herbert Power Handicap. He finished second in the Caulfield Cup and VRC Newmarket and was twice third in the VRC Linlithgow Stakes, the C.B. Fisher Plate and AJC All-Aged Stakes.

The Thompsons remain a big force in Australian breeding from their ancestral home at Widden Stud, but no longer have a presence at Scone. In contrast the Harris family after nearly 150 years on Holbrook vacated the Widden Valley in 1998, but became a source of good horses from a major agistment farm bordered by the Pages River at the northern end of the Segenhoe Valley, a few minutes drive out of Scone.

Trading under Holbrook Thoroughbreds, this farm was established by Alan Harris, a grandson of Tom Harris, his wife Madge and daughter Julie, a very accomplished horsewoman. Julie now runs Holbrook Thoroughbreds and in addition to breeding horses for herself and clients, walks in approximately 100 mares each season to Hunter Valley studs, including Widden. Mares reside full time or visit for the season.

A major client is Peters Investment Pty Ltd, a partnership of a leading Western Australian businessman Bob Peters and his wife Sandra who challenge as the most successful breeders and racehorse owners outside Darley in Australia. Many of their big broodmare band visit Hunter Valley sires each season and are placed in the care of Julie Harris.

Two of these mares who have had servicing from Holbrook Thoroughbreds between them supplied three stakes winners bred and raced by the Peters who were successful at the big meeting at Perth’s Ascot on December 5. They were Arcadia Dream, a three year-old Domesday filly successful in the Listed Aquanita Stakes (1800m) and the More Than Ready (USA) sisters Ideal Image (4YO, won Jungle Dawn Classic-LR, 1400m) and Perfect Reflection (3YO, won $1m Kingston Town Classic-Gr.1, 1800m).

The Kingston Town
THE Kingston Town, by the way, is a prestigious event first held in 1976 under the Marlboro 50,000 name but now honouring one of the greatest Australian bred racehorses. One of the 31 races from 41 starts won by champion Kingston Town is the one that now carries his name in Perth.

Reared by his breeder David Hains in Victoria and retained by him when he could not get $10,000 for him as a yearling, Kingston Town was conceived at the Thompson family’s Widden Stud/ He was by Bletchingly and very likely was foaled there as his dam Ada Hunter (GER) went back to this sire the following season.

The T.J. Smith-trained Kingston Town is one of a galaxy of Eastern State performers who have succeeded in the Kingston Town, the others including Family of Man (twice), Sovereign Red, Vo Rogue, Better Loosen Up, Niconero (twice) and Irish bred Moriarty. When Moriarty won last year, the Peters bred and raced performers, Disposition (Reset–Test Case by Testa Rossa) and Elite Belle (Canny Lad-Mississippi Belle by Marooned), filled second and third places.

Bob and Sandra Peters also had a huge impact on the finish of this year’s Kingston Town, supplying first, Perfect Reflection, runner-up Delicacy (Al Maher-Simply Wicked by Scenic) and fourth, Neverland (Big Brown (USA)-Midnight Special by Zabeel). Every one of the mares who provided the Peters Kingston Town runners in the past two years, and also the mother of Arcadia Dream, have spent time in the Hunter Valley with the Harris family, a clan who enjoyed one of their greatest triumphs in a long history with thoroughbreds as the breeders of Easingwold.

Reflected Image, the dam of the newest stars for Bob and Sandra Peters, was at Holbrook Thoroughbreds in three years for matings with shuttling More Than Ready (USA) at nearby Vinery Stud. The results, all fillies, have been very worthwhile, namely New Image (2006, six WA wins, Belmont Oaks-LR, Matchmaker Classic-LR, Westspeed Plate, third Belmont Classic-LR), Ideal Image (2011, 12 starts, five wins WA, Jungle Dawn Classic-LR, Burgess Queen Stakes-LR, second Jungle Mist Classic-LR, third Champion Fillies Stakes-Gr.3) and Perfect Reflection (2012, unbeaten in five starts Perth, including the Kingston Town Classic-Gr.1, Champion Fillies Stakes-Gr.3 and Belgravia Stakes-LR).

Inbred 4×4 to Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector, Perfect Reflection, Ideal Image and New Image, and also Elusive Image, a Peters-bred Belmont Classic-LR winner by Elusive Quality (USA), are among eight winners who are all the runners from the Bluebird (USA) mare Reflected Image. She won the Western Australian Oaks-Gr.1 for Bob and Sandra.

In winning the Kingston Town, Perfect Reflection became More Than Ready’s 10th Australian sired Gr.1 winner and 16th worldwide. The 1997-foaled More Than Ready (Southern Halo–Woodman’s Girl by Woodman (USA)), a sire who has paid 15 visits to Vinery, has had from representation in 24 countries 1336 winners (148SW) of 3917 races (287 stakes) of $148.1m. His Australian sired foals have won about 1800 races and in the 2014-15 year supplied at home and abroad 124 winners (16 2YO) of 200 races and $6.9m.

Published January 2016