Betting on Australian Bangtails
by Cornelius Russell Bartholomew
Watching the recent Kentucky Derby
reminded me of a BONEFISH shipmate and my first Australian race. Uncle
Joe MacMillan raised and raced thoroughbreds. One he called "Silent
Service" and another "Captain Tommy," after Bonefish's
skipper Thomas W. Hogan. Both horses ran in the money on occasion but
never made the big show in Kentucky.
A bunch of us from SARGO wound up
at the track in Perth one afternoon in 1942 and decided to try our luck.
If you remember, most all places of business in Perth closed on Saturday
afternoons for the races. I put a quid down on a likely looking prospect
in the first race. As soon as I heard "they're off," I knew I
was in trouble. "They're running the wrong way" a shipmate
shouted. Charlie became my bettlebomb. I lost twenty pounds that day;
the money kind, not fat.
Another day at the track I met this
knowledgeable Sheila. "Yank, my uncle owns the son of Phar Lap. Bet
on him to win." She assured me that this nag would win because her
cousin is the jockey, another cousin the groom, and another uncle the
Well, this tip didn't pan out, nor
did other tips offered throughout the day, and I would end up losing ten
pounds. However, I figure I gained it all back through her
"favors" that night. I never bet on another race.
If you remember, Phar Lap was
always talked about in Australia. The horse crowd claimed he was the
world's best. The owner shipped him to the states for the Derby.
Unfortunately, the horse died in Kentucky before the race. The Aussies
claim he was poisoned.