Professional Jockey; Proficient Journalist
1971, by January, it was very clear that HKJC had decided to go professional.
1971-1972 racing season, there came the first arrival of five professional jockeys from abroad.
Peter John Gumbleton was one of the best-known racing personalities in Hongkong after the racing professionalization.
The impish grin was still very evident as the man known to his friends and colleagues as Gumbo or Grumps.
Peter booted his inaugural triumph at Dubbo, NSW, Australia.
His first winner was at only his fifth race ride.
His first two attempts at making the grade in the city ended disastrously.
He could not get a ride and ended up broke both times.
Then Gumbleton headed back south for another crack at the bright lights.
Gumbleton’s first of many major race wins came aboard the Brian Courtney trained CAMPO.
This win put the ball in his court for the first time.
Doors started opening from that point on and his career really started to blossom.
Gumbleton settled in Victoria for a lengthy period and was associated with several outstanding gallopers.
Some top stayers brought him a great deal of success.
He rode winners in every Australian state except for the Northern Territory, such as:
the Adelaide, Moonce Valley, Sandown, Grafton and Brisbane Cups, Futurity and Eclipse Stakes (twice) and numerous other prestige events.
Australia’s premier horse race, the Melbourne Cup was another topic that sparked up Gumbleton’s motor.
He rode in six of them and according to Gumbo he should have won at least four.
The closest he came was fourth on PRINCE CAMILLO and definitely should have won that year.
Gumbleton ventured to Indonesia where a huge racing venture was underway.
He rode there for three months before Rod Turvey an Australian trainer with whom Gumbleton had been associated for some time, approached him about riding in Hongkong.
They were ready to serve for the changeover from amateur to professional style racing in Hongkong.
1971-08-31 Gumbleton arrived Kai Tak Airport showing his Merdeka Cup won at Jakarta.
1971-10-09_3 Gumbleton’s inaugural win in Hongkong was D075 FILMBOY, owned by Sir Run Run Shaw.
Hong Kong Riding record of Peter Gumbleton:
Season : Wins/Rides
1971 – 1972 : 18/166
1972 – 1973 : 6/81
1973 – 1974 : 15/149
1974 – 1975 : 5/120
1975 – 1976 : 6/ 123
1976 – 1977: 1/91
1977 – 1978 :3/ 150
1978 – 1979 : 3/133
Total Wins: 57
1971 – 1972
1971-10-16_4 Flyaway Stakes (GWYNT-TEG)
1972-01-15_5 Sports Club Cup (BO BO)
1973 – 1974
1974-05-11_3 Pearce Memorial Cup (COMPROMISE)
1974 – 1975
1974-12-14_5 Police Cup (EXALTER)
1975 – 1976
1976-02-07_5 IRC Cup (LUCKY CHAP)
Gumbleton rode successfully until he changed his job in Hong Kong.
He saw RHKJC progressing from a very amateurish organization to one of the most highly professional outfits anywhere in the world.
Gumblcton’s honesty and integrity has made him popular with racing and non-racing folk alike throughout the world.
“I have always done the right thing by people. I think it pays in the long run,” he said.
For 26-year stint in the saddle, Gumbleton has ridden with success in numerous other countries apart from Australia and Asia.
“I rode in England for three months working alongside the great Scobie Breasley and also had winners in the United States, as well as a lengthy stint in South America with 8 winners,” he said.
Despite around 1,600 winners, he regarded the first winner as his biggest thrill.
1980, he became a full-time journalist with the Hong Kong Standard.
1985-07-26 Friday, Gumbleton flew out of Hongkong after 14 years association with horse racing in the island.
He accepted a position as the senior racing journalist of the Gunnedah Independent, NSW, Australia.
2015-07-24 Friday night, Peter Gumbleton passed away in his sleep in Gunnedah.
The hoop turned journalist, turned trainer was in his 80s.
2015-07-29 Wednesday, his funeral was appointed to commence at 11.00am in Lightfoot Service, Gunnedah, NSW.
Gumbleton was survived by his wife Susan and children Daniel and Allison.
His relatives and friends were respectfully invited and attended.
The racing industry mourned the loss of the former champion lightweight jockey.
He left without an enemy in the world.
He was a man’s man – and a bloody good bloke to all those lucky enough to have known him.
Peter Gumbleton may be gone but the fond memories with which he provided in the jockey rooms or the press-boxes will remain for a long time.
Gumbleton was well known as a storyteller and recorded many moments of Gunnedah history through the Namoi Valley Independent.
Gumbo told his story of the famous “Move the three furlong post” during his apprenticeship everywhere he went.
Sadly, we will never hear it again from him any more.
But the story will be long remembered as part of prized Australian racing folklore.
Just as Peter Gumbleton will be long remembered.
As legends should be.
Bush racing: who switched the three-furlong post? “Move the three furlong post” the story during Gumbleton’s apprenticeship.
960 meters = 1/2 mile 170 yards, 1207 meters = 6 Furlong, 1609 meters = 1 mile, 1766 meters = 1 mile 171 yards, 2012 meters = 1-1/4mile, 2816 meters = 1-3/4 miles.
Acknowledgment to HKJC Racing Registry for offering relevant records.