The Burkills of Albert Robson, Albert ‘Bertie’ William, Charles ‘Chuck’ Reginald Goodwin, was one of the most prominent families by brothers or father and son team-mates in China races.
According to Governor Henry May 《Notes on Pony and Horse Racing in Hong Kong 1845-1887》page 38:
『There remain to be mentioned the brothers Burkill, whose fame resounds throughout the Far East.
Racegoers had the pleasure of seeing Mr A W Burkill ride on various occasions in Hongkong, and it was a great treat.
He is a strong and very pretty rider and always rides with his head』.
‘Bertie‘, later in the Shanghai Race Club, promoted to be the Chairman of the Stewards, he was the elder brother of ‘Chuck’.
Both of them in their day were top jockeys, as had been their father before them.
1906 – 1911, A W was Master of the Shanghai Paper Hunt Club.
1927, at the end of the November meeting in Shanghai, it came the end of the most tumultuous and ghastly year.
Since the fall of the Empire, years which had seen nothing but the rise and fall of warlords and pseudo-governments and internecine strife.
There were speeches, the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Tyrwhitt, and the General in command of Shaforce, General Duncan, both presenting Cups.
A R Burkill & Sons was yet another of those amazing firms which effortlessly expanded into seeming infinity, yet with good management held together.
They began as silks exporters, from which they moved steadily into general import-export business.
They also had real estate investment and management, shipping, a chemical works, cotton-seed (edible) oil mills, general insurance, rubber plantations in Sumatra, and so on.
In short, if a member of the Burkill family opened his mouth on the subject of organization, what he said was probably worthy of note.
The General was thanked in terms of deepest cordiality for the Shaforce Cup, the Admiral for the Navy Cup.
Burkill then came to the Chinese Cup, presented by Chinese friends of the Club.
Chiang Kai-shek had not yet established himself to the extent of not seeming to be yet another warlord.
‘Factions come and factions go, and generals rise and fall,’ said Burkill,
‘but it seems that our Chinese friends always will remain with us; and I have come to believe, so well do we get on together, that if the three race clubs had the power to rule this country, they would do it very well.’
There was laughter, faintly derisive.
He did not go on for a second or two.
Suddenly they burst out cheering.
He had touched the nerve of political truth.
According to page 181 of《China Races》author Austin Coates commented:
“China since the fall of the Empire had become the prey of self-seeking brigands.
From their very faces can be seen to this day in their proud photographs to have had not even a fraction of the intellect and ability needed to control such a vast and complicated country as China.
What China needed at that moment was the organization, efficiency, and expertise of young Chinese businessmen.
Such as those who ran the races at Kiangwan and Yangtzepoo.
There you had racing to strict Newmarket rules.”
1933-05-20, lines on the stone read: “This foundation stone was laid on 20st May, 1933, by Mrs Katherine Burkill and commemorates the demolition of the original grandstand erected in 1863 and the erection of this building.”
According to newspaper reports of the time laying the foundation stone for the new clubhouse of the Shanghai Race Club building, Katharine was ill and so did not lay the stone, Albert stood in for her.
1934, in March, the racegoers saw the new Shanghai Race Club building open.
The grandstand was thought at the time to be the largest in the world.
The clubhouse, meanwhile, with its marble staircases, teak paneled rooms, oak parquet floors, and coffee room.
Each of which was 100 feet by 47 feet with a huge fireplace – was as sumptuous as they came.
A W Burkill conducted the opening of the New Shanghai Race Club Building.
He paid proper tribute to the architects and the record-breaking builders.
He invited a thousand or more members and their ladies to enter, after he had unlocked the main door with a golden key.
1935-05-27, A W Burkill attended a formal farewell tribute by the SRC and earlier by the Shanghai Municipal Council.
Mr C H Arnhold, the Arnhold brothers, British of German descent, jockey–owner of another of the enormous China concerns which seemingly embraced everything, succeeded Burkill as Chairman.
1935-05-28, they both caught the Siberian Express to England for retirement and for holiday accordingly.
1939, Katherine died, and the widower ‘Bertie’, later married again, to Catharine Isabelle Macfarlane.
1952-01-17 Burkill, Albert ‘Bertie’ William passed away in Kensington, London.
1952-01-22, on page 6 of SCMP, he was remarked in obituary as a prominent Shanghai resident and a keen sportsman.
960 meters = 1/2 mile 170 yards; 1207 meters = 6 Furlong; 1609 meters = 1 mile; 1766 meters = 1 mile 171 yards; 2012 meters = 1-1/4miles; 2816 meters = 1-3/4 miles.
Acknowledgment to Mr Lacuda Mengnah; Mr K H; HKJC Archives; Hong Kong Racing Museum for relevant content.