Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A whip, lost or stolen

While I am not a believer in the theory that all history is cyclic, it is surprising how often you find that an apparently "unique" modern event has a parallel in the family records.

Last week, veteran Queensland jockey Shane Scriven announced the end to his 33-year career in racing. Inevitably, news reports recalled his involvement in what was usually described as the "infamous whip stealing incident at Ipswich last year".

In April 2011, Scriven was handed a five month suspension for overcoming the loss of his own whip during a race by snatching that of a young apprentice rider. His "victim" was suspended for two weeks for failing to report the incident to stewards after the race. The original penalty was reduced to three months on appeal, but it is unclear whether Scriven's representative used the precedent set more than 50 years before in arguing for that relief.

Henry John Corry SUDDABY (older brother of our great grandmother Isabel Corry SUDDABY) was involved in an almost identical set of circumstances during the running of the Windsor Handicap at Eagle Farm on 2 December 1922.

On the following Thursday (7 Dec 1922), The Brisbane Courier carried a short report that referred to the strange events.

When the case was reported in detail on the following day, it became clear that Uncle Henry (commonly known as Squib) had not been a very convincing witness with a number of different versions of what had happened. Nevertheless, the stewards panel apparently accepted the most damning version and fined the premier rider Billy Hill £20 for his improper practice. The size of that fine can be judged from advertisements in the same newspaper offering "quality" suits for £8.

Henry SUDDABY escaped with a severe reprimand for failing to report the matter. It probably had the desired effect on a nineteen-year-old who had been concerned that the trainer would "rouse on him" for being careless.

There must have been no lasting ill-feeling over the case. A 1935 report on the status of the QTC Distressed Jockeys' Fund showed that W Hill was elected as vice-president and H Suddaby (by then retired from riding) was Secretary.

That 1935 report makes clear that race-riding was not an easy way to make a living. Among the payments Squib had authorised in the previous year were £43/3/6 for hospital fees and £25/13/- for funeral expenses. This week, Shane Scriven was quoted as saying “… the body has had enough and the time is right to give it away.” Some things never change.

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