The Beauford Club of Newcastle was established in April 1982. The aim of its establishment was “to promote fellowship amongst persons interested in Racing; and to hold meetings, luncheons and sporting activities, from time to time, to promote the sport”.
The Beauford Club was modeled on the Carbine Clubs of New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand, and the Bernborough Club of Queensland. Note that each of these clubs is named in honour of a champion racehorse from yesteryear, which begs the question, “Why Beauford for Newcastle?” The following seeks to answer that question by telling the story of Beauford.
The Foaling of Beauford
Beauford was foaled over 100 years ago in the spring of 1916 at the height of the Great War when young Australian diggers were enduring the unspeakable deprivations and atrocities in the mud of the killing fields of the Western Front.
Beauford was a brown colt by Beau Soult (NZ) out of a 9 year old mare, Blueford (AUS). He was bred by the Mackay Family at the Tinagroo stud, northwest of Scone.
Beauford’s Racing Record
The gelding won no less than 17 races in the period between 5th April 1920 and 1st September 1923 at Maitland, Newcastle and Sydney over distances from 6 furlongs (c. 1200m) to 1½ miles (c. 2400m), statistics worthy of a champion racehorse.
Notable races won by Beauford which are still run today include the Tramway Handicap, the Hill Stakes, the Epsom Handicap, the Craven Plate, the Rawson Stakes, the All-Aged Stakes, the Chelmsford Stakes and the Cameron Handicap.
In late August 1922 press reports stated that Beauford had been heavily supported for that year’s Melbourne Cup, having ruled as favourite since weights were announced, but that he would not run as his owner and trainer had decided to focus on weight-for-age races.
Beauford v Gloaming – To Decide “Best Horse in Australia”
Whilst Beauford is acknowledged as a champion performer on the turf in his own right, it is his clashes with another great racehorse, the gelding Gloaming foaled a year earlier than Beauford, which set the racing world alight at the time and are still remembered as legendary today.
Some say the four times these two horses competed against each other was a planned contrivance set up at the start of the 1922 Sydney spring carnival by Mr G D Greenwood, the Kiwi owner of Gloaming who at that stage had raced 48 times for 42 wins, and Mr W H Mackay, the owner of Gloaming’s younger and rising rival. The two owners decided to race their horses against each other four times in the spring to decide which was the best horse in Australia. Each owner considered that their horse could not be beaten by any horse other than that of the other owner. This proved to be correct!
Round One – The Chelmsford Stakes (about 1800m, WFA)
The Newcastle horse was 10/9 on and Gloaming 2/1. The rider of Gloaming tried to pinch a break on the home turn of the Sydney Tattersalls track but Beauford gradually drew level and grabbed Gloaming on the line to win by ¼ of a length. The first of the other 14 well performed weight-for-age horses was beaten by 12 lengths.
Round Two – The Hill Stakes (about 1600m, Handicap)
One week later at Rosehill, Gloaming had a 7lb pull in the weights. Racegoers’ interest in the clash had gained momentum following the Chelmsford epic and a near record crowd turned up. Both horses started at odds-on, a remarkable occurrence. Gloaming fought hard to beat Beauford by a length and set a course record. The third horse was 8 lengths away.
Round Three – The Spring Stakes (about 2400m, WFA)
The crowd at Randwick two weeks later was so large that racegoers had difficulty moving. It was reported that thousands of Beauford’s supporters “had journeyed from the coalfields of Newcastle”. Odds of 10/9 on was the starting price of the joint favourites. The two champions battled each other for the entire race with Beauford prevailing by a neck over Gloaming and the others a long way behind. The finish of the great race is immortalized in the famous painting by Martin Stainforth which is displayed at Randwick Racecourse today.
Round Four – The Craven Plate (about 2000m, WFA)
Although this 16 horse race was staged at a mid-week meeting, 60,000 patrons squeezed into Randwick to witness the final contest to determine either a 3 to 1 decision in favour of Newcastle’s finest, or a 2 all draw. And a draw it was with Gloaming gradually wearing down Beauford and pulling away to win by 3 lengths. Both horses started at even money and the rest of the field was distanced.
After the four race series, Gloaming went on to win another 13 races, racing until he was nine.
However, the final clash with Gloaming seemed to exhaust Beauford’s exalted reserves of stamina and he had ten more starts for only one win, the Cameron Stakes at Newcastle. He died at 23 at a property on the mid-north coast.
Post War Newcastle
Clearly, Beauford was regarded as a champion racehorse that hailed from Newcastle and drew his popular mass support from Novocastrians. In the years just following the Great War, when towns like Newcastle were coming to grips with the losses of the lives of so many of its young men, it must have provided some diversion from the miseries of those times to marvel at the exploits of this wonderful thoroughbred hometown hero.
Hall of Fame Induction
In 2017, then Beauford Club President Russell Ware nominated Beauford for induction into the Newcastle & Hunter Racing Hall of Fame. Though initially unsuccessful, regular lobbying followed and at the second Hall of Fame intake in May 2019 Beauford and the great sprinter and sire Choisir were chosen as inductees from a field of 17 champion racehorses.
The Beauford Club of Newcastle recognises the legacy of this horse and the times he raced in by proudly honouring in the club’s name, the name of this local equine immortal.