Sunday, 25 June 2017

THE SPORT OF KINGS AND FAMILY

My uncle, Jack Bell,as an amateur jockey.  
The Bells and the Clarks were devotees of the sport of kings. Describing them as devotees is too mild; they treated horse racing as a religion. They would have gladly raced horses full time rather than run cattle stations.
I think I’m the only one of my family that never owned a race horse.  Even my father raced a horse and he once told me that the racing fraternity were the lowest form of human life. My father and all of his seven siblings (three females and four males) owned horses.  Then it was my grandparents, Jane Florence and Richard Bell who raced horses, largely in North Queensland. 
My grandfather had an unfortunate incident with one of his purchases from Melbourne.  The stallion had raced in several major races in Melbourne including an unplaced in the Melbourne Cup. On its arrival in Charters Towers from Melbourne, he was showing it off down the main street when it grabbed him by the seat of the pants, lifted him up and dumped him in on the ground.  The resulting injury was enough to put him in hospital.  My grandfather still kept the horse and it lived a long life.

My great grandfather, John Clark, regularly attended the Sydney and Melbourne yearling sales and raced winners in North Queensland.  My grandfather’s brothers and cousins were also heavily involved in the racing industry as owners, jockeys, farriers and stewards.  It even goes down to the present day when my father’s first cousin, Doctor Kevin Bell (Veterinary Science), founded  the Australian Equine Genetic Research Centre in 1986. It is located at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.

Some of the most notable family horses and racing wins are:
Grosvenor Downs ( owned by Minnie and Cosmo Gordon. Minnie was a sister of my grandmother) owned  My Man who was a grandson of Assyrian. Assyrian won the 1882 Melbourne Cup. They also owned Nonette who was bought as a breeding sire. During his racing career, Nonette won the equivalent of seven million dollars in today’s money.

My grandfather’s brother, John Bell, who owned Cardigan Station, bought Eastcourt as a breeding sire.  During Eastcourt’s career he won the equivalent of five million dollars in today’s money. Some of his wins are the VRC Handicap and the Sydney Tattersalls. Eastcourt also ran second in the Sydney Cup and a third in the VRC Derby and the Australian Cup.

Eastcourt.

A first cousin of my father named Simon Lynch, won the Grand National Steeplechase in Victoria in 1932.

As you can see, horse racing is in the blood.