As a school boy, I often stayed for weeks at a time with my uncle, Mr. Ratcliffe Pring, at Hodgson Terrace, George Street. He was, after the death of Sir Joshua Bell, in 1881, president of the Queensland Turf Club.
Long before that, he owned race horses, and won the champion stakes at Ipswich in the 1860s with his horse called North Australian, trained by the late James McGill, of Ipswich. I often went with Mr. Pring to Ipswich to see Sir Joshua Bell’s stud at The Grange, and call to mind some of the racing string, Waterloo, Ledgerdemain, Wheatear, Immigrant, Lilla, Olivia, and others.
After Sir Joshua Bell’s death in 1881, The Grange was sold to Mr. W. H. Kent, of Brisbane, who was a keen supporter of the turf. He had Kent’s sale yards at the corner of Adelaide and Albert Streets, and built Kent’s buildings opposite. The sale yards afterwards were acquired by Mr. Lionel Walker, the famous auctioneer, who also raced at Eagle Farm.
I remember the gay times when the May meeting was held and the Cup run, Mr. James Tait and Mr. A. Loder always brought good horses from the south and besides, Sir J. P. Bell, we had Messrs. John Finney, and J. P. Jost, with their champions.
I recall two dead heats for the Cup. On one occasion, Mr. Tait’s Strathearn and Mr. Loder’s The Dean, ran a dead heat, and on another occasion, Mr. Finney’s Sydney and Mr. Henderson’s Orphan Boy ran a dead heat.
Mr. Pring owned The Earl, a beautiful looking horse but unreliable, which often bolted off the course when entering the straight, near what was called the Sod Wall used in the steeplechases.
Judge Lutwyche was a racing enthusiast and had Master Mariner. The judge suffered severely from gout, and his low set carriage was always drawn up on the lawn near the judge’s box, so that he had a good view of the races.
Many often went to the races at Eagle Farm by steamer. The Francis Cadell ran between Bright Bros. Wharf, Eagle Street, and the Hamilton, and patrons walked up to the course. There was always a jolly party on board on the return trip.
The Queensland Turf Club had hurdle races in those days, and Mr. D. T. Seymour, Commissioner of Police, owned a successful jumper called Standard. Mr. Maurice Lyons, solicitor, owned Blantyre, and Gamester, Mr. A. Crouch, a barber, had Mark Twain, Mr. Ernest Goertz, Mr. Herbert Hunter, Theorist and Grey, and William Ruddle Old Zanco, that won many a race at the Farm and elsewhere.
Another horse I remember, was The Rake, owned by Mr. Joe Abrahams. With the exception of Sir J. P. Bell, a legal gentleman has occupied the presidency of the Turf club.