A Western District Melbourne Cup

As John Finn Kirby led his 3yo colt from the Mount Gambier show ring in 1908 judged as Best 10 Stone Hack, most would not have considered the same horse would be led in as the winner of the Melbourne Cup three years later, almost to the day. But John Kirby had a dream, and his “10 Stone Hack”, The Parisian, was one of the several new horses he had purchased with the potential to complete the task.

John Finn Kirby was born at his father’s Springbank station, near Casterton in 1858.  His father, Edmund Kirby, was born in Northamptonshire and was one of the early settlers at Casterton as was John’s Irish-born mother Mary Finn.  John and his sister Ellen each received their mother’s surname as their middle name.  As was the way for the sons of the early pastoralists, John was sent away to school, Ballarat College the choice.  He then spent seven years working for stock and station agent in Ballarat.

At age twenty-four, John went to work for Smallpage’s Stock and Station agents in Coleraine and after a year he bought the business. By 1883 he was secretary of the Coleraine Racing Club. In June 1885, John married South Australian girl Elizabeth Crowe, daughter of the late Edmund Crowe and Johanna Crowe, owners of Mingbool Station near Mt Gambier. The wedding was a social highlight in the town creating much interest.

The Border Watch. (1885, July 1). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77062640

In 1888, John purchased Mt Koroite Estate near the Coleraine racecourse.

COMMERCIAL INTELLIGENCE. (1888, September 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 9. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article6902423

In August 1889, Johanna Crowe passed away, resulting in an interesting battle over her will ending in the Adelaide Supreme Court.  The estate, worth £80,000, was settled with embattled son John receiving £10000 and daughter Elizabeth, Mrs Kirby, receiving half of the balance.  Her children received the other half of the estate.

John began to spend time between Mt Koroite and Mingbool.  He’d  been breeding and racing horses for a couple of years but with the use of  Mingbool,  his interests grew and in 1890 he established the Mingbool Stud, primarily breeding sheep but also horses and cattle.  An article from the Border Watch on 18 February 1903, reported Mingbool ran 19,000 sheep, 500 head of cattle and 100 horses.  From the same article,

THE MINGBOOL ESTATE. (1903, February 18). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77157688

By the middle of 1908, John Kirby had acquired three promising young thoroughbreds, Halloween, Benderay and The Parisian.  Benderay was the pick of the trio, brought by Kirby in Dublin, Ireland. He eventually sold the out of form horse in 1912.  Halloween showed a little more promise and picked up a few races for Kirby, but he sold him at auction in 1911.  That left The Parisian, bought by Kirby in 1907 at the Melbourne Yearling Sales.  His sire was Bobadil, winner of the 1899 Australian Cup and Champion Stakes and his dam was The Parisienne.

(1911, March 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38825171

After his victory in the show ring in 1908, The Parisian was full work by January 1909 with trainer Ernie Hartwell.

On and Off the Racecourse. (1923, June 23). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63442639

One of his early races, if not his first, was a six furlong Maiden Plate at Sandown Park on 7 April 1909, where he ran fourth, beaten by over ten lengths.  The Parisian scored his first victory on 19 April at the Mentone Races and he backed up an hour later to attempt a double.  An undecided outcome in the second race led to a third race at the end of the meet.

SPORTING INTELLIGENCE. (1909, April 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 4. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10691394

Despite his breeding, the horse was only raced over shorter distances with little success and he was put up for auction.  The great Bobby Lewis, in later years, recalled that time.

£76,000 PLUNGE THAT MISSED. (1933, December 13). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), p. 6 Edition: LATE CITY. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.ne

Passed in, The Parisian was sent to James Agnew, a Hamilton trainer, joining the stable on 1 January 1910.  Agnew soon realised The Parisian was a stayer and increased his distances with success. The Parisian won the 1910 Warrnambool and Hamilton Cups under Agnew. James Agnew’s wins with The Parisian were not enough for him to stay in his stables.  The Parisian, along with Halloween were leased to Charlie  Wheeler of Caulfield in June 1910.

Wheeler took the lead of James Agnew and placed The Parisian over longer journeys and both he and Halloween were nominated for the 1910 Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup not long after their arrival in the Wheeler stable. On October 1, The Argus newspaper’s ongoing summary of the Cup candidates featured The Parisian.  With only ordinary lead in form, it looked unlikely The Parisian would line up in the Caulfield Cup, with the Melbourne Cup a more likely option.  It was also noted in his last race he struck himself and was given a few days off work.

CUP CANDIDATES. (1910, October 1). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 17. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10465357

The Parisian did not recover fully from his injury of a cracked heel in time for the 1910 Melbourne Cup and he was scratched.

The Parisian’s first win of any note was the 1911 Australian Cup.  The lead up to the race was eventful.  Scheduled to run on 7 March, heavy rain leading up to the race saw the meeting postponed and rescheduled for 9 March, however, the rain did not let up and the race was again rescheduled for Saturday 11 March. Considered a weak field, there were only fourteen runners and The Parisian was sent out the second favourite.  As the field turned into the Flemington straight The Parisian drew clear and won by six lengths, easing up.

V.R.C. AUTUMN MEETING. (1911, March 13). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 8. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10885768

(1911, March 28). Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916), p. 20. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33388818

V.R.C. AUTUMN MEETING. (1911, March 13). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 8. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10885768

The Parisian then went off to the Sydney Cup, but he was not fully sound and struggled into twelfth.

SPORTING. (1911, April 15). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45127765

The next big race set for The Parisian was the 1911 Melbourne Cup.

CUP CANDIDATES. (1911, October 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11621080

In the week leading up to the race, The Parisian again had heel problems and couldn’t put his hoof to the ground.  Again it looked like he would be scratched.  Charlie Wheeler put the horse in a small paddock full of capeweed next to the stables.  The move paid off for Wheeler and on the morning of the race, The Parisian was galloping madly around his paddock trying to avoid capture.

A record crowd of 115,000 people headed to Flemington for the 51st running of the Melbourne Cup.

THE 51st MELBOURNE CUP—THE PARISIAN’S EASY WIN FROM FLAVIAN AND DIDUS. (1911, November 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38837876

Trafalgar was favourite and The Parisian with Thomas Ronald Cameron aboard was second favourite in a strong field. The thirty-three horse field jumped and went fast early and as they passed the judge’s box for the first time, the field was well strung out.  The Parisian began to make his move coming into the straight for the last time, but Cameron waited, not giving the horse his head until the very last.  There was no doubt though as The Parisian overtook the leaders and won by two lengths although many thought it was more.  The win was later described as “hollow” and “soft”.

THE 51st MELBOURNE CUP—THE PARISIAN’S EASY WIN FROM FLAVIAN AND DIDUS. (1911, November 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38837876

THE 51st MELBOURNE CUP—THE PARISIAN’S EASY WIN FROM FLAVIAN AND DIDUS. (1911, November 18). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), p. 23. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3883787

After weighing in,  Thomas Cameron was mobbed by stable boys and other jockeys.  Meanwhile out in the birdcage, John Finn Kirby’s dream had come true, he was the owner of a Melbourne Cup winner and his delight was clear.

THE RECORD CUP. (1911, November 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 13. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11630312

Reflecting twenty years later, Charlie Wheeler revealed the key to training The Parisian for the Cup.

CHARLIE WHEELER’S MEMORIES. (1932, October 29). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59832043

CHARLIE WHEELER’S MEMORIES. (1932, October 29). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59832043

In the days after the Cup, The Parisian was sent to Bacchus Marsh for a spell while John Kirby collected his winnings on “Settling Day” at the Victorian Club.  His winnings from the bookmakers were thought to be around  £40,000.  The stakes from the Cup another £7000, although Wheeler, as the lessee would have received the bulk of that.  The Victorian Heritage Database notes around that time,  Mt Koroite Homestead received extensive renovations and extensions presumably from Kirby’s winnings.  He had a manager and many staff including a resident Chinese gardener and a chauffeur, Archie Gunning who drove Kirby’s car, one of the first cars in the district.

(1911, November 21). Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916), p. 25. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33400021

THE NOBLE ART. (1911, November 12). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), p. 15. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57722192

An Autumn 1912 preparation was on the agenda for The Parisian including a chance to repeat his win in the Australian Cup for which he was favourite.  Unfortunately, his cracked heel again gave him trouble and he was sent to the paddock, missing all engagements. Brought back for the Spring Carnival, The Parisian ran in the Memsie Handicap first up but needed the run.  He returned in the Rupertswood Handicap where he showed more but was tender after the race.  During the following week, The Parisian pulled up lame after trackwork and a made to end his Spring campaign.

The Autumn Carnival of 1913 arrived and once again the Australian Cup was set down for The Parisian.  Punters were wary given the ongoing query about the horse’s soundness.  Their caution paid off when The Parisian’s cracked heel again saw him turned out.

It would have seemed unlikely The Parisian would return for the 1913 Spring Carnival, but as a gelding, he did not have a stud career before him and he returned to the track again.  Reports came in in early October he had gone amiss, however, he still ran in the Caulfield Cup on 18 October.  There were rumours the horse had problems and a possible scratching, however, Charlie Wheeler insisted the horse was fine and ran him.  The Parisian ran a creditable fourth but pulled up lame.

Wheeler’s patience was wearing thin and he advised John Kirby the horse should be turned out for the rest of the Spring.  Eventually, in early November, Wheeler returned the horse to Kirby and The Parisian looked set to retire.

Sporting. (1913, October 29). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77650783

However, in January 1914 it was reported The Parisian would return to racing in the Western District but not before he raced in the Australian Cup in March.

WORLD OF SPORT. (By “Wakeful.”) THE TURF. (1914, January 17). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45268231

Plans changed again as Charlie Wheeler began an Autumn 1914 preparation with The Parisian.  After a few starts, Wheeler finally gave up and once and for all returned The Parisian to Coleraine.

The Turf. (1914, May 7). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), p. 8 Edition: THIRD EDITION. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79921650

At last, a retirement a Melbourne Cup winner deserves looked likely.  No word of The Parisian racing appeared in the racing pages until just under three years later.  On St Patrick’s Day 1917, The Parisian returned to racing at the Coleraine Racecourse across from Kirby’s Mt Koroite Homestead.  With a hefty weight of 14 stone 9 lbs, the heaviest ever carried at Coleraine, and ridden by, of all people, John Kirby’s chauffeur Archie Gunning, The Parisian broke down again.

COLERAINE RACES. (1917, March 19). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88021248

There was little doubt The Parisian had run his last race and around two months later, the sad news came The Parisian had been destroyed.  Reports stated it was due to a start at a picnic meeting in the Western District.  With no reports of the horse racing between March and May, it would have to be assumed his injuries were due to the unreasonable task he was given on St Patrick’s Day at Coleraine when his only purpose in racing, was to attract a crowd.

SPORTING. (1917, May 17). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 10. Retrieved November 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1618494

This snippet from Broken Hill’s Barrier Miner four years before The Parisian’s death foresaw what was to come.  After two unsuccessful preparations and three years presumably in the paddock, the horse seemingly needed to earn more oats.  One would have thought as a Melbourne Cup winner he had earned more than a life time’s supply.

WORLD OF SPORT. (1913, March 8). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved November 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45222242

A sad end for a brave horse.

John Finn Kirby passed away at Portland on 7 April 1942 aged eighty-four.  His wife Elizabeth had passed away twenty-one years earlier at the Kirby home “Koroite” in Kew, Melbourne.  History shows The Parisian was the best horse Kirby owned, save for Napier a winner of the Great Eastern Steeplechase at Oakbank and the Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool.

OBITUARY. (1942, April 13). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64379650



Trove Australia – List – The Parisian

Victorian Heritage Database

Alice Hawthorn – The Western Mare

On 3 October 1857, a small grey mare known as “Alice” lined up for a match race with her rival Veno, from the colony of New South Wales (NSW), a race that would in time be remembered for its significance in setting the foundations for what has become Australia’s greatest horse race and strengthening the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry in Australia.  It was a time when inter-colonial rivalry was high, but this period of racing’s history shows that the racing fraternities of each colony, while still highly competitive, were able to work together in a harmonious way to develop the industry we have today. This story is not so much about the match race,  rather the life of the grey mare and the mark she left on Australian racing history.

“Alice”, bred at Mt William Station in the Western District and owned by great racing supporters, the Chirnsides, was born sometime around 1849.  Her sire was Delpare, an imported horse and her dam, Polly McQuinn, a part-Arab mare, bloodlines common in the early days of racing in Australia.  “Alice” was branded with the Chirnside’s  “key” brand.  Horses bearing that brand could never be sold.

DEATH OF ALICE HAWTHORNE. (1860, August 18). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59873244

At age three “Alice” was broken in and she spent time as a stock horse but, unlike her mother, she was not a good riding horse.  The Chinese workers at the station used her to carry rations to workers situated at out stations on the property but she developed a fistula wither, a painful condition, and was turned out.  During that time she became loose on the station roaming the bush for fifteen months. She ran with a wild horse and the result was a foal which died.  Time in the bush had not served her well, but back on pasture, she blossomed.

Put to work again, “Alice” was used by Robert Christison, a horse-breaker at Mt William, to act as  “nursemaid” to the young thoroughbreds he was breaking in.  On one occasion, the young horses had missed a muster and Christison chose  “Alice” to bring them back to the main paddock.  What a surprise he received.  This article, “Racing and Romance, Two Western Mares” includes excerpts from the book “After Many Days” by Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh that recount that day:

RACING AND ROMANCE. (1928, September 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 2 Supplement: The Argus. Saturday Camera Supplement. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3956921

The little mare, who not long before had roamed the bush, impressed and ousted the talented Miss Campbell from her prime stall in the stables.  She was also given her name,  Alice Hawthorn.

Her first race was at Hamilton over a mile and a half.  “Alice” won, kicking off a remarkable career which would span the next four years.  As was racing in those times, “Alice” returned to Hamilton the following day and backed up the win.

HAMILTON. (1856, January 21). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-It

It was not long before Alice Hawthorn was racing at Ballarat, Geelong and then Flemington.  This sketch shows her storming down the outside to win the Turf Club Autumn Cup of 1857.

Flemington: Past and Present. (1891, October 24). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 – 1872), p. 13. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63613318

It was this race and others that saw Alice Hawthorn considered one of Victoria’s best horses and in turn, her name was given as a challenger to a horse from NSW in a match race of £1000 aside.  The Victorians wanted to nominate three horses and select the best on the day, however, this was rejected by their NSW. colleagues who nominated just one horse, the chestnut Veno.  Alice Hawthorn, it was.

LOCAL NEWS. (1857, July 1). The Hobart Town Mercury (Tas. : 1857), p. 2. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3244328

There was some doubt in the minds of the Victorians that “Alice” was up to the task and her odds went out.  Others considered the home track advantage would help her.  Veno’s arrival in Melbourne created much interest with crowds of people gathering to see the Sydney horse.

VICTORIA. (1857, August 1). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867006

Meanwhile, there were security fears for “Alice’ and her trainer Mr Green built a stable at his home to accommodate her safely.

VENO AND ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, August 29). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 10, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867185

This thorough description of “Alice”, including her physique, action and temperament is unlike anything seen today.  The Melbourne correspondent noted her “fine, even temper which nothing can ruffle is the theme of universal admiration”.  Jokes were often made about her arrival at the starting line for races, looking like she had just had a sleep. This probably helped her settle in her races and run out the three miles.

ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, September 5). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867231

Those attending the Great Inter-Colonial Match race from Sydney could take up the offer from the Australian Steam Navigation Company of a return ticket at a reduced rate.

THE WRECK OF THE DUNBAR. (1857, September 5). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64986713

In the preceding days, something akin to the call of the card was held at the Tattersall’s Hotel in Russell Street, where the original challenge was offered.  A healthy amount of money was wagered, all with a sense of good sportsmanship.

Chair, Mr Goldsborough welcomed the sporting men of Sydney, including trainer Mr Rowe, and reassured them that they “would be met upon all occasions in the hearty spirit of true sportsmen”.

At the gathering, a decision was made to set up a subscription room at the Tattersalls Hotel for those of “good respectability and conduct’ for a season ticket of ten shillings.  The Produce Stakes was also devised, open to horses from all colonies.

VENO AND ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, October 2). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28633161

On the morning of 3 October 1857, all roads led to Flemington.  For others, a steamer up the Saltwater River (Maribyrnong River) was the preferred transport.

SPORTING INTELLIGENCE. (1857, October 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7139724

As feared by many Victorians, it was not Alice Hawthorn’s day, with Veno winning the three-mile race.  “Alice” was not disgraced but could not match the stamina of Veno.

FIRST RACE. THE MATCH FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP.—VICTORIA V. NEW SOUTH WALES. (1857, October 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 1 Edition: Second Edition.. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13001270

Veno’s trainer accepted another challenge with the horse backing up two races later against Victorian Van Tromp.  Veno raced another three miles, finishing in a faster time than his race against “Alice”, beating Van Tromp by two lengths.

The Victorian racing fraternity was left questioning their horses’ bloodlines and those from the colony of NSW left no doubt where Veno hailed from as this headline from the Empire, a Sydney newspaper shows.

[SECOND EDITION.]. (1857, October 8). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 3 Edition: 2nd edition. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60261613

This article from The Argus, written in the days, stressed how important breeding better Victorian horses was if they were to match it with the other colonies and the need for good horse races such as the match race, to make sure that the standard of horse improved.

The Argus. (1857, October 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7139706

It was not long before “Alice” was back racing and on 2 December she was at Ballarat, once again a winner.

THE RACES. SECOND DAY. (1857, December 3). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 2. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66045460

On Thursday 18 February 1858, Alice Hawthorn won the Great Metropolitan Handicap at Flemington, redeeming herself with those who dismissed her both before and after her match race with Veno.

VICTORIA JOCKEY CLUB RACE MEETING. (1858, February 26). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 3. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60426399

“Alice” continued to race and win.  Just over twelve months after her match race, she was still considered Victoria’s leading three miler, although some thought this was because she had nothing to beat.

No title. (1858, November 6). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59869552

The 1 October 1859 was the first running of the Australian Champion Sweepstakes at Flemington racecourse.  Horses from the colonies of South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania were among the entries, true inter-colonial racing.

One of the entries, The Barber from South Australia, had an unfortunate and unexpected link to the Western District. The Barber’s transportation to Melbourne was the steamer Admella.  The Admella struck trouble along the South Australian coast near the Victorian border and the Portland lifeboat Ladybird with Captain James Fawthrop at her helm went to the rescue.  All the horses aboard the steamer drowned, except for The Barber, who amazingly came to shore, two and a half miles away from the wreck.  He was then walked overland to Geelong and travelled by rail to Melbourne.  Not surprisingly he finished close to the tail of the field in the Sweepstakes.

“Alice”, by this time at least ten years old, acquitted herself well in the three-mile race running fourth behind the winner Victorian Flying Buck,  a three-year-old.

THE CHAMPION RACE DAY. (1859, October 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5689255

Alice Hawthorn ran her last race in November 1859 in the Turf Club Welter Handicap over three miles.  She won by ten lengths and retired with £5000 in stakes money, the highest of any horse in the colonies.

VICTORIA. (1859, November 26). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 4. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59871699

The Chirnsides sent their mare to stud for a meeting with their imported stallion Peeping Tom. It is not clear if the mating was successful.

On 12 August 1860, the mare they called “Alice” passed away at the Chirnside’s Point Cook at twelve years of age, only nine months out of racing.  Her lungs that gave her the stamina to run long distances had failed her.

MELBOURNE NEWS. (1860, August 16). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87945829

DEATH OF ALICE HAWTHORNE. (1860, August 18). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59873244

“Alice” went from the foothills of the Grampians to matching it with some of the leading horses in Victoria and the other colonies.  She easily could have remained at Mount William Station as nurse maid to the future stars of the Chirnside’s stables.  It was only for her demonstration of brilliance rounding up the escaped horses that saw her rise to becoming a household name.   She saw hard racing considering many of her races were over three miles, a mile further than the Melbourne Cup.  Horses from her time could run two three mile races in a day, just as Veno did on 3 October 1857.

In 1861, the first Melbourne Cup was run.  Racing was building up to a race like the Cup from the time of the Great Inter-Colonial match race, the Great Metropolitan Handicap and the Sweepstakes, but unlike those races, it has endured and strengthened over 150 years.  Racing was evolving, as it was suggested it should after the 1857 match race, by creating great horse races to improve the stock.  Unfortunately for Victoria, Archer from N.S.W. won the first two cups.  Banker, bred by Woodend hotel keeper Joseph Harper, finally won for the colony in 1863.  The Great Inter-Colonial match race began the stream of horses across the borders to race in Victoria.  Today, Victorian racing is International, with overseas horses not only racing here in the spring but taking the main prize.

Alice Hawthorn and her rivals of the time have a place in Australian racing history.  While the leaders of the Australian colonies were struggling to work together on a united front, the connections of these horses were showing their political counterparts how to do it.  The Sporting Notes of The Argus of 24 March 1865 praised those involved in racing.  Between the Great Inter-Colonial match race in 1857 and 1865, the racing clubs of the colonies had agreed on a single birth date for all thoroughbreds, August 1 and Victoria had revised its Weight for Age system to come into line with the other colonies.  The correspondent said “It would be remarkable if meeting pleasantly on the neutral ground of sport, the Australian colonies were thereby hereafter to meet in an equally friendly spirit to deal with  more important questions”

SPORTING NOTES. (1865, March 24). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5734367

At the time of the death of Andrew Chirnside,  The Border Watch reported that Alice Hawthorn helped make his name in racing circles.

SPORTING NOTES. (1890, May 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77489433

I came to know about Alice Hawthorn while searching for articles about Mt. William Station at Trove.  My ggg grandfather James Mortimer and his family arrived at Mt William Station around 1853, about the time “Alice” was broken in.  He was there when she was working as a packhorse and when she rounded up the young horses.  When Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh was at Munthum Station and heard the stories of the Delpare mare, James Mortimer was at Mt William Station.  Was James Mortimer one of the stockmen who rode Alice her and dismissed her as a riding horse?  He must have at least heard talk of her.

The talk of her continued for years after.  Donald McDonald, in 1928, put Alice Hawthorn’s racing career into perspective.

RACING AND ROMANCE. (1928, September 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 2 Supplement: The Argus. Saturday Camera Supplement.. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article395692