"A Vision Of The Hurdle Race" 1889 ??

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Gary Harding
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"A Vision Of The Hurdle Race" 1889 ??

Post by Gary Harding » Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:23 am

When one gathers old bush poetry books, occasionally strange and fascinating things fall out of them!
As an example, here is what fell out of a signed book by Jack Moses (Nine Miles From Gundagai, 1938) recently.

It is a very delicate and Hand-Written bush ballad entitled :

"A Vision Of The Hurdle Race"

.. and I thought that I would share it with fellow bush poetry enthusiasts.

A galloping bush rhyme.

It was written in 1889 at Eagle Farm in Brisbane (outer north Brisbane)... by A. J. Conners of Ormond Lodge. That makes it nearly 130 years old.

I intend to transcribe it in order that it can be easily read and preserved.

Quite possibly it is the only copy of this poem in existence. In owning it, there is a real responsibility to the nation to preserve it. Also to exhibit it, if possible.

So the question is... who is A.J. Connors?

....and to a lesser degree, where/what is Ormond Lodge?
Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Gary.
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Shelley
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Re: "A Vision Of The Hurdle Race" 1889 ??

Post by Shelley » Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:27 pm

Wow! How amazing Gary!
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Re: "A Vision Of The Hurdle Race" 1889 ??

Post by Gary Harding » Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:01 pm

Yes, it is amazing..... but the fascinating story continues...

Firstly Maureen Clifford very kindly supplied the following terrific research information, based on her in-depth knowledge of horses, horse-racing and familiarity with hurdle races.

1. "The jockey Colley could be Albert or Chubb Colley who were jump jockeys and steeplechasing is indicated in the poem. The racehorse Beggar Boy has an interesting history (although it may not be the same horse , but I think it is as a name cannot be reused for 17 years after the year of birth of the horse with this name.) .. owned by Harry Chauvel no less.....https://books.google.com.au/books?id=xw ... wC&pg=PT19...

2. This bloke would have been IMO Beggar Boy's sire - Winning his final race at nine years, Jolly Beggar was retired from racing with a record of 11½ wins and 12½ placings from 40 starts across four States.

Jolly Beggar played a major role in the local breeding industry and at the end of 1934 his progeny had won 513 races and amassed nearly £60,000 in stakes. In eleven years he was leading Western Australian sire on seven occasions. Few horses left such an influential legacy on Western Australian racing."

OK....so Beggar Boy was real!

Where I had assumed it was a poem with fictional horses etc, I began to get suspicious.

So I dropped into Google search, the names of all the horses mentioned in the poem, plus 1889... and stood well back.

Up comes the following in Trove which details the actual race on 22nd April 1889 !

It is mirrored in the poem. Yes it all actually happened!! Eagle Farm. The Normandy Stakes. A handicap hurdle race for 100 sovereigns. All the horses and Colley are mentioned. The race described. The Brisbane Tattersall's Autumn meeting.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/3495178

So "Eagle Farm 1889" is in truth part of the poem's title. Which may detract from the presumed date of writing, but I don't think so... necessarily.
However... the entire report describing the race day is hilarious.

Reading the entire article, I laughed so much.!!! 130 years ago.

"Butler quickly remounted Tambour (after the fall) and went in pursuit of the others, but he had lost too much ground to recover" The jockeys were game... and determined! No worries about getting back on.. off we go again.

Also report of a horse being likely knobbled... "to all appearances he must have been tampered with during the night...."

"The starter, Mr Gooley, is determined to get the jockeys under control.."

".. the result was the horses were started in front of the post and the race had to be run over again." Poor horses!

The race was described as "about 2 miles" .... give or take I guess.

No wonder Banjo Paterson found so much humour in racing. It was truly hilarious in the good old days! Comedy and farce. Fun!!

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Re: "A Vision Of The Hurdle Race" 1889 ??

Post by Shelley » Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:17 am

Don’t you just love Trove? I use it frequently for my research ... and often find myself spending much more time than intended delving into the fascinating tales of the past.

The style of journalism was so florid! When I read the report of opening day for the original Maryborough hospital I laughed out loud at the over-the-top descriptions of this (apparently) world-changing event. I guess for the people at the time, it was.

I particularly enjoyed the visual picture of the temperance ladies serving cordial on the verandah, while around the back the Globe hotel had set up a keg!

Cheers
Shelley
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"Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
fer 'atin' never paid no dividends."
(CJ Dennis "The Mooch o' Life")

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Re: "A Vision Of The Hurdle Race" 1889 ??

Post by Gary Harding » Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:21 pm

This fascinating story continues... all from a bit of paper falling from a book.

Here is another 1889 horse-racing poem by A J Connors discoverd by chance late last night, this time dated Sept 1889.

The poet is called semi-annonymously "C", Ormond Lodge. This poem uses the same expressions... but WE know who he really is!

Ormond's Farewell To The Turf

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... 72/8758464

So the handwritten signed poem I have is certainly 1889! It was written contemporaneous with that 22nd April 1889 race. There is every chance that it may be the oldest or one of the oldest, hand-written, original, galloping Australian bush ballads about horse-racing in existence. That could make it worth millions, in which case all (paid-up) ABPA members get a free carton of VB from me. If not, I get a free carton from the ABPA.

I am going to have a chat with the Eagle Farm Racecourse Museum and Racing Historical Group. I am sure they will know who A J Connors was and may be able to supply a photo of Beggar Boy etc.

Then I will make a huge display board with everything tied together... poeple poems and horses. A great exhibition piece.
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Re: "A Vision Of The Hurdle Race" 1889 ??

Post by Gary Harding » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:31 pm

Yes Shelley, Trove is good ... although I have not been using Trove properly... relying on a Google search to access it.

After your post, (much appreciated), I determined to take a closer look at it and found the Trove entry Search portal.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/

Might seem pretty basic to some, but dumb me had never actually been there before...

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... rchLimits=

Discovered that Ormond Lodge was not in fact a 19th century YMCA, but a Racing Stable.

"Wat" was actually Watty Blacklock, the owner of the stable which explains why he was happy when Beggar Boy won!

Not resolved who A J Conners was yet, but clearly in 1889 he was somehow associated with Ormond Lodge stables. His second poem might suggest that he was sort of retiring then?

This is all more than just academic.

I am preparing a high-impact visual display-unit that starts with a scrap of paper falling from a book.. an orphan bush ballad.... and how with help from the internet and its powerful research and communication capabilities, its history and story can be told, 130 years later.

A J Connors would have a chuckle that his poem has been discovered and he is thus achieving some fame, even if 130 years later.

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Re: "A Vision Of The Hurdle Race" 1889 ??

Post by Gary Harding » Fri Apr 06, 2018 6:08 am

All the final pieces of this puzzle are falling in to place.
This hurdle poem appeared in a newspaper in 1935.

J A (Jimmy) Connors (aka "Cyclone") was a jockey. However the poem was indeed originally written in 1889.

The handwritten poem I have was obviously transcribed because the writer wrote initials A J instead of J A. Hence confusion. Not an original document, sadly.

Whoever copied it from the paper in 1935, and it looks like an older-hand, must have inserted it into Jack Moses' signed 1938 copy of Nine Miles From Gundagai.

J Connors himself was not a jump jockey. He later worked for the famous Walter ("Wat") Blacklock at Ormond Lodge stables, Eagle Farm.
Lots of other history and facts but I will not go on...

Jimmy passed away in about 1933 at Beaudesert, Qld ...fortunately not before penning (among other great verses) a poem called :
On The Banks Of The Reedy Lagoon

Folk/bush music enthusiasts would likely be familiar with it?

The best version I know was done by The Cobbers Bush Band. It is on their Cobbers album (1980)

I have sung along with this track many times, little knowing that the lyricist Mr. Connors and I would cross paths some 130 years after he penned a lovely horse racing poem.
A time when I hope to gather some of his faded poetic work and feature him... and the great story of re-finding him for bush poetry buffs, and others.

"Jimmy" rides again....

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Re: "A Vision Of The Hurdle Race" 1889 ??

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:26 pm

Just in case you haven't already come across this Gary - http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/blacklock-walter-5262
Check out The Scribbly Bark Poets blog site here -
http://scribblybarkpoetry.blogspot.com.au/


I may not always succeed in making a difference, but I will go to my grave knowing I at least tried.

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Re: "A Vision Of The Hurdle Race" 1889 ??

Post by Gary Harding » Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:08 am

Thank you Maureen.. and you would have noticed at the end of the anu article where Wattie is described as ...
"small, sturdy and jovial, with a sweeping white moustache, he remained always the quintessential horseman. He failed to learn to drive a motor car, purchased in 1923, which he would try to stop by pulling on the steering wheel and shouting 'Whoa'. " :) :)

Jockey/trainer J A (Jim) Connors had yet another pen name apparently... "The Stray Leaf"

He was J A Connors, "C", Cyclone, The Stray Leaf.

It makes it difficult to tie down him down. He is very briefly mentioned somewhere on oldqldpoetry.com, sadly not rating a feature of his own. Those poets are mostly free verse that I cannot understand.

horse racing :

Poets like Jimmy I feel highlight the strong connection between bush poets and horse racing. Some of the obscure bush poets had a go at it. Banjo fired them up!

Horse racing is part of the Great Story of Bush Poetry.... and one day when I get time...

I am a fan of Tex Morton, although I rarely admit it. He met Banjo Paterson at the horse races in Randwick, Sydney. They had several chats.

I am trying to consolidate and emphasise the importance of the world of The Spoken Word in bush poetry.

Recitations... what might be partly associated with today's ABPA performance poetry perhaps?

Tex was a prolific artist and he actually produced, among many other records listed on his discography, a magnificient double-album of his recitations of The Sentimental Bloke. C J Dennis. Rare. Bought one for $70 the other day .. pretty cheap considering.
Also got Peter O'Shaughnessy's rare recitation LP "The Songs of The Sentimental Bloke" Both lovely Dennis albums produced over 50 years ago.

Albums that are a must-have for any Dennis fan... or collector.

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