For many tuning into watch Winx on Saturday, the name George Ryder wont mean a great deal. But for those interested in the roots of racehorse syndication in Australia, they should take some time to study the name a bit closer.
George Ryder was the long term chairman and director of the Sydney Turf Club (Rosehill & Canterbury) for a period spanning 37 years. His most significant achievement was the invention of the Golden Slipper Stakes which was first run at Rosehill in 1957 and won by the great Todman.
Ryder contributed greatly to the breeding industry initially under the Woodlands Stud banner at Denman where he stood stallions like Newtown Wonder, Pipe Of Peace, Sostenuto and King Of Babylon.
From humble beginnings, Ryder had a hand in many successful businesses. At the forefront was his bus company at Cessnock Rover Motors, which still operates today. I’m pleased to say we use Rover each year on our very popular Hunter Valley Tour and I make sure we pay homage to Ryder. He went on to invest in hotels including a significant property in my childhood, the iconic Craigieburn Guest House at Bowral.
Whilst Ryder was a visionary racing administrator, pastoralist and businessman, he had just as much impact on racehorse ownership. Another of his contributions to our great industry was a group known as ARABS (Australian Racing and Breeding Stables), the first large scale racing and breeding syndicate in Australia. ARABS was formed in 1970 before being listed on the stock exchange in 1983.
ARAB’s was my introduction into the world of racehorse ownership via my parents who were founding shareholders in ARABS together with a group of lifelong friends. There are photos of me as a toddler at the great Kia Ora stud on one of the regular social events conducted by Ryder at the famous Scone nursery.
Just prior to my entry into the world in the May of 1974, ARAB’s recorded one of its earliest big race wins with the King Of Babylon two year-old filly Gretel winning the 1974 Sires Produce Stakes at Randwick with a young Kevin Moses.
My first significant memory of racing was the 1981 Golden Slipper Stakes. ARABS was represented by the Lunchtime filly Food For Love. Trained by present day Muswellbrook trainer Pat Farrell, Food For Love was ridden by a youthful Wayne Harris. She proved no match for the Angus Armanasco trained colt Full on Aces, but none the less recorded a memorable second for the large band of ARABS. Hundreds of Australian’s from all walks of life shared in that exciting moment which gave youngsters like me a small taste of what could be.
That passion was further fuelled later by other offshoot ARAB’s syndicates including the one that raced the brilliant but enigmatic sprinter and future stallion Proud Knight (by Vain). This planted the seed in my very impressionable young mind. No doubt the Ontrack business you see today was a heavily influenced by Ryder, ARABS and most of all two wonderful parents who showcased this great game to me.
Today the famous ARAB’S racing silks of Yellow and Black diamonds still enjoy prolific success racing under the Arrowfield Stud banner. John Messara, another industry shaping racing administrator and entrepreneur, took over ARABS before building it into the powerhouse breeding empire we see today.
Thankfully the George Ryder Stakes also lives on today at Ryder’s much loved Rosehill. Far too many of our race names are being prostituted to make way for brand names that forego our history. I’m all for sponsorship, but why the need to jettison the great race names totally? Thank goodness this one has kept its rightful mantle.
Its fitting the George Ryder Stakes now sits alongside the Golden Slipper on a fabulous raceday at Rosehill which features no less than 6 Group 1 races. I’m sure Mr Ryder will be looking down on Rosehill with some pride this on slipper day.