A Photo Never Previously Shared
Published 22 August 2022
The accompanying photograph snapped over 30 years ago by master photographer Phil Wiley of The Morning Bulletin and which I don’t think has ever published is one of my all-time favourites. I fumbled across it the other day when fossicking through reams of memorabilia. It just had to be shared as it reveals a rare happening.
It depicts David Smith the Rockhampton Jockey Club Clerk of the Course piggybacking apprentice jockey Glenn Lee back to the enclosure at Callaghan Park racecourse on March 17, 1990. Alongside David’s pony is the racehorse Belmont Aire with the race saddle having well and truly slipped.
I tracked down David who I hadn’t seen for donkey’s years, through his nephew the now Rocky trainer Tom Smith who wasn’t even born at the time of the photo. “I remember the day”, David told me. “I was around the back of the track after the race and I caught up with Glenn who was sitting on the horse bareback. I grabbed the horse and told Glenn to jump on the pony. I led them back in and for memory think the horse (Belmont Aire) won the race. Yeah, I think he did or otherwise I wouldn’t have led him in first”, David said.
Spot on David as yes Belmont Aire trained by the late John Kelly did indeed win the Trainers Cup on that St Patrick’s Day race meeting 32 years ago. That was confirmed by the jockey himself, now the Sydneysider Glenn Lee who responded to my “plea for help” on Messenger. “Yes, Belmont Aire won the race and just after the winning post when I was pulling him up the saddle slipped around, straight to the side”, Glenn vividly recalled.
Glenn Lee was a very popular apprentice in Rockhampton indentured to Maurice Stafford and rode with success here well into the senior ranks at Callaghan Park until April, 2011. His last recorded winner was aboard the Garnett Taylor trained Garrison Gold at Callaghan Park on April 5, 2011.
Glenn subsequently moved to Sydney where he has been busily engaged as a senior trackwork rider at Warwick Farm attached currently to the Gary Portelli stable which he said has about 40 young horses alone on its books. “I have been lucky to be associated with some top-class horses. I was the regular work rider for She Will Reign, the Golden Slipper winner of 2017 as well as Fire Burn this year’s Golden Slipper winner. I also did a lot of work on Rebel Dane”, Glenn enthused.
Now 50, Glenn still rides as many as 12 horses work of a morning at Warwick Farm racecourse. “I often think about my days in Rocky and keep up with the racing stories on the race club’s Facebook page which you write. It is good. It would be great to come back but the work and the money down here is too good to give up”, he said.
On occasions during television coverage at the races Glenn pops-up cutting a dashing and dapper figure.
By the way, in the far-right hand corner of the photo is senior long serving RJC Clerk of The Course, Doyle Porter. I can recall Doyle, a fine horseman later involved with the Heritage Village, trotting his white pony each Saturday along the roads over to Callaghan Park from the direction of Park Avenue.
David Smith, a brother to trainer Fred Smith, lives the quiet life on a small property along the Emu Park Road where he “runs a few cows” while sharing in the ownership with a horse in nephew Tom’s stable.
Photos such as this gem revive memories just not for those portrayed but also for those who view them. How true – “a picture is worth a thousand words” but I suspect this one may inspire more.
HOOFNOTE: Reminder – the Rockhampton Jockey Club race at Callaghan Park again next Tuesday, August 30.