Racing in Bairnsdale, 3 horse racing covers show & 3 horse stories to tell:
Story number 1 - Horse 'Solitare Player':
I had teamed up with the Vern Proctor stable in mid 1989 & we seemed to be taking this horse to Bairnsdale about once a month, always with high expectations but always finding one better. At the races I bumped into an old workmate Bob T. who I hadn't seen for 10 years. He owned one of the local motels & probably the dodgiest one. When Solitaire Player finally won at Bairnsdale, it was back to the motel for a drinks session. It was a big night & a big headache the next day.
Story number 2 - Horse 'St.Kilda Beach':
A couple of years later St.Kilda Beach was on the scene & he too had made the journey down to Bairnsdale. It was Melbourne Cup day 1992 & we thought we could win. Now jockeys either don't need instructions or they don't listen to them & this jockey was one of the second type & we were beaten half a length by a horse called Post Graduate. I know one Stampboarder who could tell you a lot more about this horse than I can. Four days later we reversed the order at Stony Creek with the jockey sporting a size 10 bruise on his rear end.
Story number 3 - Horse 'Silveneer':
Silveneer was the first son of Solitaire Player & he also made the trip to Bairnsdale & I think this was the last trip to Bairnsdale as Vern moved to Tatura not long after.
I raced this little grey horse with Vern, & Don, his brother in law, who owned the sire Ravenstone. He was no world beater but Vern said he would win "first up" in this "non-TAB" 1000 metre maiden race at Bairnsdale.
So I said to the wife we are going to the races on Saturday, & she said no you can't we are booked in for an exhibition at the National Gallery at 6 pm. I said no worries Bairnsdale is a 4 hour trip, the race is at 12.30 pm & if we leave straight after we will be back in time to shower & change & be there by 6 pm. She refused to go, so off I went solo bank in hand.
I arrived at the course in plenty of time but he was a bit short with bookies because a couple of the other horses were scratched. 6 to 4 wasn't going to pay my petrol money
Money on & then off to leg up the jockey Roger. Roger wasn't my favourite jockey & I had managed to stop him riding my other horse St.Kilda Beach but I didn't have enough voting power to stop him riding this one. However Vern liked him because he would ride trackwork for free in exchange for race rides. Sadly Roger passed away in August a few years ago while riding at the Darwin Cup Carnival.
So Roger bounces him out in front & he is leading well. With about 100 metres to go I spot this thing "Croobyar Road" flying from the back of field. Roger is just cruising & I am yelling let him go Roger, let him go
He does eventually but it is all too late & we are beaten by a nose. I was furious & Vern said don't say anything, I will deal with it. Roger unsaddles & then says to us where did that thing come from
It was all I could to hold myself back from snotting him. Suffice to say Roger never rode for Vern again.
Left the course, made it home in time for the National Gallery & had a lovely evening even though the wife was a bit dark on me.
Now the story doesn't end there. Years later I saw Croobyar Road in at Traralgon. He had now had 108 starts but had still only won one race.
PS Roger was a funny fellow. One day the ambulance was called to the jockeys room at Pakenham Racecourse (the old one). Roger had been jumping up & down, standing on a table, cheering a horse home, when he was hit on the head by a ceiling fan.
Specialist Collector of World Horse Racing Covers, Melbourne Cup & Kentucky Derby, & JFK fdcs.