Breeders header





 Turf Hallmarks


 Genetic Markers




 Search our site

 E-mail us


Breeders and Breeding

Marcel Boussac

The Dukes of Grafton

Georg von Lehndorff

J.J. Maher: an Irish Breeder

The Rothschilds

History of the Australian Stud Book

  East India Company and Early Breeding in Australia

Racing and Breeding in South Africa

Foundation Breeders

  Notes on Early Running Horses

  Early Running Horses: Helmsley

  The Studmaster of North Yorkshire

  Horsemen of East and West Riding
   and Ainsty of York

Related Links

Colonial Foundation Mares

Horse Racing in Australia

Australian Race Charts

New Zealand Race Charts

Leading Sires in Australia

Leading Sires in New Zealand


  History of the Australian Stud Book: Part I

Australian Stud Book  title

By Michael Ford, Keeper of the Australian Stud Book
June 2006

©Australian Stud Book, 2006. This information remains the property of the Joint Proprietors of the Australian Stud Book, being the Australian Jockey Club and the Victoria Racing Club. It must not be used for any purpose without their written permission.

The Australian Stud Book has a pedigree as long as some of the horses contained in it. For the first seventy years it was mostly 'kept' by one family and over the last fifty five years it has only had four 'keepers'. It ranks second to the American Stud Book with its 30,000 broodmares, 18,000 foals and nearly 20,000 breeders but could rank first for services to breeders. The early history of the Australian Stud Book is the history of the men who established and nurtured it, and they lived interesting lives. From the early principle of "express purpose of preserving an official record of the breeding industry in Australia and of assisting to improve the standard of the blood horse in the country" to "ensuring the integrity of thoroughbred breeding in Australia," there has been much change to the way the Australian Stud Book operates.

Early colonial stud books

From the earliest time, breeding was a most important factor in the development of a satisfactory standard of racing in Australia. Initially, details of matings and bloodlines were recorded in a haphazard way. Although the first race meeting in Australia is generally regarded as being held in October 1810 at Hyde Park, Sydney, twenty two years after the first settlement, it was not until 1842 that any attempt was made to establish a Stud Book. The newly formed Australian Jockey Club deemed it desirable that a Stud Book for the colony be established and requested horse identification details from breeders but nothing came of the AJC's project.

As the nation grew and each state emerged, the settlement of rural land intensified and the local race club became an integral part of community life. Land was set aside for the racecourse and soon racecourses were located right throughout the country. At one stage there were over 500 race clubs operating. The Principal Racing Clubs grew from the need for leadership and consistent rules and the major clubs in the capital cities tended to take this role. Gradually the Principal Racing Clubs became the arbitrator in solving troubling racing questions and formulated local rules within each state which were expected to be followed by all clubs. This led to the Australian Rules of Racing and the Local Rules of each club.
NSW Stud Book title page

The Principal Racing Clubs were the genesis of the current Australian Racing Board which administers the Australian Rules of Racing and estimates are that breeding and racing today is a $7 billion industry, employing some 240,000 people, holding over 22,000 races annually, with 454 raceclubs and a gross annual attendance of 1.7million, which is the second highest of any sport in Australia apart from Australian Football. Three of the colonies, Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria, commenced stud books which could not be sustained.

Tasmanian Stud Book

Despite a Mr Chisholm's early call in 1812 in the Sydney Gazette to those "desirous of improving their breed of horses", the first published stud book in Australia was the Tasmanian Stud Book, compiled in 1836 by Henry Rawlings, Clerk of the Course to the Tasmanian Turf Club. In 1847, the Tasmanian Race Club appointed one of its officers, WT MacMichael, as Keeper of the Stud Book, but no further stud books appeared in print. It was obvious there was a need for a stud book, but compiling was harder than it looked, even in a small state like Tasmania.

NSW Stud Book

Seventeen years after the AJC's call for a Stud Book, Fowler Boyd Price succeeded in publishing Volume 1 of the Stud Book of New South Wales in 1859, offered not as a universal stud book, nor perfectly free of error, but confident it contained the most concise and approved collection of authentic pedigree information. Price decided that, due to the paucity of records of imported horses and breeders' own records, the only broodmares he would allow in the book were those which were wholly thoroughbred. This meant many mares, bordering on being wholly thoroughbred, were omitted.

Harry P Mostyn compiled and edited a second volume in 1868 which was published by Bell's Sporting Life, and in which he begged forgiveness for the delay and the number of errors caused by studmasters holding back information. The Agricultural Society of New South Wales published a third in 1873, compiled by Edward King Cox and John Agar Scarr. Both volumes suffered from the same fate as other colonial stud books: lack of co-operation and hostility. Cox, a principal of Fernhill Stud, and Scarr an AJC handicapper, took "nothing on trust where it could be verified by search."

The AJC, in 1860, established 1st August as the official birthdate of all horses born in Australia, to correct the climactic, breeding and pastoral imbalances caused by the Northern Hemisphere's 1st January birthday.

Victorian Stud Book

Around 1859, William Levey edited Volume 1 of the Victorian Stud Book, published by Bell's Sporting Life, which ran for four volumes, the last in 1875 compiled by William Yuille junior, sporting editor of the Melbourne Weekly Times, also apologising for the delay in publication. He thanked WE Dakin for his wonderful knowledge of pedigrees of English horses. Could this be the trainer of Darriwell, winner of the 1879 Melbourne Cup, and brother of Frank F Dakin, VRC Handicapper who later helped with the Australian Stud Book?

This Stud Book also was restricted to thoroughbreds only. Yuille was assisted with the compilation by a number of interested subscribers, including men whose names live on through races in recognition of their services to racing, being RC Bagot (VRC Secretary), TS Clibborn (AJC Secretary) and CB Fisher, who had a Plate named after him, which is now the VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Origin of the Keeper title

Where did the word 'Keeper' come from? It is thought that it had its origins when racing in England, over three hundred years ago, was mainly a match race between two horses. Often at major meetings, there were as many as 24 match races of two horses with stakes ranging from £200 to £2,000, an enormous amount of money. It was therefore imperative that meticulous records be kept. The results were kept by the Keeper of the Match Book, James Weatherby, having this role in 1770. He was also Secretary to The Jockey Club. As interest in the breeding of these horses grew so did the role of the Keeper, to become Keeper of the Stud Book.

The first Keeper was James' nephew, James Weatherby who published Volume 1 of the General Stud Book in 1791. The Weatherby family still own and manage the General Stud Book and provide a secretariat service to British racing, handling nominations, acceptances, results as well as breeding records.

Until 1947, the Keeper of the Stud Book in Australia was also the Registrar of Racehorses, before the naming function was divided up to the states and compiled under the Registrar of Racehorses, centralised at the Australian Jockey Club. Racing Information Services Australia, owned by the state racing authorities, now carries out this function thereby providing the Stud Book with independent integrity without conflict or compromise.

Compilers and Keepers of the Stud Book

Compiler Notes Years Volumes
William C. Yuille founder 1878 1
Archibald Yuille son of founder 1882 2 to 9
Keeper Notes Years Volumes
A.P. Wilson   1909 10
Leslie G. Rouse Died in office 1914 11 to 14
Gordon McKellar Died in office 1927 15
A. Loddon Yuille Grandson of founder 1927 16 to 21
Walter J. McFadden Retired 1949 22 to 35
Roderick Page Resigned 1985 36
John Digby Retired 1988 37 to 40
Michael Ford Current 2004 41

William Cross Yuille

William Cross Yuille was born in Glasgow in 1819 and emigrated to Hobart in 1836 with his cousin Archibald Buchanan Yuille. They bought 2,000 merino sheep and shipped them to Geelong in 1837 but trouble with the aborigines around the Barwon River forced them to move on to Ballarat in 1838 along with Henry Anderson, one of the first white settlers to do so. It appears Yuille had a falling out with Anderson and set up a separate camp on the corner of now Pleasant Street and Wendouree Parade which today is marked by an obelisk outside the State school. Known as Black Swamp or Yuille's Swamp then, it is now the beautiful Lake Wendouree. The name Wendouree comes from the aboriginal word 'wendaaree' which means 'go away'. A story is told that when William Yuille asked an aboriginal woman the name of the swamp, that was her reply. He established his sheep station 'Ballaarat' around present day Ballarat and Sebastopol..

William Yuille The following year Yuille travelled to New Zealand, became caught up in incidents around the Treaty of Waitangi with Maoris, returned to Melbourne and sailed for England in 1840. After his return in 1842, William established a mercantile firm with James Oliphant Denny which took up the Right Run station at the Rockbank run and where William lived until he returned to England in 1853 having sold all his stations to his cousin Archibald. William married Denny's daughter Mary and six of their eleven children were born at Rockbank. He took them all back to Scotland in 1853 where they lived for five years, later returning to Australia to reside in Williamstown, Victoria.

Yuille became one of the principal pastoralists of Victoria, a turf expert and a respected bloodstock agent. One of his first experiences in racing was in 1839 when he matched his horse Nobby against a mare from Tasmania, owned by William Wood for £25 stakes and breakfast for a dozen people. Not only did Nobby win, but he kept running along the banks of the Yarra after he passed the winning-post. Yuille became interested in breeding thoroughbreds from around 1842 and was a member of the Port Philip Turf Club which conducted racing in the area known as Melbourne Racecourse, subsequently to become Flemington. Historian Andrew Lemon, credits Yuille, along with James Purves, as doing the most to introduce new racehorses to Victoria in the early years.

Yuille, on one of his return trips to England, imported the stallion Warhawk and the broodmare Gaslight. Apparently, when his top racehorse Flying Buck won the Australasian Championship Stakes over three miles in 1860, Yuille walked away with over £7,000 in winning bets. It won by seven lengths, leading all the way with a very light weight. The following year Flying Buck won the Victorian St Leger. The Championship win was the first time that racing made sporting headlines, appearing in Bell's Life In Sydney. However, at the next start Flying Buck was beaten and the jockey asserted that Yuille instructed him not to win, only to retract the statement explaining that bookmakers had forced him to say it. Yuille took the jockey back into his stable, which added to everyone's suspicions, but the case was never satisfactorily resolved and damaged the goodwill Yuille had earned to date.

Yuille used the proceeds of the earlier winnings to purchase Melbourne's best-known sporting bookshop, Kirk's Bazaar at 47 West Bourke Street. He owned Toryboy, which was unplaced in Archer's Melbourne Cup wins of 1861 and 1862, but unfortunately for him he sold it before it won the 1865 Cup.

William closed his racing establishment in 1866 to take up the position of principal sporting writer for the Australasian newspaper, writing under the nom-des plumes of 'Peeping Tom' and 'Playboy.' He was a Victoria Racing Club steward and handicapper and a member of Tattersalls' Committee until 1881. He established the bloodstock firm William Yuille & Company in 1873 with his sons Archie and Albert. One of the firm's most notable transactions was the disposal of Maribrynong Stud in 1878 for £84,000. Eventually, William undertook to produce an Australian Stud Book. The firm, situated in Melbourne's Bourke Street West, later became Wright Stephenson's, then Wrightson Bloodstock and is known today as New Zealand Bloodstock. It was at these offices that he edited Volumes 3 and 4 of the Victorian Stud Book, published Volume 1 of the Australian Stud Book and assisted his son Archie with its next four volumes.

William Cross Yuille died in 1894 aged 75, his wife Mary dying five years earlier, William's contribution to Australian racing and breeding being a lasting legacy.

Archibald Yuille

William Yuille had barely begun work on the project when he lost his son William junior who accidentally drowned. Young William had edited the last two volumes of the Victorian Stud Book. One of the elder William's other six sons, and a member of his firm, Archibald (Archie) Yuille, a VRC committeeman and treasurer, helped his father to publish Volume 1 of the Australian Stud Book, containing over 2,000 mares which had been at stud in the last 60 years, in 1878. Archie was also a recognised auctioneer of note with considerable expertise. He referred to himself as 'The Compiler' and when the AJC and VRC took over the ownership in 1910 they adopted the English title of Keeper of the Stud Book for its appointees.

Archibald Yuille Archie was eventually honoured with life membership of the Victoria Racing Club and was responsible for compiling and publishing the next eight volumes of the Australian Stud Book up to 1909 with the assistance of Frank Dakin, a VRC handicapper, from 1880 until his death in 1901 during the compilation of Volume 8, in which Archie pays tribute. Dakin, a native of Somersetshire, with previous military experience, arrived in Melbourne in 1871. The format decided by Archie, based on the General Stud Book of England, has changed little in over 125 years. His policy was to keep the breed as pure as possible and gradually eliminate the doubtful elements at Australian studs.

While most horses traced to mares in the General Stud Book of England, certain Australian bred mares of unknown pedigree were accepted as colonial taproot mares due to the excellence of their progeny. These included Sappho, Yatterina, Adeline, Betty, Black Swan and the Steeltrap Mare. Even today, Yatterina's descendants have produced 134 winners of 316 major races including Commissionaire, March Legend and Regal Rhythm, while Sappho has 130 winners of 223 major races. In addition, some English mares with incomplete pedigrees such as Cutty Sark, the ancestress of Dalray plus another 101 major racewinners, were accepted.

Of those excluded altogether, their current owners were paying the penalty of their breeders' carelessness and neglect in keeping satisfactory records. The Yuilles consistently called for a regulated naming system as many horses around Australia carried the same name and many others had their names changed regularly, which Archie Yuille referred to as "the interminable repetition of names." Archie had also complained in Volume 9 about breeders "unblushingly submitting impossible pedigrees, and indignant letters received when they have been refused ."

The scope of Volume 1 was to not only include the broodmares of the colonies which were not yet united but also those of New Zealand in a time when communication facilities were unsophisticated. It is not a well-known fact that the Australian Stud Book included the New Zealand Stud Book in Volumes 1 to 6, until 1900, integrated with Australian mares. Carbine (NZ) 1985, for instance, is first recorded in ASB volume 4, page 246, under his dam Mersey.

A. Loddon Yuille

Nearly twenty years later, another family member, Albert Loddon Yuille, a son of Archie, in 1927 renewed the family's long association with racing and breeding in Australia, publishing, as Keeper, Volumes 16 to 21 of the Australian Stud Book until he retired in December 1949 due to ill-health. Known as A. Loddon Yuille, he was appointed Keeper of the Australian Stud Book and Registrar of Racehorses from 180 applicants. He died in July, 1950.

A. Loddon Yuille In 1948 Loddon had views of the benefits of an international stud book committee, whereby officials from the major thoroughbred producing countries could work out an agreement suitable to all, to enable the acceptance of horses. It was not until 1976 that the International Stud Book Committee convened and it has functioned ever since.

Loddon was a prominent racehorse owner, his best being Redditch, winner of the 1933 VRC Grand National Steeplechase, and the 1933 and 1934 Australian Steeplechase, carrying the family colours pink with a black cap. Redditch was a crowd favourite and to everyone's horror crashed to his death during a steeplechase. Loddon had also been connected with the bloodstock sales firm of William Yuille Company for a number of years.

Prior to Loddon, there were three Keepers AP Wilson (Volume 10), Leslie G Rouse (Volume 11 to 14), and Gordon McKellar (Volume 15). Rouse, an AJC committeeman was renowned for his vast knowledge of pedigrees and remarkable accuracy, and came from a family with long associations with the turf of New South Wales. He introduced, in Volume 11, extended pedigrees of all new broodmares tracing to their approved taproot or colonial mare to assist breeders.

During the 1920s, Rouse introduced a time limit in which to lodge mare returns. Initially, it was to be by 31 July, but this was brought forward to 31 March. Later, the date crept forward another month to 28 February, right up until 1986 when it changed to within 15 days of foaling. As breeders complained this was too burdensome, it was soon extended to 30 days, the current reporting time.

1946 Mare Return Form Mare Return form for 1946 from Sir Ernest Lee-Steere, WA,
including his Caulfield Cup-winning mare Magpie
Click Here to Enlarge
1953 Stallion Service Card Star Kingdom's 1953 service card, 39 mares covered:
the chestnut colt from Oceana is the champion Todman and
High Stakes' black colt is Gold Stakes Click Here to Enlarge

Australian Stud Book Keepers Keepers since 1949

Jim McFadden followed Loddon in 1949 and was Keeper of the Stud Book until he retired in 1985. He arrived at the AJC in 1947 as Deputy Keeper, fresh out of Sydney University with a degree in veterinary science. Born in Brisbane, raised in Sydney and educated at North Sydney High School, Jim's father owned one horse. Jim still enjoys doing his form and attending carnival days at Royal Randwick Racecourse with his wife, Laurie. Jim was also the AJC's official raceday veterinarian so he was very closely connected to the outcome of the many horses recorded in the stud book.

Roderick Page took over for three years producing Volume 36 until John Digby became seventh keeper in 1988, producing Volumes 37 to 40.

John Digby brought modern management practices to the organisation combining this with regular communication with industry stakeholders such as the professional breeders and veterinary associations, commercial breeding associations, race club officials, stewards, and any professional whose advice would be useful. This enabled Digby to bring about significant change to the age-old identification system for thoroughbreds, the benefits of which will be felt more than twenty years down the track.

Michael Ford became eighth Keeper of the Stud Book in 2004 after a twenty-year apprenticeship as Deputy Keeper and has focused on upgrading and extending the online returns system as well as the production of identification cards for unnamed racehorses, and breeders' registered brands.

The achievements of these Keepers will be looked at later.

History of the ASB Part I History of the ASB Part II

Home   Historic Sires   Historic Dams   Portraits   Turf Hallmarks   Breeders   Genetics   Resources   Contributors   Search   Store   E-mail

©2006 Thoroughbred Heritage. All rights reserved.