Just in case you’re thinking of breeding a champion racehorse, I came across this guiding principle: ‘Breed the best to the best and hope for the best’. Not unlike gambling really. It’s a matter of luck.
But I want to tell you about a particular thoroughbred racehorse. In early 1915, soon after the town of Kandos got its name, a foal, which was born at Havilah in September 1912, also got its name. Kandos. A name to celebrate a new town, a new industry and hopefully a champion racehorse.
In racing terms Kandos was ‘by’ Abundance ‘from’ Fulminate. This brown colt had breeding. He was a member of the Number 8 family in English thoroughbred families with a long list of ‘bys’ and ‘froms’ in his pedigree, which would mean little to you or me, but impressive all the same. One sportswriter reminded his readers Kandos had a blend of Galopin and Isonoiny blood – a breed to go fast and stay; speedy and persistent. His father Abundance was a champion, having won a Derby and two Legers. His mother Fulminate, a noted sprinter, was a Villiers Stakes, Carrington Stakes and Challenge Stakes winner, ‘a great performer, and a very fast mare’.
You might have guessed, if you recognised the name Havilah, that Kandos was bred by one of the Whites, Hunter White. He too was bred for racing. His grandfather James and father Henry were among the Australian kings of racing, sending horses to England to compete and importing horses from there to breed. Hunter White was also on the committee of the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) for much of his racing life.
Kandos was among 19 well-bred foals born into the Havilah stud in 1912. And he was among the batch of yearlings offered at the yearling sales in 1914. The Sydney Mail described Kandos as ‘in addition to being a right-bred one, is a good ‘un to look at. He is a hardy, healthy, wholesome fellow, and an excellent-boned horse.’ Perhaps the price of 110 guineas was too high. Kandos was passed in. Then White passed him over to his trainer and jockey, Dudley Allsop, another one bred for racing, son of leading trainer John Allsop.
At this time Hunter White had become seriously involved in the town of Kandos – as a director of the cement company, which he held for thirty-four years; as an investor in the town, purchasing at least fifteen lots in the first subdivision, including the hotel block for £2,700 (which he later on-sold to Tooth & Co); and as a benefactor to the town, offering four blocks to the Church of England, and money towards the erection of a rotunda. As you might guess White Crescent and White Crescent Park are named for him.
Kandos ‘the young giant’ had his first race as a three-year-old, wearing Hunter White’s colours, apparently the only classic winner to do so (at least by 1934). He began to turn heads when he came third in the Victorian Derby and scored a prize for his owner of 300 sovereigns. He showed off his true colours in the St Leger in April 1916. It is the world’s oldest classic race (1776), named after a political figure Anthony St Leger, and run at Homebush in 1841. It is a race for three-year-olds over one and a half miles and victory marks a horse as one of the best of a generation. In an exciting finish Kandos beat the favourite Cetigne by a head.
A week later Kandos won the AJC Plate. This was a weight-for-age group 1 race over three miles. Again it attracted horses of the highest quality, ones who could sustain such a long distance. Which is why there were only four entries. Kandos won by several lengths. ‘A Melbourne Cup should not be beyond this splendidly-bred colt,’ opined one writer. By the end of the season Kandos had won purse money of £2993 for his owner.
Within a couple of months of his two big wins, the word was out that Kandos had a leg injury. ‘Kandos has gone wrong, and will be blistered and turned out for rest.’ If you want to learn about blistering, Google it. Suffice to say Kandos’s winning days were over, despite a number of trials, a number of minor wins and another £501 for the owner. ‘Backers will not lose their heads over him in future,’ said one writer. By the way, long distance races aren’t held any longer because of the damage they did to horses.
By 1921 Kandos’s racing days were over and he was out to stud. In March Messrs H Chisolm and Co, horse auctioneers, advertised a batch of brood mares from the Havilah Stud, in foal to Kandos. The following year aspiring breeders ‘of modest means’ were advised Kandos would ‘stand the season’ at Havilah for a fee of twelve guineas. Among his progeny I identified The Pledge, Cement, Cement King, Beedos, Halivah and Star Jewel, but I don’t think any achieved championship level. Many more were not named because they didn’t race. In 1924 Kandos was among the blood stock sales at Sydney and sold for 100 guineas. And that is the end of his story as far as I know it.
It seems to me Kandos the horse and Kandos the town have much in common. Both were thoroughbreds, Kandos the town being produced by a group of capitalist investors who believed that the rich mineral deposits of the area would breed a champion cement industry. Both were sprinters, Kandos obtaining most of its buildings and infrastructure within the first two decades of its life; and its population peak in 1929 (3,107 including Charbon and Quarry). Kandos won its biggest fame by supplying the cement for Sydney Harbour Bridge. Both were breeders. Kandos bred workers, migrants and their families, and continues to breed tree changers, golfers and artists. Both were stayers. Kandos could have finished its run with the closing of the cement works but I believe its best race is still ahead.
The photo is of Hunter White (left) and racehorse trainer James Scobie at Randwick. National lIbrary of Australia, Fairfax Corporation, 1933.