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  Family C-15: Myrtle

This is the oldest known colonial family, but its origins are cloudy. Vesta, born around 1822, is the earliest confirmed mare in the family. She was bred by Nicholas Bayly, who had received a commission in the New South Wales Corps in 1797, and had a somewhat tempestuous career in the Corps, first as a commander in the guard on the Barwell, enroute to Australia, and later as a rebel in the mutiny against Governor Bligh in 1808. During a period when those Bayly supported were on the rise, he obtained a grant of over 1,000 acres at South Creek, Cabramatta, which he named Bayly Park, and he managed to add an additional 1,000 acres adjacent to it. In addition to his political machinations, he married and established a family, and took part on the early races (1810 and 1811) at Hyde Park and Sydney, riding horses for Dr. D'Arcy Wentworth and his own horse.

Vesta was by Model, an arabian stallion imported from Bengal, India, by merchant William Browne, who owned Abbotsbury farm near Prospect (later owned by Charles Smith, and then by Thomas Icely), as well as various other properties in the Hunter Valley. Model was an early influence on bloodstock in Australia, getting racehorses and sire sons, and is also seen early in Family C -26. The identity of Vesta's dam is unclear. In the first volume of the Australian Stud Book, a daughter of Vesta, Maritana, is identified as "out of Vesta by Model (Arab) out of a mare imported by Mr. Badgery." James Badgery, born in England, had a grant of 800 acres on the opposite side of South Creek from Bayly Park. He owned a famous early race horse, the 13 -1/2 hand tall Rob Roy, and had an important early stud at his property, where the stallion Percy (1804, by Northumberland), stood. It is not clear whether, if the pedigree is true, the imported mare was from Great Britain, India, or elsewhere.

However, W.J. McFadden, a former keeper of the ASB, and the great Australasian turf historian Douglas Barrie both believed Vesta's dam was a mare bred at Abbotsbury Farm sometime between 1812 and 1815, known as Cariboo, by (Old) Hector, and out of a mare, born around 1803, by Rockingham; this Rockingham daughter, it is speculated, was out of an arabian or arabian-persian mare imported into Australia from either the Cape of Good Hope via the Brittania in 1793 or 1795, or from India, sometime between 1796 and 1800. This is the generally accepted history of the family. (Old) Hector was a persian or arabian stallion brought to Sydney by merchant Robert Campbell sometime around 1807, and is seen in many early pedigrees. Hector stood at the Bligh Street stables in Sydney under Campbell's ownership until 1812, when business reverses caused Campbell to sell this most famous of early colonial stallions to Dr. D'Arcy Wentworth (see Family C - 10), after which the horse stood both at Bligh Street and at Wentworth's Home Bush stud on the outskirts of Sydney. Rockingham is generally credited as being the first thoroughbred stallion imported into Australia, although his actual pedigree is unknown.

Whatever her antecedents, Vesta was at least half-arabian, and most likely had a great deal more of that blood, illustrating the importance of arabian blood in colonial bloodstock -- introduced a century later than oriental blood used in thoroughbred foundation breeding in England -- and its persistence over the centuries. For Bayly's son, Henry Bayley [an "e" was added to the last name], who succeeded his father as master of Bayly Park, Vesta was a good runner that beat some of the best horses of her time -- the "high-pressure nags" Currency Lad, Abdallah, Alraschid, and Highflyer -- in a sweepstakes over two miles in four heats. She was bred to Steeltrap (1815, imported 1823; by Scud (son of Beningbrough), sire of two English Derby winners), one of the most successful of early Australian stallions, who stood for many years at Charles Smith's Bungarribee, west of Paramatta, which Smith bought from Thomas Icely in 1832. Smith, who made a great deal of money in various colonial enterprises and dominated the Sydney racing scene in the 1830s and early '40s, purchased Abbotsbury Farm in 1836, and a few years later Bayly Park. Other great stallions that stood at Bungarribee when in Smith's ownership included Rous' Emigrant, Theorem, and Emancipation. Vesta's brother, Australian, had a notable win in the Two Year Old Stakes in 1825, and was unbeaten at Parramatta in 1827, which included winning a famous match race against Abdallah (by Abdallah, an arabian).

The result of the Vesta-Steeltrap union at Bayly Park was Miss Devil, that became an ancestress of Ravenswood (1876), a winner of the AJC Randwick Stakes. The more important offspring of this cross was Matilda, born around 1827. She was a good runner that "occupied a prominent position on the local turf," winning races at Hawkesbury and Parramatta in 1832. Bred to the successful racehorse and sire Whisker (1828, by Whisker), imported by Bayley as a yearling, Matilda produced the famous "Iron Gelding" Jorrocks (see below). Her daughters, at Henry Baley's new stud, also called Bayley Park, at Beaudesert, near Mudgee, bred on. Vesta (by Sir Watkins), in the stud of John Cleeve (who bought Bungarribee Stud from the estate of Charles Smith), became the dam of Medora (by Velocity) and Sir Watkin (by Purston), who was sent to New Zealand where he got the ARC Easter Handicap winner Bide-a-Wee (1871). Norna (by St. John) established a fairly long-lasting branch in Queensland that included Queensland Brisbane Cup winning brothers Lancer (1880) and Lyndhurst (1883), both by Westminster, and Recovery (1890, by Phil Athol), winner of the QTC Hopeful Stakes.

But it was an unnamed filly out of Matilda, by Mentor, born in 1850, that continued the family line. Her grandaughter, Countess (1860, by Pitsford), and Countess' daughter, Myrtle (1869, by Gemma di Vergy), were bred at Charles Tindal's (see also Family C - 12) Ramornie stud in the Clarence River district. Myrtle won the AJC Doncaster Handicap in 1874. Her brother, Viscount (1874), won the 1878 Epsom Handicap and other races at Randwick. Myrtle ended up back in the Mudgee district, in the Rouse stud, Biraganbil. There she produced the good runner and sire, Little Bernie (see below), a daughter, Cerise and Blue, winner of the AJC Sydney Cup and other races, and two other daughters that continued the family line. Through her daughters the family did very well on the turf at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, after which, with few exceptions, it fell into obscurity. Bogan Hero (1966, by Secret Kingdom), a winner of 20 races, including the STC Canterbury Guineas and the Frank Underwood Cup, was the most noted of recent runners, and some descendants of his dam, Miss Furdan, are still extant.

Notable Descendants




Acrasia b.f. 1897
(Gozo - Cerise and Blue)
Bred and raced by legendary Australian bookmaker Henry Oxenham, she won the 1904 Melbourne Cup, the only older mare to do so until Makybe Diva; she carried the light weight of 7 st-6 lb, winning by 3/4 of a length in a field of 34 horses. Her win in this race -- in record time to that date -- saved Oxenham from ruin by the bets he made on her winning at odds of 14:1. She also ran second in the 1904 Caulfield Cup to Murmer, owned by another notorious gambler and bookmaker, John Wren. Her dam, Cerise and Blue, another good staying mare owned by Oxenham, won the AJC All-Aged Stakes and the AJC Sydney Cup in record time in 1886, but Oxenham had lost a fortune on her when he backed her at £100,000 to win the Melbourne Cup in 1885. Acrasia's sister, Syerla (1894) won the AJC Doncaster Handicap for Oxenham. Another sister, Shopwoman (1898), became the dam of The Shifter (1905), winner of the 14 furlong Adelaide Alderman Cup.

Betsy Burke b.f. 1902
(Le Var - Laura)
Successful race mare in western Australia, her dam was a sister to Acrasia (see above). She won the WATC Settlers' Stakes, Karrakatta Plate and All-Aged Stakes in her first unbeaten season, and went on to win the Railway Stakes at Perth when it was 12 furlongs in 1902. The WATC Betsy Burke Handicap is named in her honor. The good Adelaide runner, Royal Decree (1937), twice winner of the Parkside Stakes and also winner of the Cheltenham Stakes (10 furlongs), descended from Betsy Burke.

Blue Cross b.g. 1913
(Linacre - Lady in Blue)
Blue Cross was age four when he was purchased from the estate of A.M. Foster for Charles B. Kellow for 470 guineas by Foster's trainer, J. Holt. Kellow had ventured into horse racing in 1909 with steeplechasers, having been in his youth a leading racing cyclist and early motorist, setting long-distance motor records between Melbourne and Sydney. His interest in automobiles led to his development of a lucrative motor distribution firm, Kellow Falkiner Co., which made him financially well-off. Trained by Holt, Blue Cross proved a good sprinter, winning the 1919 AvJC Avondale Cup (6 furlongs), and in 1920 and 1921 the VRC Standish Handicap (6 furlongs). Kellow was known in the racing world as the person who paid 16,000 guineas, a record price, for the great chestnut runner Heroic, who won a number of races for him after 1925; although Heroic stood at H.S. Thompson's Tarwyn Park Stud at Rylstone, NSW, he was leased by Thompson from Kellow, who owned the important stallion until his death, and who bred one of Heroic's best sons, Melbourne Cup winner Hall Mark, winner of 17 races and second 16 times.

Jorrocks b.g. 1833
(Whisker - Matilda)
The legendary "Iron Gelding" was bred at Bayly Park stud at South Creek, NSW prior to its move to Beaudesert near Mudgee (where it was called "Bayley" Park) . Because the South Creek property was sold to noted breeder Charles Smith in 1836, it's probable the sale of the land and some of the stock disrupted Jorrock's early training; he was started at age four and used as a stockhorse. He was described as a "long, low horse of only 14.2 hands, with grand sloping shoulders, a deep girth, short back, muscular quarters and legs like iron." Demonstrating both speed and endurance, he was entered, at age 5, in a sweepstakes at the Coolah race meeting in 1838, where he easily won. Shipped off to the Windsor trainer Joseph "Old" Brown, he was seen by Richard Rouse, Sr., who traded eight heifers, worth about £40, for him. At the beginning of his true career, Jorrocks ran in the colors of Rouse's son, John Richard Rouse, but later passed through the hands of many owners, although he was always stabled at Clarendon, near Windsor, walking an estimated 6,000 miles to racing centers during his long career, which lasted until the age of nineteen. No one knows how many races he actually ran, or his complete winning record, but his recorded wins are sixty five, including six walkovers, and twenty-two seconds from at least 95 starts, at large and small venues, from Homebush, Mudgee, Carcoar and Bathurst, to Hawkesbury and Sydney. Most of his races were heats over distances between one and four miles, carrying heavy weights. He was enormously popular, the subject of poems and was the first to be illustrated in the popular press. Among his many wins were the AJC Australian Plate (5 times), the Bathurst Town Plate (four times) and the Homebush Champion Cup, Cumberland Cup, Metropolitan Stakes, Hawkesbury Members' Purse and Town Plate, the Bathurst Publicans Purse and Ladies Purse, all of these latter races two times. Despite his understandably lagging prowess at age 17, winning four of eight races and placing second three times, and age 18, winning once because his only opponent threw his rider and placing last (second and third) in two of his three other races, he was hauled out again at age 19, by his new owner A. Thompson, to run in the Metrpolitan Handicap at Homebush, but trailed the field. He was finally retired to Clifton Stud, Richmond, and lived to the age of 27, a legend in his own time. His grave is marked by a memorial stone at the R.A.A.F. Richmond Air Base. His sire, Whisker (1828, by Whisker) was imported by Bayley as a yearling, won races for Bayley, including the prestigious Governor's Purse at Botany Road, and at Bayley Park became the sire of many good horses and broodmares. His dam was Matilda, bred at Bayley Park.

Little Bernie b.c. 1886
(Cheviot - Myrtle)
Bred by Richard Rouse, Jr., at Biraganbil, he was a good solid stayer who won the AJC Metrpolitan Stakes in record time when it was still a two mile race, and also winner of the 12 furlong AJC Summer Cup. Retired to F. Darley's stud in Queensland, where he was enormously successful, getting many Queensland classic winners and several winners of the 16 furlong Brisbane Cup, the Moreton Handicap, and QTC King's Cup and every other important race in the state. His most noted offspring probably Balfour (1899), winner of the Queensland Guineas, Derby, St. Leger, Queensland Cup, Stanley Plate, and King's Cup; Boreas II (1895), who won the Brisbane Cup, the Moreton Handicap, QTC King's Cup, QTC Spring Stakes, QTC Claret Stakes, QTC Stradbroke Handicap, and Queensland Guineas; and the siblings out of Czarina (Family C -13). Despite his isolation in Queensland and the low purse values there, he made the top ten on the Australian sire's list twice (dominated by imported stallions), in 1902-3, and 1905-6. Little Bernie was the best get of his sire, the New Zealand-bred Cheviot (by Traducer), who was a brother to Sir Modred. Both Cheviot and Sir Modred ended up in California.

Marvel b.c. 1886
(Marvellous - La Belle )
Marvel and his dam, La Belle, were bred at the Rouse stud Biraganbil, Mudgee, by Richard Rouse Jr., who assumed management of the stud after the death of his father, George. His sire, imported Marvellous (1870, by Blarney; imported 1877), stood at Charles Baldwin's Diniwarindi Stud. Marvel, raced by George Hill, was a champion miler that could also stay; at age four he beat the great Carbine in the AJC All-Aged Stakes (8 furlongs) by four lengths, but Carbine ran unshod in that race because of his sore heel, and the testy horse tried to savage Marvel as he headed back to the birdcage after the race; that afternoon Carbine, shod, beat Marvel in the 2 mile Cumberland Stakes (two ran), his third win of that race. But Marvel went on to glory at age five, winning many races under high imposts, including the AJC Epsom Handicap (carrying 10 st- 2 lbs), the AJC Craven Plate (10 furlongs), the AJC Doncaster Handicap (beating a field of 36 carrying 10 st - 4 lbs over 8 furlongs), the AJC Cumberland Stakes , the VATC Caulfield Stakes (9 furlongs), the VRC Melbourne Stakes (10 furlongs), and the VRC Royal Park Stakes (13 furlongs). His brother, Blarney Stone (1889), was a good stayer that won the 14 furlong AJC Summer Cup and the 16 furlong Tattersall's Club Cup. His sister, Party (1884), was the dam of the gelded VATC Toorak Handicap and Oakleigh Plate winner Irishman (1905).

Descent Chart

Bold=winners of stakes races and important handicap and weight-for-age races

Mare [imported from Cape or India]
 Mare (f. c1803) by Rockingham
  Cariboo (f. c1812) by Old Hector [Arabian]
   Vesta (f. c1822) by Model [Arabian]
   | Miss Devil (f. 18-) by Steeltrap
   | | Modus (f. 18--) by Bashaw
   | |  Black Sal (f. 18-) by Cossack
   | |   Dolly Varden (f. 18-) by New Warrior
   | |    Ravenswood (b.c. 1876) by Maribyrnong
   | Matilda (f. c1827) by Steeltrap
   |  Vesta (f. 18-) by Sir Watkins
   |  | Sir Watkin (c. 1860) by Purston
   |  Norna (f. 183-) by St. John
   |  | Colleen Bawn (f. 1859) by Sailor
   |  |  Linnet (f. 1872) by Kelpie
   |  |   Lydia (f. 1877) by Westminster
   |  |   | Recovery (b.c. 1890) by Phil Athol
   |  |   Lancer (b.g. 1880) by Westminster
   |  |   Lyndhurst (b.c. 1883) by Westminster
   |  Jorrocks (b.g. 1833) by Whisker
   |  Mare (f. 1840 ) by Mentor
   |   Mare (f. 1853) by Sailor
   |    Countess (f. 1860) by Pitsford
   |     Myrtle (b.f. 1869) by Gemma di Vergy
   |     | La Belle (br.f. 1876) by Maribyrnong
   |     | | Party (f. 1884) by Marvellous
   |     | | | Nova Percei (f.1899) by Nobleman
   |     | | | | Dai 3 Nova Percei (f. 1912) by Information
   |     | | | |  Dai 4 Nova Percei (f. 1921) by The Viking
   |     | | | |   Cover Cei (f. 1931) by Kano
   |     | | | |    Kawakaze (f. 1937) by Yamamasa
   |     | | | |     Daini Kawakaze (f. 1943) by Hakuyu
   |     | | | |     Sumino Hana (f. 1955) by Ulalele
   |     | | | Yeulba (c. 1904) by Havoc
   |     | | | Irishman (br.g. 1905)
   |     | | Marvel (br.c. 1886) by Marvellous
   |     | | Blarney Stone (br.c. 1889) by Marvellous
   |     | Cerise and Blue (b.f. 1881) by Wilberforce
   |     | | Laura (f. 1891) by Niagara
   |     | | | Betsy Burke (b.f. 1902) by Le Var
   |     | | |  Milly Hilton (f. 1910) by Wallace
   |     | | |  | Lady Lansdowne (f. 1916) by De Gama
   |     | | |  |  Lady Denland (f. 1927) by Denacre
   |     | | |  |   Royal Decree (blk.g. 1937) by Magna Carta
   |     | | |  Warree (f. 1920) by Rathlea
   |     | | Syerla (b.f. 1894) by Gozo
   |     | | Acrasia (b.f. 1897) by Gozo
   |     | | Shopwoman (b.f. 1898) by Gozo
   |     | |  The Shifter (c. 1905) by Grafton
   |     | Blue and Cerise (b.f. 1885) by Marvellous
   |     | | Lady Cerise (f. 1892) by Kitawa
   |     | |  Lady in Blue (f. 1905) by Grafton
   |     | |   Blue Cross (b.g. 1913) by Linacre
   |     | |   Baby Blue (f. 1919) by Aleconner
   |     | |    Cisterian Lass (f. 1929) by Ciserian
   |     | |     Ascot Royal (f. 1943) by Harinero
   |     | |      Miss Furdan (f. 1953) by Furdan
   |     | |      | Bogan Hero (br.c. 1966) by Secret Kingdom
   |     | |     Sea Blue (f. 1944) by Sea Tonic
   |     | Little Bernie (b.c. 1886) by Cheviot
   |     Viscount (b.c. 1874) by Gemma di Vergy
   Australian (c. 1823) by Model [Arabian]

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